Justin Rodriguez, Councilman, District 7

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 believe there are still too many unknown variables to commit to such a massive undertaking.  In particular, I have long been skeptical of the real financial commitment required to develop additional nuclear capabilities.  It seems that the capital requirements increase every day and there is still no realistic projections on how further investment in nuclear will impact the ratepayer both in the short and long term.  We have to commit to a diverse energy portfolio that includes investment in wind, solar, and natural gas.  We also must redouble our efforts in the area of 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)?

I support it completely and have had quite a bit of input in implementing policy that will be adopted as part of Mission Verde.  Specifically, one of the first policy initiatives that I launched was the concept of looking at the Green Chicago plan and localizing some of those concepts.  Recently, our Council adopted construction standards for new construction that will phase in a green building code.  This will eventually lead to a net-zero carbon emission impact on all new buildings by 2030. In order to continue the progress of Mission Verde, we must fully fund and empower the City’s Office of Environmental Policy. 

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?

There is no question that San Antonio is behind the curve when it comes to funding a viable mass transit system.  The most feasible mix of options includes the completion of bus rapid transit (BRT) routes such as the one slated for the Fredericksburg Road corridor.  In terms of funding, we will need to creatively approach options that include a sales tax for options such as light rail as well as leveraging dollars that come from the state and federal government.

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

I believe that we would have to make across the board budget cuts in the range of 2-4%, with the exclusion of any cuts from our fire and police budgets.  

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 make further investments to improve and expand San Antonio’s appeal as the number one tourist destination in Texas.  Before making further investment in expansion of the Convention Center, I would request a utilization study to determine if the current capacity is adequate.

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?

I believe our strengths continue to be the hospitality industry, military training, bio-medical, and service.  We need to diversify our economy by bringing in more high-paying jobs in the technology and financial sectors.  I would make a concerted effort to allocate resources through the Economic Development department to recruit more opportunities for our citizens.  We also are currently making an effort to create green jobs as part of the Mayor’s Mission Verde plan.

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?  

I would put in measures to ensure that the city auditor remained directly accountable to the City Council or, in the alternative, made him/her directly accountable to the voters.

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 was the only council person to vote against the digital billboard pilot program last year and I remain steadfast in my opposition to additional 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

It must improve:  First and above all it is the responsibility of SAWS to manage the greatest natural resource phenomena known to this planet, our pristine aquifer.  Our water and reserves should outlast the drought and I will hold SAWS accountable to a more clearly articulated management plan where conservation is improved upon and is made a household name as it should have been since the drought of the early 1980’s.  SAWS is well funded by our rate payers and they must be good stewards of the monies they collect.
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 am employed as an attorney and investment banker and have the good fortune of setting my own hours.  There is no question that it is a financial sacrifice to serve our community but one that is well worth taking.  I have had no conflicts my first two years in office and I don’t envision any on the horizon. 

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 encourage civic activism and the right of everyone to petition their government.  I am a firm believer in free speech and believe there must be a delicate balance between financial burdens and keeping our public streets safe and accessible for all regardless of message.   

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. 

If the spaces are publicly owned then they are the responsibility of the City, regardless of expense especially for historical destination spots such as La Villita and El Mercado.  These shouldn’t be seen as “money-makers” for the city but should be preserved hopefully at a breakeven point for the City.  Regarding those that may cost the city money, I believe that a careful analysis must be done to look at ways to make these more palatable for the City.  In no way, however, do I support the sale or lease of icons such as La Villita or Market Square. 

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. 
My viewpoint as the current council member is that our role has to be twofold.  First, we have an obligation to provide basic services to our residents.  Secondly, we have a broader responsibility as policy makers to make this City a better place for future generations.  I believe my best work has been my green initiatives that include a fleet purchasing plan and a citizens committee on environmental policy.  I have had the opportunity to speak on behalf of the mayor at several statewide conferences about our green initiatives and there is no question that we are leaders in the field.  That is something I am very proud of.   

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