Nirenberg, former mayors make final push against proposed charter amendments
Mayor Ron Nirenberg, four former mayors and a bipartisan group of elected and community leaders on Monday called on local citizens to vote against three proposed charter amendments backed by the city’s fire union that they said would cause tremendous harm to the city.
Nirenberg was joined by former mayors Julián Castro, Phil Hardberger, Ed Garza and Henry Cisneros. The five, along with former mayor Lila Cockrell, are featured in a Go Vote No television ad that began airing Monday.
“For us to have a great future here in San Antonio together, we have to run through the tape,” Nirenberg said, referring to the Nov. 6 finish line. “So we’re asking everyone to join us in one last push for the polls today.”
The proposed amendments would make it easier to use referendums to challenge council decisions, including on tax and utility rates; cap the salary of future city managers and impose a term limit; and give the firefighters’ union unilateral power to decide when contract negotiations would be taken into binding arbitration.
RELATED: Charter-amendment campaigns lopsided on contributions, spending
“There have been times in San Antonio’s history when we were like a car that was barely moving,” Hardberger said. “Well, we’ve got it in fourth gear now and we’re about to go into overdrive, and yet we have some people who have come out of the woodwork that would have it go into reverse.
“So I’m going to ask the citizens of San Antonio to not let San Antonio be shoved into reverse and lose 20 years or so. We are making this a great city that gets better every day.”
The breath of the political support against the measures was on full display Monday at the Go Vote No headquarters. Standing behind the mayors were more than two dozen community leaders, Republicans and Democrats. They held blue-and-orange campaign signs as the former mayors rallied in front of them.
Nirenberg said the Go Vote No campaign spans the local political divide.
Former and current elected leaders who have thrown their support behind Go Vote No include former councilman Reed Williams, a Republican; community activist and former Councilwoman Patti Radle; Joe Straus, the former Republican speaker of the Texas House of Representatives; U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio; and state Rep. Diego Bernal, D-San Antonio.
Meanwhile, the progressive Texas Organizing Project continues to knock on doors, asking more than 100,000 voters to cast ballots against two of the propositions.
Toward the end of the news conference, Nirenberg turned to the bank of TV cameras and began speaking directly to the city’s firefighters. He doubled down on his strategy of targeting union President Chris Steele, even as the union and its allies have pushed back against what they have deemed “personal attacks” on the longtime fire leader.
“Chris Steele is no friend to the San Antonio firefighters. For four years, we have attempted to ask Chris Steele to come to the table to negotiate a contract on behalf of the members of this community — the firefighters and their families who put their lives on the line every single day,” he said. “For four years, we have been told ‘No,’ and that’s not right.”
Josh Baugh is a staff writer in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @jbaugh