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Filing for City Council races opened Wednesday morning. Here are some of the early candidates.

San Antonio Express News logo San Antonio Express News 1/18/2023 By Megan Rodriguez, Staff writer

District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval’s decision to step down this month took attention away from embattled council members Mario Bravo and Clayton Perry, who have both faced no confidence votes in recent months.

Every seat on City Council is up for election May 6, but Sandoval’s announcement this week means the race in her West Side district will be wide open. She is stepping down Jan. 29 for a new University Health job to tend to family matters.

Candidate filing opened Wednesday, and residents have until Feb. 17 to get their names on the ballot.

With the May 6 election fast approaching, the mayor and council can appoint an interim District 7 council representative or leave the seat open until someone is elected in May, according to City Attorney Andy Segovia.

Marina Alderete Gavito, 41, was one of the candidates who flocked to City Hall on Wednesday. She declared her candidacy for Sandoval’s seat.

Gavito is the executive director of SA Digital Connects, a nonprofit looking to expand internet access in San Antonio’s lower-income neighborhoods.

“Being a public servant has always been a passion of mine,” Gavito said. “With the recent announcement that this is an open seat, I had to activate quickly.”

On With District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval stepping down early, potential candidates are lining up

Her father is former District 7 Councilman Joe Alderete, a one-time City Council ally of Mayor Henry Cisneros in the 1980s. Her mother, Chris Alderete, is former chairwoman of Port San Antonio’s board of directors. Gavito said she looks forward to carrying on her family’s tradition of public service.

Gavito isn’t the only contender in District 7.

Dan Rossiter, an assistant program manager at Southwest Research Institute, plans to seek the interim position and is running for the vacant seat come May.

He was the first person to file Wednesday morning.

It’s his first time running for public office, but he said he’s thought about the possibility for years. Rossiter, 32, has been president of the Thunderbird Hills Neighborhood Association for four years.

Rossiter had served on the Brooks Development Authority’s board of directors for two years but stepped down Tuesday to run. He was a founding member of the city’s Housing Commission’s Renters Solutions Subcommittee, which helps create policies regarding fair rental practices.

“The district really needs someone who can jump in — is familiar with the city departments and everything that goes into effective management of the district,” Rossiter said.

Longtime civil rights activist Rosie Castro plans to seek the interim position but does not intend to run for the seat in May. Castro is the mother of twin brothers U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro and former Mayor Julián Castro.

More races to watch

Eyes are also on races in Districts 1 and 10.

City Council voted Nov. 10 to censure Bravo, who represents District 1, after he berated Sandoval near the council dais for not supporting him on a CPS Energy-related vote.

Bravo drew two challengers — educational consultant Sukh Kaur and businessman Jeremy Roberts — within weeks of his tirade against Sandoval on Sept. 15.

Roberto Rios Ortega, 26, also plans to run for the seat but said that the tension between Bravo and Sandoval did not play a role in his decision. Ortega is an outreach specialist for the telemedicine company Teladoc Health.

Even so, Bravo said he is “very confident” about running on his record.

The incumbent could also take some heat from business owners in his district — which includes the downtown area and parts of the North Side — who are frustrated by extensive construction projects that have been hurting sales. Though Bravo said he inherited some messy projects, he noted that he has worked to alleviate the problems, including pushing the city to spend more than $2 million to help businesses in construction-hit areas.

“We’re gonna run on a record,” Bravo said. “I have made it a point of being extremely accessible as a council member, of listening to both sides, of having a balanced approach and being the voice for the community.

Despite the controversy over his outburst at Sandoval, the councilman has garnered a fair amount of fundraising support. Bravo raised $54,615 from July through December 2022, according to his most recent campaign finance report. His campaign fund $63,239 on hand.

Almost 90 percent of Bravo’s contributions came in December.

In District 10 on the Northeast Side, Councilman Clayton Perry may face challengers if he decides to run for re-election despite pending criminal charges.

Perry, 67, is charged with drunken driving and speeding away from the scene of a car crash he allegedly caused on the night of Nov. 6. Last week, he abruptly returned to City Hall but would not say if he intends to run, though the timing of his return has led many to believe that he will.

Perry raised $1,500 from two donors during August and September, according to his report. Still, he ended the reporting period with $62,147 cash on hand.

Pauline A. Rubio, a business professor at Palo Alto College, is considering running in District 10 this spring. She was one of three shortlisted applicants interviewed by City Council in November to fill in temporarily for Perry. Council ultimately selected former Councilman Mike Gallagher.

Marc Whyte, a business law attorney who ran unsuccessfully in the 2018 Republican primary for Texas House District 121, said he is thinking about running if Perry does not.

Ezra Johnson — an energy attorney, former administrative law judge and one-time VIA Metropolitan Transit trustee — is also thinking about running for District 10.

Perry defeated Johnson in 2021 when the councilman sought his third term. In 2017, when the District 10 seat was open, Johnson forced Perry into a runoff but lost.

Johnson applied to fill Perry’s seat temporarily, but he did not make the shortlist.

When he applied for the interim position, he did not plan to run for the seat in May. But Johnson said Wednesday that he is rethinking that decision after “strong support and encouragement” to run.

Lon Jett IV, 48, a retired Army veteran and vice president of the Citizens on Alert Sierra North neighborhood association, also is thinking about it. He was one of 10 candidates for the open seat in 2017.

Perry did not respond to a request for comment.

Several incumbents staked a claim on their seats early Wednesday, including District 2 Councilman Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, District 5 Councilwoman Teri Castillo and District 6 Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Havrda.

District 2 elections tend to be contentious, and McKee-Rodriguez likely will have multiple challengers. The councilman recently tweeted about open records requests he received that indicate someone is doing opposition research into him.

Already, Carla Walker, 64, filed to run against McKee-Rodriguez. Walker, a lifelong resident of District 2, is retired. She has past volunteer experience on the city’s MLK Commission.

Staff writers Greg Jefferson and Molly Smith contributed to this report.


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