SAN ANTONIO – There are new members on the San Antonio City Council and budget season is just around the corner.
On Sunday, District 2 City Councilman Jalen McKee-Rodriguez and District 10 City Councilman Marc Whyte joined Leading SA to discuss current council initiatives and planning for the budget.
“We had a very ambitious first term, and I think I set a record for most council consideration requests for a first-term councilperson. And some of those initiatives include an Office of Crime, Recidivism Prevention, a food access master plan, an insulin cost share program, and, of course, an animal care services master plan that takes our strategic plan a little bit further,” said McKee-Rodriguez.
The District 2 Councilman is entering his second term in office, and he already has some big plans underway, including a new council consideration request to help teachers become homeowners.
“I’m calling for an expansion to our homeowners’ support programs to include a teacher homebuyer program. We want to attract teachers. We want to make it a little bit easier for teachers to live in the communities that they serve, to be able to buy a house and to, you know, be a teacher long term...,” McKee-Rodriguez said.
On the other side of the political spectrum, newly-elected District 10 City Councilman Marc Whyte is hitting the ground running.
“It’s been great. I really enjoyed getting to know the other members of the council. There’s a lot of information coming at me seemingly every day, but we’re taking it, and we’re looking at it and trying to decide how we can best move forward for the city in terms of priorities for the first term...,” Councilman Whyte said.
Recently the city announced San Antonio is joining the City of Houston to sue the state over HB 2127, a law set to take effect September 1, that critics said would sharply curtail the ability of cities and counties to pass local regulations.
Councilman Whyte disagrees with the suit, which he referred to as unnecessary litigation.
“You know, for the life of me, I don’t understand our city’s position on this. I think it’s a good bill. I think it’s really going to help businesses across the state. I mean, imagine a business trying to do work in all these different jurisdictions and having to comply with different sets of laws in each one. It’s burdensome, it’s expensive, and this Regulatory Consistency Act is designed to do away with that. So I wish we would not have filed this lawsuit. I’m in favor of this bill. And, you know, maybe even a bigger issue here is the fact that in, I’ve only been on the job two months, but what I’ve seen already is our city’s inability to work with with other governments...,” Councilman Whyte said.
The budget formation is also just around the corner, and both city councilmen have priorities they want to be addressed.
“Community health and the disparities that exist in our communities, such as diabetes, lack of access to greenspace, asthma, lack of access to health care facilities that make it so that we’re much more susceptible to pandemic, you know, disaster like the pandemic and continuing to focus on crime prevention initiatives and investing in opportunities for our young people and of course, infrastructure following through on our new equity lens that is going to make it so that districts like District Two on the East Side will receive an even greater share of infrastructure funding and achieve comparable streams by 2030...,” McKee-Rodriguez said.
“We’ve got to get more money in this budget for additional police. I think we’re going to be at least able to get enough for 100 new officers. That’s something I talked about a lot on the campaign trail, and I think we’re going to be able to get done. The other big issue, of course, is homelessness in the city. And we’re going to have to find a way to get some money there to clean up the encampments and help get these folks off of the streets. You know, it’s a, it’s a public safety issue, and it’s also an economic development issue,” Whyte said.