Election - District 6 Growing pains

Growth, crime tops in District 6

With Councilman Enrique Barrera unable to run because he's maxed his term limit, the race for the District 6 seat is packed. Barrera hasn't endorsed any of the eight candidates, leaving each to establish his or her own identity and name recognition.

Political observers might remember Larry Romo and Pete Galaviz as returning challengers from previously unsuccessful council campaigns. Dominick Dina and Delicia Herrera, the only woman in the race, are the longtime activists trying to take their community service to the next level. Ray Peña and Michael Angelo Gonzalez are the standard businessman-turned-politician candidates, seeking to mirror their success in the business world by making city government more efficient.

Saul Santos, the youngest candidate, and Ray Lopez, the biggest spender in the race, were not available for interviews. Although Lopez has spent $20,000 more than the rest of the candidates, the crowded field makes a June runoff to determine the winner almost inevitable.

Michael Gonzalez: Looking for efficiency

Michael Gonzalez

Current: What is the most important issue facing District 6?

I would say our police and fire services, and revitalization of the district.

How do you plan on addressing these issues on Council?

I think if we're to bring more education, more awareness of `alternative` services, we could make our police officers more efficient.

Raising awareness is something that could be done without serving on City Council. Do you have any specific plans for addressing this issue as a city councilman?

I would like to create a fund that the City Council would oversee, and solicit big business, the private sector, to help fund the police and the fire. Once we do that, we can look at the financing part and if we need more money.

Having your entire background in business, how do you plan on making the transition to government service?

If we ran the City of San Antonio more like a business, we'd be more efficient. I would slide right into it because it's not too far off from what I do now. I'm in my businesses daily, I'm still hands on. I change tires, I fix cars, I sell my liquor off my own counter. I deal with the community every day.

Larry Romo: Crime crackdown

What is the most important issue facing District 6?

Infrastructure. As I've block-walked the streets, I've noticed many serious infrastructure problems.

How would you address the infrastructure problem?

I want to create a master plan and have citizen input, and, no later than September, we're going to present it to the city manager. We are going to prioritize which streets and areas are more important, and we're going to ask the manager and staff to give us a timetable to see when the goals are attainable.

How do you plan to strengthen the law enforcement and firefighting services in your district?

Within 90 days I'm going to have a law enforcement conference. There's a lack of public knowledge on what each law enforcement entity can bring to the table. We also need to address funding issues. I support a crime-control prevention district to go to voters in November to see if they want to vote on an 1/8-cent sales tax to give us more law enforcement assets.

Dominick Dina: Back to basics

Dominick Dina

What is the most important issue facing District 6?

Safety and security. Whether we're talking police or fire equipment or having adequate EMS response. The basics are what City Council is supposed to focus on: our safety and security and quality of life.

How do you plan to improve safety and security services on Council?

What I want to do to empower the district would be establishing a citizen council. It will be a monthly forum held by the citizens about the issues they care about. Why do I want to do that? Because a lot of citizens don't understand how government works, so I want to empower them by educating them.

What is the most important issue facing the City?

The first thing I need to do is work with other Councilmembers on the budget. Next year I want to go for zero-base budgeting. I think we've gotten out of balance in our budget because we have too many special interests coming to the table asking for this and that, and it's drawing away from our basic police, public works, and basic infrastructure.

Delicia Herrera: Provide services

Delicia Herrera

What is the most important issue facing District 6?

I can't say which is the most, but the three most important issues are crime, infrastructure, and economic development. If we don't have economic generators, we won't be able to deal with the crime or afford to pay for our infrastructure.

How would you deal with crime in your district?

It's the budget, allocating the funds for it. Working together with economic partnerships, community partnerships, educational partnerships. It's not solely a council issue; it's a community issue. I know there's talk of a crime district. I'm not in a position to say whether or not I support that because I don't have information.

What are your plans for handling the rapid growth in District 6?

One of the problems we're facing is we're bringing in communities, but we can't provide them services. We have to plan developments. If we're going to annex any areas we have to make sure we can provide services. We can't just bring them in just to get their taxes.

Ray Peña: Close the floodgates

Ray Peña

What is your motivation for running for City Council?

I would like to continue Mr. Barrera's legacy by makings sure everything he's been working on that was on the table gets completed.

What is the most important issue facing District 6?

I think the most important issue is the flooding of the district.

How do you plan on addressing that issue?

We need to make sure there's enough money `in the budget` to get bids out to construction companies to build at a higher elevation so the water won't flood the streets and people won't get hurt.

What is the most important issue facing the City?

Crime. If we can make sure our policemen and firemen are paid adequately, I think the morale would be a lot higher in the department and they would care a lot more and protect the people.

How do you plan on managing the rapid growth of District 6?

The best way would be to keep developers involved with the district at meetings to find out what their plans are, where they want to expand to. We need to make sure those developers that are building homes contribute to the city if we're allowing them to build, so that money can be used for the district.

Pete Galaviz: Managing growth

What is the most important issue facing the district?

The number of homes that are being built in the district. To absorb that many people in one area is going to tax the existing infrastructure. The second most important issue is the drug problem.

How do you plan on handling the rapid growth in District 6?

We obviously need to increase the number of building inspectors. I'm not much for growing city government, but there are times when you have to do that.

Does your district need more law enforcement officers to handle drug and crime problems?

Absolutely not. We don't need any more policemen. We have too many specialized groups within the police department. The tendency of politicians is to create a specialized group to address a problem, from graffiti to gangs, etc.

What is the most important issue facing the city?

The budget is out of control. The other thing I have a great concern with is the high-school dropout rate.

How would you address high-school dropouts as a councilman?

We need to offer an alternative program to dropouts. What I think we need to do is set up a technical training academy, and what we can offer is a trade.

Ray Lopez: Impending revitalization

What is the most important issue facing District 6?

I think how to handle the impending revitalization of the district and the growth that's coming is the most important. We need to figure out a way to have economic investment in the areas that need it most. We need to make sure places like Edgewood have an increasing tax roll, not a decreasing.

How do you plan on dealing with the growth of the district on City Council?

From an economic development perspective, we need to reach out to the community and create an interest in investment by identifying areas the City has influence over and making them available to the development community. We should partner with the development community to make sure if they want to develop in areas that are attractive to them, they develop in some of the areas that are not attractive as well.

What's the most important issue facing the city?

Taking care of the basic needs for the entire city. We need regional initiatives that have to do with safety and water. I'm not the kind of guy that's going to say we should go buy a whole lot of land to protect the aquifer. I am for protecting the aquifer, but we also need to protect ourselves from the water that doesn't go into the aquifer and floods our streets. We can very easily build a good long-term system that puts curbs on streets and drainage that allows us to funnel the floodwater into existing reservoirs.

What are your plans for dealing with safety and security issues in the district?

I am for a crime control prevention district that allows the City to raise money off of sales tax and direct it specifically at crime prevention initiatives. I would like to fund an Office of Domestic Violence and other preventive programs with this money.

Text and interviews by Elyas Bakhtiari

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