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City Council District 8 candidates answer your questions ahead of San Antonio’s May 1 election

We took your questions to the candidates for answers, here are their responses

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Editor’s note: Find answers for all districts and the mayoral race here. Find news, resources and results from the election on our Vote 2021 page.

Saturday, May 1, 2021, is the municipal election in San Antonio. On the ballot, a rematch for mayor and nearly 80 candidates competing in 10 city council races, along with a proposition aimed at repealing the police department’s collective bargaining rights and a charter change for city bond projects.

We wanted to be sure you had a chance to ask your most important questions to the candidates before making your decision in the election — early voting begins April 17.

We received more than 400 questions from KSAT viewers and readers for the candidates.

We chose three of the most commonly asked questions, sent to each candidate and asked them to respond by April 12.

  1. Are you for or against Prop B and why?
  2. What are your plans to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio?
  3. What is your plan to clean up and improve our city -- specifically when it comes to the condition of our roads, litter (dumping) and graffiti?

Below are the unedited responses we received from the candidates who responded to our questions. The candidates are listed in the order they will appear on the ballot.

San Antonio City Council District 8 Candidates

Suzanne McCarty, Pricing

Did not respond.

Manny Pelaez, Incumbent, attorney

Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Pelaez: “My homeowners and I support safer neighborhoods and faster 911 response times. Proposition B is dangerous. Albeit well intentioned, Prop B will have the unintended consequence of reducing SAPD headcount-- fewer officers means neighborhoods will be less safe. Fewer officers will also increases 911 response times. That’s unacceptable to my neighbors. I’ll be voting NO and am I’m urging voters to reject Prob B.”

What are your plans to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio?

Pelaez: “All of us send taxes to the federal government and much of that money never comes back to San Antonio. Thankfully, over the past 4 years I’ve helped bring hundreds of millions of our dollars back from D.C. and, with that money, we’ve invested in shelters, mental health programs, domestic violence prevention, job training, affordable housing, and rental assistance. Unless we continue to bring that money home the homelessness crisis will not be solved. As the chairman of San Antonio’s Intergovernmental Relations Committee, I will continue to fight for our fair share of federal and state funds.”

What is your plan to clean up and improve our city -- specifically when it comes to the condition of our roads, litter (dumping) and graffiti?

Pelaez: “District 8 voters asked me to increase investment in road upgrades, road safety, and maintenance. I’ve consistently succeeded in bringing more and more of our budget dollars back to District 8 for infrastructure. Today, major thoroughfares, neighborhoods streets, and alleyways enjoy new paving, widened lanes, and more bike lanes that ever before. I’m proud to say that our 311 program has resulted in very short wait-times from when a problem is reported to the time we’ve fixed potholes, graffiti, and damaged property. Also, I have organized community trash-pick-up events at parks and green space where litter accumulates quickly - - the power of my neighbors working together is how we solve for most of the challenges that face us.”

Cesario Garcia, Self-employed

Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Garcia: “**yes** It eliminates our ability to have safe streets along with faster response times. The whole defund movement is based upon removing safety and security from 4 major areas. Airport, schools parks, and beat cops.”

What are your plans to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio?

Garcia: “**First**, find what has displaced them. We have HHS resources available for those who need them the most. However, those who are experiencing hardship need outreach or a work-related program to build their confidence back. A financial assistance program, not citizen-funded or taxes. IE a stipend. That would be a start.”

What is your plan to clean up and improve our city -- specifically when it comes to the condition of our roads, litter (dumping), and graffiti?

Garcia: “First, let us start fining those individuals who got caught and have them clean up the mess they created. Levy a fine that is doubled after each offense, If they can’t pay it. Put them to work so they can see the labor involved in cleaning up that mess. Steeper fines or suspension of their license up to 3 yrs. Hire local companies who have skin in the game. Then the things should change..”

Rob Rodriguez, Real estate broker

Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Rodriguez: “I am against Proposition B because I think police accountability can be corrected within the parameters of the collective bargaining agreement.

I would advocate for higher selection criteria for candidates into the police academy and would push for written, annual evaluations for police officers that ranked officers among their peers and outlined improvement areas for poor performing officers or helped leadership identify successful officers for promotion and advancement. I would also advocate for an Evergreen Provision lower than the current 8 years to allow for elected leaders to review and impact the collective bargaining agreement within the current city’s term limit structure.”

What are your plans to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio?

Rodriguez: “Homelessness is a big societal issue caused by many different issues and has broad implications. The city’s role in addressing the homeless issue should be collaborative and non-exclusive meaning that the city is part of a team that includes the county, non-profit organizations, faith based organizations, and private corporations.

“My plan to address the homeless issue is to review and improve how the city delivers services through Haven For Hope and reduce barriers that inhibit other collaborative partners in caring or providing services to the homeless population. This may take the form of eliminating ordinances that prohibit private organizations from giving food directly to the homeless and raising the homestead property tax exemption rate to prevent citizens who are experiencing excessive tax burdens from being homeless.”

What is your plan to clean up and improve our city -- specifically when it comes to the condition of our roads, litter (dumping) and graffiti?

Rodriguez: “My plan to improve the condition of District 8 roads is to work for a more balanced and equal approach to infrastructure expenditures in the city, focus more of the upcoming 2022 bond on streets and sidewalk repair, and leverage maximum funding from the anticipated the CoVid Relief Act.

“My plans for improving and cleaning up the city would be to be responsive to neighborhoods and focus on existing code enforcement policies. I would also work with property owners and law enforcement in identifying people who engage in littering and graffiti and perhaps work toward establishing a monetary reward system in identifying and arresting offenders utilizing non-profit or donated corporate dollars.”

Tammy K. Orta, Registered nurse

Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Orta: “I am against Prob B. I believe that our citizens have a right to expect safety and security in their communities. Safety and security is a basic need. Without that our community and us as people cannot progress. Proposition B is in my opinion a way to defund the police. I believe our police here in San Antonio do a very good job for our community. The police department like every other large organization can get better, there are areas that need improvement and this can be looked at, but not in this hasty manner.”

What are your plans to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio?

Orta: “Homelessness in San Antonio is a multi-tiered issue and must be worked on in that manner. First and foremost Mental health should be addressed. Some people become homeless because they have mental health issues that are not under treatment or controlled. If this is their status, they might not be able to hold down a job, and therefore lose their ability to make payments for housing or food and then become homeless. Looking at what we can do in the Mental health area for the community would be a first step. Secondly, I would advise that we should look into Social workers going into the field to help the homeless access programs that are available to them for assistance. It is true that people face hard times and one bad thing can lead to another. Social workers can help families or single people find programs to help with housing, find a job, get food etc. to get back into a regular routine and have some stability. A program or multifaceted support system very similar to the one used for battered women. Where everyone works together seamlessly for a cause. I believe these are first steps and can make a big difference in the number of homeless in our community.”

What is your plan to clean up and improve our city -- specifically when it comes to the condition of our roads, litter (dumping) and graffiti?

Orta: “Roads are always a top priority. Where roads are concerned I believe the issue is not only repair, but being sure the vendors that are used to do the work are doing the job properly and not patch work. We should look at the quality of the work performed and be sure it is consistent. We should have a good return on our investment or use other vendors. Graffiti is unfortunately looked at as “street art” these days. There should be more of a push by the city to notify the community of the penalties for graffiti, and what is considered graffiti. Some building owners allow for graffiti on their walls as art, which then gives someone the idea that every wall is art. So the message must be clear. I believe in addition to fines and clean up, the people that are caught doing graffiti should do community service. The community service should be focused not on punishment but on learning. I am a strict believer in “Don’t mess with Texas”. I think we need to grow our community into knowing littering is not ok. Again, public messaging and programs in the schools to start young with what is right and wrong help. When it comes to dumping, this is a different issue and I believe the city should provide more programs in neighborhoods to decrease dumping of large items. Providing large dumpsters in an area for a week as a community service would be something that I would promote.”


Find out if you are a San Antonio resident and which city council and school district you are in here.


Important Election Dates

  • Monday, April 19, 2021: FIRST day of Early Voting.
  • Tuesday, April 27, 2021: LAST day of Early Voting.
  • Saturday, May 1, 2021: Election Day

Find more information about the election here and visit our elections page for the latest election-related stories.

Click on the races below to read more candidates’ answers to the KSAT.com reader questions:


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