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Council to pick Ramos' replacement this week 

Eight candidates have lined up hoping to fill the shoes of outgoing District 3 Councilwoman Jennifer Ramos, who's leaving less than halfway through her second Council term to run for a spot on Bexar County Commissioners Court. While we'll see this week who's tapped to lead D3 over the course of the next year, we'll also get a chance to watch Council test-drive its new system for picking interim council members, designed to avoid complaints of cronyism or back-room dealing in replacing Council members who bow out early.

As per an ordinance pushed by Mayor Julian Castro halfway through his first term, and unanimously supported by Council at the time, candidates seeking interim appointments now file applications with the City Clerk's office. Under the new rule, Council members openly review and interview all applicants before voting in an interim member to fill out the rest of the term. Council is set to interview Ramos' potential replacements at Council's “B” session Wednesday, the final vote scheduled for Thursday's “A” session.

Prior to the new rule, outgoing Council members essentially handpicked their replacements, leaving the rest of Council to either approve or deny the appointments. Council passed the new policy on the heels of a controversial 2010 appointment, when then-D4 Councilman Philip Cortez chose soon-to-be wife Leticia Cantu to fill in while he left for a three-month stint in Air Force Reserve training. Cantu eventually did her best to capitalize on her time at the dais, making it the jumping off point for her 2011 campaign for the D4 seat (she ultimately lost to current D4 Councilman Rey Saldaña).

Proving the power of appointment, Ramos herself even rose under the old system. Serving as an aide to then-Councilman Roland Gutierrez, she was appointed to the D3 seat in 2008 when Gutierrez left to run for the Legislature. In 2009 she ran unopposed for the D3 Council seat, and in 2011 she won her second full term.

For her replacement, the eight candidates on file sport varying ties to local politicos, some well-known faces around town or at City Hall.

Michael Tejeda, 34, as a former chief of staff for current D5 Councilman David Medina is well acquainted with the City Hall machine and former Harlandale school board president. Also in the running is Benjamin Mora, a 37-year-old project manager with Federal Management Solutions who served as an aid to former councilmen Ed Garza and Rick Vasquez. Terry Boyd, a former U.S. Air Force master sergeant with close ties to the South San Chamber of Commerce (his wife, Cindy Taylor, was president of the South San Chamber for over two decades), has also thrown his name into the hat.

The other candidates include:

- 30-year-old Anthony Alcoser, assistant director of development at Texas A&M University-San Antonio and current Harlandale school board member.

- Leticia Ozuna, 45, a local cyber security analyst appointed by Ramos to the 2012 bond committee overseeing parks funding.

- Gabe Velasquez, 46, president of design firm OBDC, Inc., a member of the city's Cultural Arts Board and Avenida Guadalupe Association board member.

- Rebecca Viagran, 37, part owner of a local trophy shop.

- Local realtor Martin Cordero, 68.




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