1. Do you support the addition of two new nuclear power plants to the South Texas Project to meet our future energy needs? If not, please describe the alternatives you favor. If so, please explain your position or philosophy on the long-term storage of nuclear-fuel waste.
At this point, I am very skeptical about the addition of two new nuclear power plants. I prefer focusing on alternative ways of generating energy, such as wind and solar. In addition, I am supportive of CPS Energy’s vision of moving from a centralized power model to a distributed energy model. I am also in favor of using building techniques that reduce the need for energy from fossil fuels. We must also continue to educate the public about the need for energy conservation.
2. Do you support Mayor Hardberger's Mission Verde initiative in its entirety? If so, what do you see as the most critical steps council must take to implement it successfully? If not, do you support any of its provisions, and why (not)?
Yes, I do support the Mayor’s Mission Verde initiative in its entirety and when I am elected to City Council will encourage the new council and Mayor to make every effort to implement the recommendations included in the initiative. bsp; In order to implement the specific initiatives in the Mission Verde plan, it is very important that we have a working group that involves relevant city staff and other knowledgeable members of the community to oversee the effort. Ensuring that all the city staff members embrace and understand the overall effort is key so that each of the city departments can contribute toward the effort as well. Continued public education is also important, so that the citizens can support the effort and understand any budget allocations made toward it. I am particularly excited about the idea of the Green Jobs program. I believe that human development is a critical component of any of our efforts to improve the city and we have many citizens who could benefit from the opportunity to be trained for jobs in the emerging green sector. An example that would fit our needs in District 2 is training residents to perform weatherization and “green retrofits” on many of our existing older homes.
3. What is the right mix of public-transit options for San Antonio’s future, and what do you think is the best method to fund/maintain each element?
We should definitely focus on maximizing our current public transit agency, VIA. As part of that effort, I believe that we should provide incentives for individuals and families to locate in the inner city. These areas are already served by VIA and an increase in density would facilitate greater efficiency in service provided by VIA. It is very expensive for VIA to try to reach all the new development areas north of Loop 1604. I also believe that Bus Rapid Transit is a viable option that should be explored for areas beyond the Fredericksburg corridor. While I would enjoy the opportunity to use light rail, I believe that further study is needed in order to determine whether the benefit would justify the cost. Our city’s development pattern over the last thirty years has not provided the dense clusters necessary to make light rail efficient. I am not sure whether development in those dense nodes would follow the light rail if it were built. I believe that a thorough dialogue with our transportation entities, elected officials and citizens is necessary before a final decision is made. I believe that we should continue to use the existing funding from federal transportation funds, funds generated through the farebox and also the sales tax used for the Advanced Transportation District. If we were to pursue light rail, a large amount of subsidy through the federal government would be necessary. I also would be in favor of being creative in seeking new sources for transportation funding.
4. If San Antonio faces a budget shortfall, where would you be willing to make budget cuts?
I would make budget cuts to non essential services that do not immediately impact the health and safety of the community.
5. What are your top spending priorities for the HOT tax? Would you support a recommendation to use some of those funds to expand the Convention Center?
I would continue to use the Hotel Occupancy Tax to support and market tourism which is a vital element of our economy. In addition, I would use the funds to preserve and restore some of our historical and cultural resources that attract people to San Antonio as a vacation or convention destination. District Two has many historical sites of interest that could generate interest from visitors if an investment is made into restoring and interpreting the sites.I would want to carefully examine a proposal for a convention center expansion. With the recent downturn in the national economy, the number of large conventions may decrease and I would want to have a cost benefit analysis based on projected attendance at conventions to determine whether the additional space is needed.
6. Please briefly describe your conception of San Antonio’s economy, its strengths and weaknesses, and what you would do to build on the former and address the latter?
San Antonio’s economy is strong and as evidence of that, we have not felt the full impact of the current national economic downturn. Our strengths include our military sector, tourism, and emerging bioscience and technological sectors. We have many small businesses that deserve continued support. The most recent Base Realignment and Closure has presented a tremendous opportunity for our community and will have a long term impact on the city. As councilperson, I will work to facilitate the BRAC plans and maximize the positive impact on the community surrounding Fort Sam Houston. In addition, I will work to support our many small businesses.
Our biggest weakness is that many of our citizens are not prepared for jobs. Our high school drop out rate and teen pregnancy rate seriously threaten our future economic development. San Antonio will not be an attractive spot for companies to relocate if they are not able to fill jobs with our citizens. As councilperson, I will make human development a major priority and will work collaboratively with a variety of organizations and institutions to address these issues. Another solution for our community is to facilitate UTSA achieving Tier One status. As councilperson, I would look to assist in that effort as well. An emerging weakness for our city, are the increasing traffic and transportation issues. We have not reached the point of having crippling traffic like Houston, Los Angles, and Atlanta. If we want to remain competitive, we must ensure that we address our traffic and transportation issues proactively. In addition to seeking funding for new roads, connectors and public transportation options, I believe that we should incentivize development in the inner city and pursue balanced growth options.
7. Keeping in mind the playground scandal, the Healy-Murphy Park sale, and the El Mercado flap, how would you increase accountability and transparency at City Hall? Specifically, would you change the role or method of choosing a City Auditor, and his/her scope of authority
As a City Councilperson, I will be transparent and accountable. I plan to increase regular communication with constituents through a variety of means, including regularly scheduled town hall meetings, newsletters, and e-mail blasts. At this point, I would not recommend changing the role or method of choosing a City Auditor. The Auditor already reports to the Mayor and City Council through the Audit subcommittee and also has a peer review process to ensure the integrity of the audit program. In light of the playground scandal, I would like to discuss the potential for citizen advisors to work in conjunction with the City Council’s Audit subcommittee to increase accountability. But ultimately, the citizens must elect council people who have integrity and are genuinely working to further the health, safety and welfare of citizens. I will be that type of councilperson.
8. Do you support extending the digital-billboard pilot program? If so, what restrictions, if any, would you recommend on their placement and use?
At this point, I am not in favor of extending the digital billboard program. I would reconsider pending the results of any studies initiated to determine the impact of digital billboards. I am particularly concerned with the possibility that the billboards increase the likelihood of auto accidents.
9. Do you support SAWS' current plans to secure San Antonio's water supply? If so, please explain why. If not, please explain what you believe they should be doing differently.
Yes, I support SAWS current plans to diversify San Antonio’s water supply. We cannot continue to only focus on the Edwards Aquifer, given the rate of growth of our population. I support their efforts to seek water from a variety of sources including other aquifers and also using recycled wastewater for non drinking purposes.
10. Please briefly describe how you financially support yourself. How will you balance your work demands with your council responsibilities? Do you foresee any conflicts of interest between your profession (or former profession, if you're retired) and a position on council? If so, how will you handle these?
I work for Merced Housing Texas, a nonprofit housing provider. I plan to continue working part time when I am elected to City Council. If an issue involving Merced comes before the City Council, I will recuse myself to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. If I find that I am unable to meet the demands of City Council while working, then I will resign my position and my husband will support our family.
11. What is your opinion regarding the Parade Ordinance that is the subject of the Free Speech Coalition lawsuit? Specifically, what fees, if any, should the city charge for parade permits? Should they distinguish between types of applicants and events, and if so, how and by whom should those decisions be made?
I strongly believe that we must protect our right to free speech and our right to assemble for peaceable protests. The City should only charge the fees necessary to cover the costs associated with ensuring a safe environment when large groups of people assemble. The anticipated size of the event should be the determining factor is setting a fee.
12. Please briefly describe your philosophy toward the maintenance and funding of publicly owned and/or operated spaces such as golf courses, libraries, parks, and El Mercado. Should these entities break even, make a profit, or be viewed as investments with tangible returns? Please propose a solution for the issues surrounding either Healy-Murphy Park, El Mercado, or La Villita.
I believe that the City should make every effort to ensure that these types of entities are not a drain on the budget. Our goal should be for them to break even or make a profit. I don’t believe that they should be viewed as financial investments but we still have a responsibility to avoid a negative impact to the City’s budget as a result of owning and operating these entities. As Councilperson, I would encourage the staff to explore creative solutions and partnerships to maximize the potential for our golf courses, libraries, parks and cultural landmarks.
In reference to Healy Murphy Park, I would explore several solutions; including determining the open space needs of the adjacent Salvation Army and determining what uses may be appropriate for the historic Dullnig house which could possibly also utilize the open space. The suggestion has been made to convert the Dullnig house into a police substation. I would consider that, but would want to examine the costs involved and also determine whether that use would be compatible with the historic nature of the existing structure. I would also explore whether any community partners would assist with the cost of upgrading the park to include new plantings and playscapes.
13. If we've failed to raise a question or issue that you feel represents your values and priorities as a candidate, please discuss it here.
I briefly addressed it in my response about the economy, but I would like to re-iterate that one of my major priorities will be human development. People are the building blocks of our neighborhoods and businesses. It is imperative that we increase access to educational and job training opportunities. In addition, I believe it is important to address the barriers that citizens face in accessing job training and educational opportunities. While many of those issues may not specifically fall under the authority of San Antonio City Council, we must work collaboratively to address issues like our high school dropout rate and high teen pregnancy rate. I will commit to working creatively with community partners to address barriers to success. Once people have the tools to be self-sufficient, it will reduce the need for many services that the City provides. In addition, I strongly believe that we must protect and support our community’s seniors who hold our community’s history and cultural heritage in their hearts and minds.
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