Saturday night, as the results came in, some were shocked and some were pleased on the selections made by less than 7% of San Antonio’s voting population. While the mayor clocked in a third term with 67% of the vote, 33% didn’t vote for him, spreading their votes across a wide spectrum of perennial and new candidates. In District 3, council’s pick for the seat was ousted by one of the candidates they overlooked. In District 5, a large field of candidates forced a runoff between the incumbent and a progressive favorite. Finally, in District 8 one candidate proved money can’t buy everything, even when you spend over $100 a vote. So what did we end up with?
To help folks find the information on campaign finance reports, which are available at the City Clerk’s website, I’ve pulled the links to the 8th day and 3rd day reports and listed them here. Sometimes the searches can be a little difficult to get right. Anyway, you can get all the information here at one single page. It also gives you a better idea of who’s running. Read more…
Since I’ll be traveling around tonight, hitting a few of the Election Night Watch Parties, I decided to try something new to see if this will work. I’m going to be posting here throughout the day and night some of the things I see and some of my observations throughout the night. Hopefully I’ll be able to post photos from the various locations, as well as some updates on election returns, as they come in. Not all locations have WiFi, from what I can tell, so the updates may come in delayed. (Note to candidates: find a location with WiFi for your watch party. Just sayin’.) Feel free to comment throughout the night, if you want to, but remember to follow the Guidelines for comments. Remember, this is an experiment so the posts may or may not be timely but I’m going to give it a go.
San Antonio is about to complete its first municipal election with terms extended by the 2008 charter change to allow four two-year years over the prior limit of two terms. But, even with two more terms, voter turnout for San Antonio municipal elections continues to rank among the lowest in the nation, coming in a the bottom among the 22 largest cities. City leaders and politicos have been perplexed as to why San Antonio ranks so low, offering up all sorts of possible solutions. The latest, offered in a column by Express-News columnist Gilbert Garcia, even suggested extended term limits might be the source of the problem.
Today starts the Early Voting period for our municipal elections, typically the elections with the lowest voter turnout of the city. There’s no major citywide race this election with Mayor Julian Castro seeking his third term in office with no real opposition. Looking at the other districts, District 3 and 5 are probably hotter than most races. But the race to really watch is going to be District 8 where three candidates are squaring up for what could be the hottest race in the city. Rolando Briones, Ron Nirenberg, and Michael Kueber are matched up to take over the seat currently held by Councilman Reed Williams, a councilman many wish would have run for another term on council.
The field for the District 5 council seat is crowded. In fact, aside from the mayor’s race, it’s the most crowded race on the ballot for the May 11th election. So you would suspect with such a big field there would be tons of big ideas to help improve the district, one of the poorest in the city. Based on the answers provided at a candidate forum hosted by COPS/Metro Alliance last night, it seems a big field doesn’t always yield big ideas. In fact, several times the answers fell back to typical campaign rhetoric of “we solve that problem by working together” or “we need more public/private partnerships.” Instead of traditional bingo, the church should have hosted rhetoric bingo last night.
To help folks find the information on campaign finance reports, which are available at the City Clerk’s website, I’ve pulled the links to the reports and listed them here. Sometimes the searches can be a little difficult to get right. Anyway, you can get all the information here at one single page. It also gives you a better idea of who’s running.
It’s been two years since the 2010 Census and cities in Texas are either finished with or are finishing their realignment of council districts. Houston and Dallas are done, Fort Worth and El Paso are in the final stages, and Austin and San Antonio are in the middle of their processes. San Antonio’s redistricting will most likely just involve a shifting of boundaries, primarily to accommodate the increased population growth to the north, specifically the northwest side. The same is true for most of the other districts in Texas, except for Austin. Austin is going through a much larger discussion about moving from 7 at-large districts to a different make-up, primarily focused on geographic districts but with some hybrid options offered as well. So in this discussion, you have to ask what really is the best type of city council make-up.
San Antonio’s city council has been something a lot of people have been speculating about ever since the municipal elections in May and the runoffs in June. With four new members (Bernal, Saldana, C Medina, and Soules) many wondered how the council would factor when it came to deliberations on matters. Would it have more of a moderate or liberal slant or would the Northside Three (Williams, Chan, and Soules) dominate the agenda? Since the final swearing in there really hasn’t been any matters full of substance to see how each council member would vote. Sure, the Durango Blvd. debate had some interesting aspects, but it was with the old council and none of the new folks had the opportunity to voice their opinions. Then came the proposed 2012 budget with among other things, the issue of extending benefits to domestic partnerships.
Today San Antonians in two council districts will complete the biennial process of selecting those that represent them at the city level. It’s Election Day for races in District 1 and 7. In District 1 the final two candidates are Diego Bernal and Ralph Medina and in District 7 the runoff is between Cris Medina and Elena Guajardo. Based on early voting totals it looks like we’re going to be seeing a trend of around 70% of General Election voters participating in the runoff. While that may sound reasonable remember that only 7% of registered voters actually voted in the General Election. So I highly encourage you to vote at your polling place if you haven’t already. Just please vote!
Yesterday I got a FB comment from a friend dismayed at a mailer he had received from Diego Bernal that had been paid for by SEIU COPE, the national PAC for the SEIU union, a union for service employees that has been growing nationally. While it may shock a few, it’s really no secret that SEIU has backed Bernal, providing volunteers for block walking and fundraising. Many had thought that Ralph Medina was the only one in bed with organized labor but Bernal is just as much in the thick of the matter. Both stated at a candidate forum they support the right for labor to organize. But this really starts to prompt the question of who else are the candidates beholding to. You can tell a lot by their campaign finance reports.
As we end up the final day of Early Voting for the municipal runoff elections in District 1 and 7 and prepare to go into Election Day this Saturday I decided to take a look at the voter turnout for the various districts from the past election to see what type of things might get people to vote. As many of you know, voter turnout for the General Election ended up around 7% of registered voters. That’s pretty dismal considering that several of the races were hotly contested races. Even with the premiere race in District 1, the voter turnout for that district ended up around 10% with the best precinct in that district coming in at around 24% (King William). With presidential races running around 60-65% and statewide races getting 25-30% what’s wrong with San Antonio voters at the local level?
I finally have had a chance to take a look at the two council races that are in a runoff after San Antonio’s municipal general election. Most everyone knew that District 1 and District 7 would end up in a runoff with such a crowded field and several good candidates in the field. What surprised some though, was how close Cris Medina was to pulling off a victory and how Diego Bernal vaulted a very talented field to end up in first place facing Ralph Medina in a run0ff. I’ve already written how I think both races will end up based on election results and past history. However, I did decide to take the time and break down the races once the canvassed votes were posted. Read more…
Tonight was the District 1 candidate forum for runoff candidates, Diego Bernal and Ralph Medina, held at Mark Twain Middle School. Mark Twain was the site of the last candidate forum prior to the election, held by a coalition of 11 neighborhood associations. The crowd tonight was about 60% of the last forum which is what I predict turnout for the runoff to be on June 11th. Honestly, we’ll be doing good to get 3,000 voters or so to the polls for the runoff. But even with limited participation the candidates were still ready to field the questions provided by citizens. So how do things look as we get ready to jump into early voting that runs from May 31 – June 7?
Yesterday I started looking back at San Antonio’s general election and what really happened last weekend. One thing is pretty clear in that the conventional political wisdom was thrown for a loop with the victory of Rey Saldaña in District 4 and the large lead Diego Bernal had over the rest of the pack in District 1. Saldaña beat a political insider who not only had the backing of the business and City Hall insider crowd but also the endorsement of the mayor. Bernal started the race in third place but emerged the frontrunner with a 12 point lead over the expected frontrunner, Ralph Medina. Both candidates are young and new to the San Antonio political scene with very little experience or exposure with voters. So what propelled these two newcomers to their surprising outcomes?