With all ten city council seats up for election this cycle, San Antonio residents have an opportunity to change the culture of corruption and fiscal mismanagement that plagues city hall – but only if they elect those who not only have identified the problem but are prepared to take action as well.
Come January, the new council will take what is arguably its most important vote as a body in regards to deciding the direction the city heads: renewal of City Manager Sheryll Sculley’s contract.
Unlike the other major cities in Texas, San Antonio uses a “City Manager” form of government – meaning that an unelected bureaucrat wields an inordinate amount of the municipality’s decision-making authority. This is a difficult system to defend at face value – appointed bureaucrats lack the accountability of elected officials. In San Antonio, it has led to a runaway city government, gross misallocations of city resources, and unpopular pet projects.
For example, the city’s public safety sector has long been neglected in favor of other spending items. San Antonio has 34 full-time EMS stations with vehicles citywide. Compare that to Austin, which has 45 – and only 60 percent of the population San Antonio does. Combined with traffic, that can lead to some fairly concerning response times.
In fact, as Texas Scorecard has reported previously, the coverage is so thin that first-responders’ radios can’t even reach some of the newly annexed areas in the city, which is a de-facto violation of the Texas Constitution.
During Sculley’s fourteen year tenure, public safety spending has increased a mere 81 percent – which is less than any other portion of the budget and hardly in line with population/inflation. Meanwhile, economic development has increased a staggering 491 percent.
It has been over a decade since San Antonio had different leadership. Considering that council now takes in a full-time salary, it is unconscionable that the city’s elected leaders don’t think for themselves and instead bow to the tax-and-spend whims of an appointed bureaucrat. This cycle, residents need to ask their candidates whether they’ll represent their constituents or merely continue the status quo.