Q & A with Ernest Zamora, Jr.

San Antonio is about to come on hard times, given major budget cuts at a state and federal level. What programs do you think can be trimmed back? What should we not touch?

Education is one area that I will not recommend cutting back, but it does need some very fine tuning in order to make the best out the tax payers money. If we are going to invest in educational programs, it needs to be able to make that difference in peoples lives. Speaking about fine tuning, the city needs a Major overhaul in how efficiently it works, there are area’s that I see that there is no sense of conserving, such as Code Compliance. I have something very personal against Code Compliance, when residence call C.C. (Code Compliance) they are usually very laxed about it and take a day or more to respond, but yet they go about to neighborhoods sticking there nose into peoples lives who have no complaints against them and they quickly write them up. Even some C.C. employees believe they are above the Police, which is wrong. C.C. needs to remember the person they are disturbing is the one who pays their salary. To set an example, C.C. should stop wasting gas by aimlessly driving around, and it should only respond to complaints that are submitted by residents, which will save gas and C.C. will have a much quicker response time.

Are there programs you plan to champion to ease the impact of those outside funding cuts on our community? Are you committed to continuing the SA2020 process?

The south-southeast side has grown so rapidly, but yet a lot of our roads are in pour and neglected conditions, it was noted in a publication that San Antonio has the highest repairs to suspension on vehicles in Texas due to bad roads, and some of the reason’s why is due to roads not designed for shifting and moving ground, also its due to consistent Heavy Duty trucks and even the VIA Busses passing through certain area’s. I honestly don’t know much VIA pays the city, but I’m not sure enough of that money goes into our roads. I believe in SA2020 for the good, but will it be managed well enough will remain to be seen.

What is your position on the city’s investment in two proposed nuclear reactors at the South Texas Project? CPS Energy plans for early retirement of the Deeley coal plant? Renewable energy development?

Absolutely No New Nuclear Reactors. I honestly don't care how “clean” Nuclear Reactors can be, the elements and substances used to create this “clean” energy are far from being clean, the are down-right dangerous and deadly. I agree that Coal plants do create a lot of carbon emissions, but carbon emissions can always be cleaned before leaving the plant, however the same cannot be said for radiation contamination. Renewable energy is a major key to the city’s bright future, especially for solar power.

How could the city better support public education? Do you support efforts to allow Mayor Julián Castro to be able to appoint some school board members?

Meaningful partnerships must happen between the city and school districts to curve the school drop-out rates and improve education. I believe education must start at home and work its way back to public education. I believe I have a better insight in what goes on in our public schools since its only been 9 years since I’ve graduated from Brackenridge High School. It is true that there teachers who become relaxed in class or only teach the students that they ‘like’, plus they are teachers who want to become ‘cool’ with the students to avoid any complaints from the students. From my evaluation, public schools must bring more discipline to classes and not become a day-care for students. I have began to call students in school at times ‘The Entitlement Generation’ their belief is they think they are entitled to things like cell phones, iPods, and other devices in schools. I believe these devices must be entirely banned from schools, because they do cause students to become less involved and distracted in class. Such devices should be retuned to the parents and not entirely confiscated by the school. No, I do not agree that Julián should be able to appoint candidates for school boards. He should concentrate in his own campaign, but then again it could be because Julián believes that he dose not have much to worry about so he gets involved in other elections, which I believe is a bad sign.

Given the EPA is planning on toughening national air quality standards, what steps do you think the city can take to make sure our skies are healthy (and federal transportation keeps flowing to San Antonio)?

Being a Texas Vehicle State Inspection inspector, for years I’ve been hearing about how the state wants to start doing vehicle smog testing and I do believe its time, but in our terms. If we voluntarily agree to make it happen, what needs to happen is a 2-3 year transition to allow people to either repair or replace their vehicles, and also allow state inspection stations to be able to afford the equipment that is needed to perform the inspections. Also there should be special permits that allow classic cars or custom cars to drive among the roads as well that are not susceptible to smog emissions.

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?

They are several options to public transportation, however a lot discussions is about light-rail system, what I have against that, is how many homes and business will it have to displace in order to lay down the rail system. If any type of system like that wants to be installed, it would have to start in the out-skirts of the city since there is more room for it to be installed, then it can be implemented in the inner city when the room is available. I do believe it can be funded partially by the city, county, and others. It will be a wonderful asset to the city’s future for low cost public transit.

What life experiences make you uniquely qualified to serve on the city council?

I think coming from the actual streets of Dist. 3 would be my greatest asset and qualifications. While other publications seem to diss me for no experience in any city government or council, I do believe that is a great qualification because it means that I’m not exposed to the inner-workings of council, good or bad. It would be a huge breath of fresh idea’s inside the council. So in a way, I’m glad I have no experience because you only gain that experience once your working for the people who you represent.

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?

The city has a big strength in the tourism industry, which quite frankly will stay till the end of time as long as they are fresh things for people to come and enjoy. Sadly though its biggest weakness is science, and technology. Lot of that is due to poor education, I wish in some ways we could do away with the single plate school tests and allow us as a city or as a community to make certain adjustments to the test or teachings that would allow areas like science, and technology to be more apart of school testing.

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 will have to do what is needed to represent my District, if it means taking on a secondary job, I will. I do not see any conflict's of interests since current job has no ties to the city, and I do not foresee any involvement in the future in working with the city. If I have to take on another job, I will have to make sure it will not conflict with any interests with the city.

Should service on the San Antonio City Council provide a living wage? Why or why not?

This to me is the biggest drawback to running for council is if I’m elected, I will find myself in a desperate need of financial living income. I’m different from most candidates who work in higher paying jobs who can afford to make time, I work at near minimum wage and I will be making a sacrifice to do what is needed for the people I represent in District 3, but the current living wages and salary given to city council would not be able to keep me afloat. It is another reason why most conventional people who really have a passion in their community can-not run for council because it will literally drive them into financial ruin. I do not believe that the council should be paid a flat salary, but a tier salary depending on the council's yearly income at their normal job that will allow people who have less wages be able to run and be apart of council without having to have a financial burden over them.

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 would like to add more personnel funding and also build a new facility for Public Access. Back in late 2005, the city had to look into handling Public Access since a new Texas law has passed that did not allow the city to renew its franchise contract with Time Warner Cable that handled the Public Access equipment and studio’s. Essentially Public Access was thrown to the city’s lap, and the city handling of it was just pour. Pour enough that The Current removed it’s ‘Best in Public Access’ category after it’s transition. I believe in the long-run, Public Access can be handled by a third-party non-profit organization, but also be funded by the city’s 1% that it gets from Time Warner for equipment and supplies. A long-term dream of mine which I just announced in my Facebook campaign page, is to bring Automotive racing back to San Antonio. I would love to see a full NASCAR and NHRA racetrack in the south or south-east side, I believe it will upstage the announced Formula 1 race track that Austin has in the works. Plus it will bring tens of thousands of people and millions of dollars into District 3.


Find out what district you live in, how to register to vote, information on the the other districts and more in our 2011 City Council Election Guide.




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