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Questionnaire by GSACC to Ray Lopez District 6

 

 

The Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce 2009 City Council and Mayoral Candidates

 

Questionnaire

 

Ray Lopez

District 6

 

 

1) Economic Development, Job Creation and Retention: How would you

encourage job creation and retention?

Encourage and expand the partnerships between the business and education

communities at a city and regional level.

Please describe the model/tools and/or incentives you would support to boost

economic development in San Antonio.

Locally, the City South model is worthy of emulation. These initiatives are

not district issues, but community and regional issues and we need to look at

Port San Antonio in the same way. Its proximity to San Antonio’s west and

southwest quadrant is a unique advantage. Working with organizations like

the Westside Development Corporation can take the area assets and leverage

them to support significant economic development.

What are your thoughts on additional organized labor entering the San

Antonio region?

There is no question that the city’s employees deserve the best wage and

benefit package that the city can afford. Employee input and “partnering” is

vital to creating a partner environment. Additional organized labor is not the

answer.

2) Emergency Services: Do you believe that the City of San Antonio provides

adequate Police and Fire protection and other emergency services for its

citizens? Please explain. If additional personnel are required, what funds will

be used to pay for service enhancements?

I believe we find ourselves accepting our current state of adequate, which is

NOT were we should be positioned. We need to aggressively move to

become the Safest Large City in America. To move toward that goal, there

are two fundamental elements that need to be embraced: Recruiting and

Retaining the best and brightest.

It has been my experience while on the NISD Board (1990-99) that you

recruit with an attractive wage scale and retain with a benefits package. The

city has made a commitment to hire significant numbers of police and fire

personnel and the funding is being driven by the General Budget. I support

the approach to, not only “catch up”, but to “get ahead”. As a member of

the SA Crime Commission, I supported a 1/8 cent sales tax to support the

Crime Control and Prevention District (CCPD) which did not pass. The Crime

Commission recommended that the critical elements of the CCPD plan be

funded in the General Budget because of their criticality.

3) Education: What role should local government have on education and

workforce issues?

The education and business community are the catalyst to have a thriving

community. The role of local government is to facilitate programs like Raise

Your Hand San Antonio, PK-16+ and Raising The Bar. While serving on the

board of Region 20 Education Service Center, I have worked to provide that

level of support to the schools and will bring that leadership with the city.

How can the City be involved in student mentoring and dropout prevention

programs?

Continuing and improving the programs mentioned above is a good start. For

the long term, we must expand our Early Childhood Programs like Head Start.

The direct relationship between the dropout rates of Head Start vs. non Head

Start students in Title 1 schools is startling and validates the program impact.

If additional monetary resources are being recommended, from where will

they come?

Much of the additional funding comes from Federal and State sources in

conjunction with public/private support. Aggressive lobbying of these funds

is essential.

4) Water: What do you think about the status of water with regard to the current

drought?

The drought will end and the water issue will continue. Alternate water

sources must be addressed at a regional level.

What is your plan to improve the quantity and quality of water for our City

and region?

With the recent bond package, a significant amount of funding has been

directed to drainage and flood control. The next steps include capture flood

waters, “retain and recycle” and desalination. The approach much be crafted

by subject matter experts and will require multijurisdictional coordination.

How will your proposal(s) be funded?

Federal and State money need to be appropriated, but it will require local

funding to fully deploy, such as bonds.

5) Transportation: What transportation projects would you recommend and

support in order to alleviate our traffic congestion issues?

In the short term, light synchronization is a critical component as well

incentives to businesses who implement carpooling and work-at-home

programs. In the long term, mass transit options must be considered. A

good step forward has been the “accordion” bus route between the Medical

Center and Downtown. This is also a regional problem and must have

regional input.

The 1604 and 281 issue will be tied up for an extended period of time and

has “other” traffic issues associated to it (i.e., 1604 between SH 16 and SH

151). These projects should be uncoupled and a review of other similar

situations must occur.

How would your proposed projects be funded?

These projects are already funded. Additional funding should be addressed

with the Federal stimulus dollars for “shovel ready” projects.

Please share your thoughts on the recommendations of the San Antonio

Bexar County Transportation Task Force.

Clearly the recommendations address a very vital long and short term

roadmap for our transportation strategy. I support the recommendations and

fully expect to take a leadership role in its evolution. Of particular interest to

me will be the realignment of agencies to insure that the City and County

retain oversight and authority of our future.

6) Energy: Do you believe our municipally owned electric utility has done a good

job in diversifying our energy mix, including coal, natural gas, nuclear power,

wind and solar? Please share your thoughts on the importance of each of

these sources.

I am convinced that they are doing an exemplary job, particularly when

considering that many of the decisions that have led to our current situation

were made a couple of decades ago. We must continue that forward thinking

approach.

The issue of the day, as it deals with energy will be what is included in the

“mix” and how expensive is the mix that we are considering. We must not

make decision based of fear, uncertainly and doubt but fact based.

Coal is here and it is cheap, but not environmentally or health friendly (could

be cleaner). Natural gas, wind and solar are clearly options, but have issues

of sustainability and availability. The elephant in the room is Nuclear….. and

it is not without issues, many of which could be catastrophic (nuclear waste).

Cost considerations are also a major concern.

In all cases, the advent of technology will play a large part of the ROI for

these approaches. I believe that we must keep our options open to as many

viable alternatives as possible, as we did a few decades ago, based on “what

was known at the time”…… Collaborate and Investigate!

7) City Budget and Finance: What are your top five budget priorities for FY 2009-

2010?

I believe that a budget is a value statement: You spend your money on the

things you value most.

EDUCATION: Work to ensure programs like Head Start and Raise Your Hand

San Antonio are adequately funded and given the oversight to be successful.

SAFETY: Work to expand neighborhood policing initiatives like the SAFFE

Officer and Safe Routes To School. I will also support expanding Senior

Services and focus on issues related to Domestic Violence.

JOBS: Work with agencies like the Westside Development Corporation to

ensure small businesses are provided the opportunity to succeed, as well as

engage the business and education community to develop a path from

school-to-work.

What is your position on increasing revenue streams for the City to address

basic city services, such as streets, drainage and other infrastructure

improvements?

Existing financing tools like bonds, block grants and other short and mid term

funding will be required to supplant the Federal Stimulus package.