Yesterday, I received a candidate questionnaire from KSAT TV 12, which they are using “to profile candidates on air and on our website.” This is just another example of how some in the media are trying to do the right, civic-minded thing. In my opinion, this questionnaire is exceptionally well designed, and I found it challenging to complete. My completed response is as follows:
Occupation: Insurance-compliance lawyer who retired from USAA in 2009
Education: Law degree from the University of Texas and B.A. in political science from the University of North Dakota
Family: father of four sons, all graduates of Clark HS – my oldest graduated from UTSA and is a captain in the Army in San Antonio, my second graduated from UT and St. Louis U Med School and is an E.R. doctor at the Mayo Clinic in MN, my third graduated from UTSA and works in acquisitions for Blackbrush Oil in San Antonio, and my baby is a student at Franciscan University in Ohio.
Why are you running for the city council? Because I have the time, energy, finances, and inclination to serve and because my background, critical-thinking skills, and governing values (a fiscal conservative who will not mortgage this position to special interests) will enable me to effectively represent the residents of District 8.
Have you run for the City Council before? No
What previous leadership experience do you have? During my last five years at USAA, I was in its Executive Management Group.
What do you hope to accomplish if elected to the City Council? Famed investor Warren Buffett once said, “Our experience has been that the manager of an already high-cost operation frequently is uncommonly resourceful in finding new ways to add overhead, while the manager of a tightly run operation usually continues to find additional methods to curtail costs, even when his costs are already well below those of his competitors.” My view is that San Antonio government is a high-cost operation and my hope is help transform it into a tightly-run operation.
What are the most difficult challenges facing the city of San Antonio? The City Council’s most difficult challenge will be converting the police-fire pensions from defined-benefit plans to defined-contribution plans; the city of San Antonio’s most difficult challenge will be to enable socio-economic mobility for disadvantaged kids.
What are the biggest obstacles facing economic growth in San Antonio? Adequate supply of water is a concern, but the biggest obstacle is an overweening city government that gets in the way of our vital, robust private sector. If the city persists in using a heavy hand to direct private sector growth toward its southern districts, the private sector is likely to be less robust or it will migrate north of the San Antonio city limits (as this trend was recently reported in the Express-News).
What can the city council do to help spur economic growth? Aside from getting out of the way of our private sector and keeping taxes as low as possible, the City Council needs to ensure that San Antonio remains a destination of choice for people and businesses by providing a world-class infrastructure. Out-of-town businesses should be solicited with incentives that are cost-effective to San Antonio.
Are there any decisions the current city council has made that you strongly disagree with? (1) The redistricting of City Council districts violated the City Charter and was grossly inequitable; (2) The elimination of race-neutral contracting and implementation of race-based contracting was unjustified and inequitable; and (3) although I support a path to citizenship, San Antonio should not be a sanctuary city and the City Council should not have criticized Arizona for its actions to address illegal immigration.
What items/programs would you cut from the current city budget? The city should not be spending tax dollars on culture/arts.
How did you vote on Pre-K 4 SA? Although I am concerned with the diminished socio-economic mobility in America, I voted against Pre-K 4 SA because (1) local education policy should be left to our experts in the local school district, and (2) a recent study of the largest and oldest pre-k program (Head Start) revealed that all gains achieved by its students disappeared by the 3rd grade. Instead of using the sales-tax money to create a 17th school district, I would have distributed it to the already-existing school districts in the form of a pre-k block grant.
What more should the city do to lower gang activity and crime in San Antonio? From a macro level, I believe that crime and gang activity are a reflection of declining morals in America and much of this is due to the growing culture of dependency on government and the resulting cycle of poverty. Our challenge is to retain our safety net while breaking up the culture of dependency. From a micro level, I as a City Councilperson will rely on the Chief of Police to develop initiatives that can lower gang activity and crime.
Are there any major infrastructure improvements you would like to see the city undertake? The city needs to direct additional resources to roads that are already needed instead of to street cars and light rail that are being proposed for the benefit of downtown developers.