Trinity community gears up for mayoral election


Graphic by Alexandra Parris

Trinity faculty, staff and students will flock to the polls this Saturday to cast a vote in the San Antonio mayoral election — a packed race of nine candidates, including one Trinity alumnus: incumbent mayor Ron Nirenberg.

Although there are nine mayoral hopefuls, two candidates — Nirenberg, class of 1999, and Greg Brockhouse, District 6 councilman — have stood out as the front runners according to Juan Sepulveda, a professor in the Department of Education. Sepulveda worked as a Texas state director for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and currently teaches a new course, GNED-3315, “The Mayor and The City.”

“Part of it is just does the community even know who a lot of these folks are? So unfortunately for a lot of folks who are running, people don’t know who they are. Most people who are voting now are voting for the mayor and the councilman, who are the two they know the best,” Sepulveda said.

In Sepulveda’s course, students work all semester long to improve an issue assigned by Nirenberg himself. This semester’s topic is the “American Dream,” or intergenerational poverty.

“The class is really about helping students understand how policy making takes place, and in particular how it takes place at the municipal level,” Sepulveda said.

According to Sepulveda, Nirenberg’s campaign has been focused on the work he has already done for the city and how he will continue to help. Brockhouse’s campaign has been centered around how he thinks that Nirenberg hasn’t been handling city issues the right way. Despite this, both candidates have similar focuses on public safety, job creation and public transportation.

Senior Rachel Herzog, who is in Sepulveda’s course, attended a mayoral debate between Nirenberg and Brockhouse for this course and was surprised by their similarities but also recognized their differences.

“What was really interesting was not the differences as much as they actually had a lot of similarities in their perspectives that I was surprised by. I expected them to be more different,” Herzog said. “From the debate you could tell their political leanings and the more social issues they had different political leanings, but if you look at some of the stuff they discussed, like public transport, they had some similar thoughts about [it], just different ways of wording it.”

Although they have similar sets of issues, junior Phillip Trenthem believes that their constituents are very different. Trenthem has been following this mayoral election all semester for his Urban Studies class.

“[Brockhouse is] very focused on saying, ‘We want to do what the people want and to listen to the people’s concerns,’ but I’ve been to a meet-and-greet with Brockhouse, and even though he’s talking about what the people want and stuff, whoever shows up to his events is definitely not representative of the population of San Antonio. It was a pretty good racial mix but definitely no young people were represented and very few women,” Trenthem said.

Trenthem also actively followed the mayoral election from two years ago, when Nirenberg was first elected.

“I was looking at Nirenberg and what he was up to. I think he definitely has young people in mind more than Brockhouse, just judging from who has come out in support of Brockhouse and who generally supports Nirenberg. He just does seem like more of a mayor who, because of his stances on progressive issues and representation, would listen to young people more than Brockhouse probably. Although because of Brockhouse’s claims and statements and stuff he would probably be open to hearing our concerns, but I don’t know if he would ever follow through,” Trenthem said.

Herzog agrees that Nirenberg has the best interests of all of San Antonio in mind.

“I think Nirenberg thinks a lot more about the San Antonio community as a whole. Brockhouse has a strong hold on his district and the people he directly represents right now in the city council and then the police and fire departments, but I don’t think he’s as big-picture as Nirenberg. I think Nirenberg has the better intentions for the city but a lot of that comes from personal, political beliefs,” Herzog said.

In addition to being a Trinity graduate and connecting with students here for internships and jobs on his administration, this new course has been another way for Nirenberg to engage with youth voters.

“It’s been interesting to see mayor Nirenberg really reaching out to young people and including them, and you can see it in his campaign. When we think about what are the most important issues for the candidates, there’s no doubt that he sees these policies as long term and that we have to be smart about them now. There are issues that people wouldn’t necessarily think of as a young person issue, but the mayor talks about it in terms of what kind of jobs are we going to have for young folks, what is our environment going to look like, will they be able to live in San Antonio in a place that’s affordable. All of those things are directly going to impact you all and I think it’s nice to see a mayor who’s kind of thinking about those as opposed to just ignoring it,” Sepulveda said.

Election Day for the mayoral election is May 4.