Five land commissioner candidates sat down with Texas Scorecard as part of our Uncut Conversations series to discuss a wide range of issues, including the preservation of the Alamo.
Current Land Commissioner George P. Bush outraged Texans across the state after unveiling plans to “reimagine the Alamo.” These plans included relocating the historic Cenotaph to a lesser plaza across the street. Victor Avila, a former ICE agent, expressed his intentions to keep the Cenotaph in its current location.
“We need to protect, preserve, and defend the Alamo—simple as that. If somebody wants to move it, if somebody wants to change it, I would oppose that,” said Avila. “I’m ready to make the hard, right decisions instead of the easy, wrong ones. And that’s what I bring. I bring conviction, and I bring the citizens of Texas first. … I will defend the Alamo. I will leave it as is to preserve our history. No one’s going to move any monument anywhere.”
In addition to preserving the historic battlefield, State Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R–Lakeway) described her plans to resolve numerous structural issues currently facing the Alamo.
“I did find something really disturbing when I was visiting there a month or so ago. … The limestone walls are actually pulling the moisture out of the ground and it’s dissolving them from within, kind of like if you have limestone around your saltwater pool,” said Buckingham. “And so, they’re losing about 60 pounds of stone-shed, internally, [in] a year alone, and that’s been going on for a long time. So, there’s some big issues that we need to get in and fix to make it a meaningful experience and be sure it has the reverence it deserves.”
Other candidates focused on the historic site’s administrative problems, including a lease Bush signed that gave the city of San Antonio control over Alamo Plaza for 50 years. Businessman Ben Armenta criticized Bush for this decision.
“Last time I checked, the Alamo belongs to all Texans, and it was the Legislature on behalf of all Texans who determined that the land office should be in charge of overseeing our most treasured historical battleground,” said Armenta. “I have made this promise in my campaign that I will get us out of that deal and ensure that the land office is running the entire Alamo complex. … Texans have said the land commissioner needs to be the steward and the historian of that battlefield, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Similarly, former real estate commissioner Weston Martinez called out several practices allowed on Alamo grounds, including a policy that permits visitors to spread cremated remains at the site.
“Day one, we’re going to stop burials that are taking place at the Alamo. Right now, you can pay money to go spread your ashes among the Alamo defenders,” said Martinez. “When we see things that are being sold, something that’s sacred as the cradle of liberty … I mean, we have to put people over politics, and it’s not hard to do in this situation.”
Jon Spiers, a former heart surgeon and attorney, explained how preserving the Alamo is an important issue for many across the state, and protecting the site should be a priority for the land commissioner.
“The Alamo is something that is sacred to all Texans,” said Spiers. “And it should be a simple thing to do well because we all love it.”
All of the conversations with the land commissioner candidates can be viewed here.