SAN ANTONIO – Councilman Mario Bravo faces an uphill battle in the next month as the only sitting San Antonio city council member forced into a runoff.
In the seven-way race for the District 1 city council seat on May 6, Bravo finished 8 points behind his main challenger, Sukh Kaur, receiving 26% of the vote to her 34%. With neither gathering a majority of the votes, though, they’ll head to a much less publicized runoff election on Jun. 10.
Sitting on the porch of her Beacon Hill home - and campaign headquarters - Kaur attributed her campaign’s success so far to knocking on thousands of doors since she announced her campaign in October.
Kaur holds a doctorate in K-12 education leadership and owns a company, EDreimagined, that works with public charter schools. She sees the council seat as an opportunity to address the root causes of inequities facing students.
“If students can’t walk to school in a safe way, they can’t see, or if they don’t have access to health care, all of those issues that city government control actually really impact the lives of kids,” Kaur said.
Bravo unseated an incumbent himself in 2021, Roberto Treviño, at a time when homelessness was a top priority for the district. He says it still is a priority for him and cites progress on that front as a top success of his first term.
“While I was in my first term, we secured $43 million to work on permanent supportive housing,” he said, citing the city and county’s total allocations between city bond funds and federal dollars.
Although, as a sitting councilman, he has name recognition, it’s not always for good reasons. A confrontation with his fellow council member and ex-romantic partner, Ana Sandoval, last fall led to him being temporarily removed from city council committees and censured by his colleagues.
“That was a tough lesson to learn,” he said. “It was a tough lesson to learn publicly - even tougher. But I learned a lot from it.”
However, he says that was one day out of a two-year term.
“I have a proven record as being a partner of showing up, of listening and being people’s voice at City Hall... And I do actually have a track record of working with my colleagues and getting them to sign my policy proposals and move them forward,” Bravo said.
Both he and Kaur spoke of the challenges surrounding property taxes and longtime residents being priced out of their homes.
Kaur said her other top priorities included infrastructure - like streets, sidewalks, and drainage - along with public safety.
Bravo said he avoided taking a public position on Proposition A, which was the main draw to the polls in the May 6 election, telling KSAT “I didn’t appreciate the fact that we were addressing something that the city attorney said we couldn’t enforce.”
Kaur, on the other hand, supported it because of the elements relating to abortion decriminalization, though she told KSAT she believes in the need for “stronger public safety solutions” and that there is an “overrepresentation of certain populations in our prisons.”
However, she also noted in her interview with KSAT that “most folks knew the policy wasn’t enforceable.”
“I really want to focus, if elected, on enforceable public safety policy that supports our police force, because I do believe that, but also holds accountable when there are incidences that occur,” she said.
Without Proposition A on the ballot to draw voters, the runoff’s turnout will likely be much lower than the 15,400 District 1 voters who cast a ballot in the original race.
Early voting will last from May 30 through June 6 with a final day of voting on Saturday, June 10.