Nirenberg, Brockhouse face off in heated first mayoral debate

Ron Nirenberg and Greg Brockhouse have first debate

By Alicia Barrera - Multimedia Journalist, Azian Bermea - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - With a pool of nine candidates, many people wonder who will be the next mayor of San Antonio?

On Friday morning at KTSA's Alamo Lounge, two of the more well-known names faced off in front of a live audience.

Incumbent Ron Nirenberg debated Councilman Greg Brockhouse for the first time over their competing visions for the city.

Audience members were able to ask some questions, prompting the debate to be a little heated at times. 

Both mayoral candidate's were given 90 seconds for their opening statements. Nirenberg kicked off the event.

"Two years ago, our momentum stalled," said Nirenberg. "I ran for mayor to build with you a city we all deserve. After two years, we are delivering, in fact, we're booming."

Brockhouse challenged Nirenberg's argument that the city is propering. 

"I'm here today, honestly, to talk about Ron's failed leadership the last two years," said Brockhouse. "We are still stalled today. We need to change and that means going back to the neighborhoods and community first."

In the forefront of Friday's topics was the City Council's vote to deny Chik-Fil-A a retail concessions agreement at the airport. 

"This is a faith based issue," said Brockhouse, who added that he supports the rights of the LGBTQ community. "To put our beliefs like that at the last second and materially change a contract was dead wrong." 

Nirenberg defended his vote, citing revenue at the airport.

"Have you ever tried to buy waffle fries on a Sunday?" asked Nirenberg. "They're closed. 15 percent of sales generated at the airport come on a Sunday."

The debate lasted an hour and included topics such as a green climate plan, transportation, homelessness and transparency. Some residents asked for the next mayor to personally visit their communities for a closer and more accurate look.

"You have to drive around in the area to see how things are," said Velma Peña, a resident of city's West Side. "You just can't make decisions and not go by the area."

Christian Lee was also in attendance.

"You have to be at the debates to see firsthand what's going down," said Lee. "When you see their expressions, the vibes comes through."

The vibe ended in a more courteous manner than the debate itself with both candidates shaking hands.

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