Philip Cortez, Councilman, District 4

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 time, I am not convinced that nuclear energy is the best way forward for the City of San Antonio; although all options must remain on the table. I have reservations on national security matters and cost estimates. It would be preferable to continue our progression to seek renewable sources of energy that are also low-cost such as solar and wind energy as well as creating more incentives to have higher-mileage vehicles on our roads.

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 Mission Verde initiative as it was announced earlier this year. While we can have disagreements about the minor specifics, it is my opinion that this is the best way forward and is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong; and not supporting Mission Verde would be precisely that.

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? ?

As is a matter of public record, I support the City of San Antonio creating a single master plan that will address San Antonio’s public-transit problems. I believe that the future will move in a direction that allows for large-scale public transit such as light rail, incentives on higher-mileage vehicles and syncronizing VIA will other modes of public transportation.

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

All departments are subject to budget cuts in my opinion before public safety. Public Safety is an essential service from the city and provides the most basic of needs. I will work feverishly to make sure that public safety is the last item we look at if need be.

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?

The Convention Center should be a priority item funded by the HOT tax as it encourages tourism and spending. However, I would argue that public safety is our top priority to ensure that our tourist are properly protected and they are able to enjoy San Antonio in a safe environment.

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?

Our strength is obviously our medical and military facilities. Our weakness so far is the home-grown knowledge base. We must continue to offer the incentives to Washington D.C, in order to continue to bring those high paying jobs to San Antonio and other medical entities while strengthening the knowledge base here in San Antonio by working with the school district to increase the high school graduation rate and the number of students attaining bachelor degrees.

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 fact that many of these subjects are out in the open shows that we have a good system of transperancy at City Hall. However, having a strong and independent City Auditor would further help that cause and increase the amount of accountability; although the voters are the ultimate deciders of our actions at City Hall. I would be in support of having a City Auditor that could not be unseated unless it was by a super-majority of council such as an 8 vote minimum rather than the simple majority of 6 votes.

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 time we have not been fully briefed on the specifics of the digital-billboard program and would be glad to provide an answer to The Current once all facts have been presented.

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 do support SAWS plans to secure San Antonio water supply. It is important that the seventh largest city in the United States have an adequate water supply and to explore all means necessary to achieve that. SAWS has done an excellent job of keeping rates relatively low and providing a high-quality product to a large number of citizens.

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?

Currently, I support myself through my service to the United States Air Force and as the Community Representative to the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center. At this time, there have not been any conflicts of interest or major scheduling conflicts between the any of the organizations and I do not forsee any in the future.

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?

Due to the current circumstances, I do not believe it is appropriate at this time to answer any questions related to the Free Speech Coalition lawsuit. ?

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.

With respect to this issue, we must look at it from an optimal profit standpoint rather than an ultimate profit standpoint. While such entities as the El Mercado may turn a small deficit, there is a history and value to that history that can not be fully accounted for and so it should be to the judgement to the council as a whole as to what judgement to make on a case by case issue. With reference to libraries and parks, the city has a responsibility to ensure that all citizens, regardless of income status have amenities available to them such as books at a public library and proper parks to ensure a healthy lifestyle.

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.

Your questionairre covered a wide-range of issues and it is certainly one of the best. I enjoy answering your questions every year and thank you for this opportunity to discuss our city issues.

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