SAN ANTONIO – Is District 2 looking for new leadership already?
Coming off of her first term, District 2 Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan has 11 challengers looking to unseat her, more than twice as many as any other incumbent, with the exception of the always crowded mayor’s race.
Though they each had their own reasons for getting into the race, many of the challengers mentioned concerns -- either theirs or others’ -- about a lack of leadership from Andrews-Sullivan or communications issues with her office.
“Nobody in the race can say they’re running because the incumbent has demonstrated strong leadership skills. Nobody’s running because they feel the office has been effective. Nobody’s running because they feel they’re proud of how they’re being represented,” said Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, a high school math teacher who also worked as Andrews-Sullivan’s communications director early on in her tenure.
McKee-Rodriguez said he left because of retaliation he faced after telling her about issues with another staff member’s treatment of him as an openly gay man, something Andrews-Sullivan denies.
Beyond that, McKee-Rodriguez is disillusioned with the councilwoman over her performance in office.
“There are 12 people in the race because the incumbent hasn’t been taking constituent phone calls for over a year,” McKee-Rodriguez said.
The perceived lack of communication has helped spur some of the competition the incumbent councilwoman now faces.
Candidate Nneka Cleaver said she has been plugged into the East Side for a while, and “apparently people were having a very hard time reaching the district office. So, they would call me.”
After she started attending more council meetings to ensure she had the information people needed, Cleaver decided she was meant for the job.
Kristi Villanueva, a business owner and former president of the West Side Chamber of Commerce, said her own frustration trying to contact Andrews-Sullivan’s office for concerns about short-term rentals and street racing were the spark for her campaign, too.
“We have had no changes, nothing, no meetings. Nothing has been done,” Villanueva said.
For her part, Andrews-Sullivan denies any problem being accessible.
“I can honestly say that people that needed to get in touch with our office called and got in touch with our office, even during COVID when the city of San Antonio shut down,” she said.
Ultimately, Andrews-Sullivan says she thinks voters are looking for the candidate who will do the job.
“And that’s only been the one person that we’ve seen doing the job, taking the heat, riding the bench, doing the work, making sure that everything that they need to see come forward happens,” she said.