Mary Alice Cisneros, Councilwoman, District 1

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. 

San Antonio is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. It is important to invest in clean renewable sources of energy that leave as little an environmental impact as possible while encouraging conservation techniques. Nuclear energy is an option that has a lot of unanswered questions. We need to study and understand the environmental impact of long term storage of nuclear fuel waste. In addition, we also need to address any related security issues related with storing spent nuclear fuel.

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 the Mayor’s Mission Verde in its entirety. We will finally address the energy infrastructure that will produce new jobs, an opportunity to institute a green retrofit program, reassess our green building codes for new construction projects, and develop new economic development strategies.  This will impact the creation of sustainable real estate development and a transportation system that will serve all sectors and provide adequate modes of transportation.   The city council needs to bring in key stakeholders and track each component of the plan. Public input is crucial. The idea of creating a citizens environmental advisory committee will help to ensure implementation of the plan through direct oversight by the public. 

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? 

When it comes to public transit options it is important to take time to arduously examine which option best works for our city.  Whether is it high speed light rail, bus rapid transit, expanding services provided by VIA, or addressing physical highway infrastructure needs, we need more input from the public before committing to one particular solution, or perhaps a combination of them.
I support a multi modal system and integrate the RMA with VIA.  I support the San Antonio / Bexar County Transportation Task Force which has been charged with creating a more efficient and integrated system.  We must review the capacity of our existing funding options and explore funding avenues.   

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

I do not favor increasing city taxes or fees. A budget shortfall will require that we manage better and set priorities for the resources we have. However, we should never compromise services provided by police and fire departments.   I would ask all city departments to look at cost cutting measures and operate on a leaner budget without having layoffs, service reductions or tax increases.  Another option is to freeze salary increases and put a temporary freeze on new hires rather than to have a reduction of workforce.  
Additionally, we need to examine alternate ways to fund programs. In my district, I have found creative ways to fund programs when the City has slashed the budget. I have used tax increment financing tools, CDBG reprogramming, enterprise and empowerment zone funds, collaborations with ACCD and Goodwill, and private sector donations.

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 support the use of HOT tax funds to expand the Convention Center. Additionally, we should also use funds to reinvest in public gathering spaces that celebrate the flavor of San Antonio.

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 is the seventh largest city in the county and one of the fastest growing. We are home to several military bases, academic institutions, and recently automobile manufacturing. The San Antonio economy is based in large part on small business ownership. We need to ensure that these businesses thrive while attracting new businesses to diversify our economy in the area of biotechnology. As chair of the economic and community development committee, I have promoted programs that bring business to San Antonio and will continue to create inroads to new businesses that wish to come San Antonio    

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? 

The citizens of San Antonio deserve an independent auditor with the scope necessary to conduct findings to meet their objectives. The city auditor should be independent of oversight from the City Manager and report directly to the City Council and Mayor.  

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

The digital billboards may be useful in getting emergency information to the public but this must be measured against its impact on drivers and driver safety. We should gain input from groups such as the Sierra Club, Conservation Society, and Scenic San Antonio before any discussion on expanding the pilot program. 

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.

I am in support of SAWS’ current plan to further tighten the water restrictions.  San Antonio continually confronts adequate rain supply for the Edwards Aquifer.  We need to continue to conserve our water source.

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?

My current full time job is that of Councilwoman from District 1 and my salary is $20 a week.  I support myself through my income and that of my husband.  I do not foresee any conflicts of interest in the future and should there be any, I would prudently take the necessary steps to adhere to the ethics rules as delineated by the City of San Antonio and any other governmental requirements.   

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 voted against the parade ordinance. I believe it unfairly restricted people’s first amendment right to peaceably assemble. My position has not changed. No fees should be assessed for parade permits.  There should be no distinguishing in types of applicants or events.

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. 

Publicly owned spaces are no different than any other business in San Antonio; they need to be able to sustain themselves.  Public and historical sites however MUST not be sold should sustainability be an issue.  El Mercado, La Villita, golf courses, public libraries, and parks are the very investments for the city that attract residents and tourists alike.  They are the very fabric of our cultural beauty and all of us in San Antonio love and enjoy them. 
If any of these spaces are losing money, then we must responsibly evaluate the situation and determine what is causing the deficit.  That deficit must be addressed and changes that will make it self sufficient should be a high priority.  However, no decision should be made without the input from its tenants.  City staff has the responsibility to ensure all income generated from those open spaces is tracked and applied toward the maintenance, development, or expansion of those sites.  The solution to any existing problem is to carefully analyze the funds, the needs, the tenant’s experience, as well as exploring other success models before making recommendations on how to best approach the next steps.  The selling of publicly owned spaces such as El Mercado and La Villita is NOT an option.

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.

      Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts and idea.

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