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.
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?
The KLRN candidate forum, my final campaign event, is finally over and it’s time to pick my choice for District 1, the final district in my list of endorsements. I’ve held out on this district because it’s probably been the hardest to call since the race started. The slate of candidates is one of the best I’ve seen in San Antonio, aside from some of our mayoral races. After looking at the candidates, their strengths, and their weaknesses I’ve decided to support Ralph Medina as candidate for the District 1 council seat. Hopefully I lay out my reasons for the decision in a way that makes it clear. I know I’ll miss some points but I don’t want to write a book on the candidates. They each bring a wealth of skills to the table. I’ll let you read and then I encourage you to make your own decision based on this entry, the others I’ve provided, the information in the Express-News and Plaza de Armas, and finally your own values and interests.
Interestingly, the last conversation I had with the District 1 candidates is the one I could have probably had several months ago. I sat down with Chris Forbrich at El Mirador, less than a block away from his office in the King William District, to talk about this race. But, in some ways, it was really just a continuation of his campaign from 2009 against incumbent Mary Alice Cisneros. Anyone who knows Chris knows he’s been in campaign mode since the day after that election, focusing on the open seat. Some might consider this good campaign strategy since it got Forbrich name recognition challenging one of the strong political families of San Antonio and winning a few supporters for bucking the norm. But, with a new field of candidates and issues, did Forbrich adapt the campaign?
When I arranged to sit down with Ralph Medina to find out more about him as a candidate for the District 1 seat, I made the request I’d made to the other candidates – you pick the place and time, I’ll pick up the check, so long as the place is in District 1. So we agreed to breakfast at Taco Haven on S. Presa, right on the south edge of the district. I’ve always wanted to go to Taco Haven, knowing the reputation of the local eatery and Medina gave me my opportunity. As I started to enjoy my chilaquiles with a side order of bacon, my favorite, Medina started giving me some insight into why, after retiring from the San Antonio Fire Department, he opted for more public service as a city councilmember.
Tuesday night candidates for the District 1 council seat came together for what is probably the last public candidate forum before early voting starts. Granted KLRN will be broadcasting their candidate forum on Sunday, May 1st, at 3 p.m.. But this was a chance for the candidates to meet constituents face to face and hear for themselves where the candidates stood on key issues. Interest was high enough to pull together seven neighborhood associations and almost fill the auditorium at Mark Twain Middle School. Based on public interest and the quality of answers from the candidates, we have ourselves one of the best races in District 1 in a long time.
Okay, I know the title wasn’t that original, but it seems to fit Diego Bernal’s candidacy better than any other one I could come up with. Bernal’s campaign is one of the leanest and greenest of all of the candidates in District 1 but that’s not stopping this young civil rights attorney in his quest for a seat on the dais in City Hall. What makes his candidacy even more interesting are all the dynamics surrounding his bid for office. For a district as diverse as D1 that’s definitely a good start to connect with the voters in the district.
I’m sitting with a couple of friends in between sessions at MobiCamp San Antonio just after I presented on how the mobile phone will some become your identity. Both are politically savvy and are residents of District 1. I strike up a conversation about the upcoming D1 race and how interesting it should be. “Yea, there are three people running, right?” said one of my friends. No, there are four. When she started naming the candidates it was Carolyn Kelley’s name she left out. “Carolyn who?” That helped confirm something I’ve been seeing in the race for D1. Kelley’s being called the insider of the race but, in reality, she may be more of an outsider in the district than people think.
A friend of mine, Victor Landa, once told me the best way to get to know someone is to share tacos with them. So, to get a better handle on the candidates of District 1 I shared tacos and other food with the four main candidates. We met over breakfast and lunch the past couple of weeks, all in preparation for a series of detailed blog entries to be published in the coming week. During those meetings I found that this slate of candidates is really providing voters in District 1 with a difficult choice of who will represent them on San Antonio’s city council. But what really came out is how important this race is when looking at the future of San Antonio.
It’s time for the municipal elections in San Antonio and 2011 should prove to be interesting. I covered most of the districts in a prior post, except for one district. So that brings me to my home district, District 1. This district is where I predict all the fun will be had for the 2011 election cycle. Currently there are four announced candidates for the seat currently held by Mary Alice Cisneros, who terms out in 2011. Not only do I expect this district to be the hottest race in the munis it’s also the one I’ll be watching most closely since I live in the district. So who are the candidates at this point and what are their backgrounds?
We haven’t even gotten through the 2010 election cycle and candidates for the 2011 municipal election are already jockeying for position, especially in District 1. In 2011 Councilwoman Mary Alice Cisneros will be vacating her office due to term limits (she was not covered by the term limit extensions) and a field is already developing to run for her office. Greg Jefferson, columnist with the San Antonio Express-News, detailed some of the early political moves by District 1 candidates. It a good read and he’s a lot more cued in on the race than I am so I’ll leave any candidate analysis to him at this point. But a big question in mind is what would make a good District 1 candidate? Read more…