John Carlos Garcia, Candidate for City Council, District 5 

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.

I am not in support of the current efforts to add two additional nuclear power plants to the South Texas Project. Although nuclear technology has made significant improvements since the time of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl the potential for disaster still exists. A March 18th article by Jennifer Vargas of Discovery News illustrates that Chernobyl radiation is having harmful effects on wildlife almost twenty-three years later. I believe the cost of any possible accidents due to human error or mechanical failure outweighs the benefits these plants would bring. In order to insure that we are able to meet our future energy needs I support increased conservation efforts. This includes holding city departments to the highest standard in energy consumption management and rising educational information on energy conservation methods for households and businesses. Next we should invest in the development of renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind, and bio-fuels. I understand that the transition cannot happen overnight, but we must have the foresight to invest today so that the future generations of San Antonio can continue to thrive.

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)?

I do support Mayor Hardberger’s Mission Verde initiative in its entirety. For this effort to have a successful impact on our city the council must insure that comprehensive research is done before budgeting becomes concrete. There is no quicker way to lose public support than running over budget. I would also like to insure that many of the new jobs that are created go to current San Antonians. With the rapid pace that technology advances trade skills are constantly being adjusted, and in some cases becoming obsolete. To stay competitive the workforce of San Antonio must have a high level of adaptability. Council must continue to support job training programs and possibly form a task force/ commission of qualified educators to assist with adaptability curriculum for training programs who receiving city funding.

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?

In order to reduce the economic and environmental costs of our current transportation system we should put more effort into the revitalization of Neighborhoods closer to the heart of our city. Continued outward expansion only creates longer commutes, congested roadways and increased pollution level. We must strengthen and improve the basic infrastructure of our existing communities as well as focus on crime reduction efforts. This will retain current and attract new families to live closer to the city. “Improve, not Move”. Living closer to the city means less need for long commutes, more effective use of current mass transit system and a reduction in pollution levels.

4. If San Antonio faces a budget shortfall, where would you be willing to make budget cuts?

Hopefully effective planning will eliminate the need for budget cuts, however in the event that cuts are necessary I support the idea of not eliminating entire departments or projects, but a small reduction of funding in all areas excluding public safety and emergency services.

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?


Top spending priorities for the Hotel Occupancy Tax should include tactics that would strengthen our tourism industry. The tourism industry in San Antonio provides many of our citizens with employment and we should do everything possible to remain a top tourist attraction. I do support funding for the expansion of the River walk and the Convention Center; these venues play a large role in the success of our tourism industry.

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 one of astonishing innovation. Really, we were able to attract Sea World without an ocean shoreline. Our biggest strength is our human capital. We are a city full of hard working talented people. The city is a leader in three economic industries; Tourism, Military and now Medical Sciences. However the wealth is not spread equally across the city. Development in our inner city continues to suffer. If we are not careful we could find ourselves in the same position as other American cities with strong suburbs and blight at our core. Quality of life for our inner city is tied to economic development. Everything is connected and these economic shortcomings must be addressed in order to take a proactive approach in a reduction of crime city wide.
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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?

Transparency and accountability are crucial to the function of a truly democratic system. I would be open to exploring different methods of the selection of a City Auditor. The office of City Auditor should be as far removed from “politics” as possible. The offices top priority should be across the board accountability. Anyone who is appointed to a paid office, and is in fear of being removed from their office by a small group of individuals is susceptible to falling into thinking “politically” when making decisions, and this isn’t the ideal situation.

8. Do you support extending the digital-billboard pilot program? If so, what restrictions, if any, would you recommend on their placement and use?

I believe that digital-billboards could be a step in the right direction. They are more efficient and more environmentally friendly when compared to traditional billboards. As long as there are no increases in traffic accidents due to possible distractions of changing messages I would be in support of their continued use, but would not be in favor of excessive signage on our roadways. With the ability to change messages on a single billboard this should reduce the need in the amount of billboards.

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.

SAWS’ is an example of how effective planning leads to success. According to the San Antonio/Bexar County Transportation task force our community uses the same amount of water as we did twenty years ago while we have almost doubled in population. This is due to effective conservation efforts. CPS should study the efforts of SAWS.

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 have been a licensed Insurance Agent for the last twelve years. In 2002 I started my own Insurance Agency and worked smart and hard build the business. The day to day operations of my office are now handled by Managers, and I am free to focus my efforts towards public service. I have no personal nor business ties to any city contractors past or present, so I do not see any potential for conflicts of interest.

11. What is your opinion regarding the Parade Ordinance that is subject to 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 whom should those decision be made?

I am a strong supporter of the freedom of speech. I am not in support of the Parade Ordinance and do not believe that we should distinguish between types of applicants or events. I do realize that there is an issue of security and safety costs that must be addressed, but our national right to express our beliefs should not be infringed on. Groups should also be aware of the rights of the rest of the community and should work with the city to find an equitable solution to insure safety. If a law is passed it should apply equally to all.

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 our parks, libraries and cultural icons (El Mercado) should remain in the hands of the city. I do believe that we should do all we can to use these venues as sources of income when possible, but we should never allow these treasures to become privately owned. The city has found a way to become more efficient in many other areas so I don’t see why we cannot do the same for our parks, libraries, golf courses and cultural icons. If private enterprise can find a solution the City of San Antonio should be able to do the same.

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.

Public Notice! The main reason that I decided to run is to make a strong effort to build improve our public awareness in the policy making process. I have attended several so called “community” or “town-hall” meetings and have always found myself disappointed with the attendance rate. I really think that this is not due to lack of interest, but lack of an effective Public Notice Process for Public Hearings. I would like to build strong neighborhood associations across the district and give the people an effective channel to voice any concerns before decisions are made. It seems like these current “meetings” always take place after real decisions have been made. This tells people that their input does not matter. No matter what your position is on any given issue we all deserve the opportunity to express our position during the policy making process.


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