Challenging the incumbent to the East Side city council seat are four opponents who say they want to address the issues facing District 2: Antonio Diaz, Hector Medina, and Norris Tyrone Darden.
Darden praises current Councilwoman Ivy Taylor for the job she’s done, but is careful in using words that give her too much credit. The long-time resident of the district said Taylor, an outsider who is not originally from San Antonio, is not addressing what really needs to be addressed.
"I want so many more things done for the youth," he said, "whether it be some employment, workforce development, social things, whether it be entertainment district or safe zone where they can actually go hang out."
Darden, a 33-year-old father of six attended Texas State University (then Southwest Texas) on a full athletic scholarship. He received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and master’s degree in special education.
Until recently, Darden worked at the George Gervin Academy, but decided to step down from his position to focus on his campaign.
He said he has an idea of how to approach people about what they want in a council representative on their side of town.
"Maybe we need to have more workshops with our law enforcement, more community meetings with our law enforcement," he said. "We probably shouldn't just see them with sirens on. We should see them at the bar-b-q. Maybe we should see them at the family reunions, not serving warrants, but just dropping in, making sure everything's OK."
San Antonio is the only city in the nation to receive both the Promise Neighborhood and Choice Neighborhood grants, which tackle education and housing needs in communities where revitalization is needed. The millions of federal dollars that will be coming to the city happened on Taylor’s clock.
However, Darden said much of the work has done little to change people’s perception of the east side.
"Crime is always going to be an issue as long as our young people are dying, as long as our seniors aren't feeling safe, as long as a community we're looked upon, whether it's right or wrong, as the bad side of town," he said.
Darden said he never got into trouble until after college, when he allowed himself to finally celebrate his accomplishments. It led to a DWI arrest about six years ago.
"[I’m] not a criminal. I have committed crimes," he said. "I'm not a bad person, but I've been bad. Again, to me, it's all about being honest. This community is filled with people who just want a second chance. Some people don't even want a second chance; they want a first chance and an opportunity."
Darden wants to get the first chance to sit on the dais of the city council to implement the changes he believes will impact the East Side.
Councilwoman Ivy Taylor, who is seeking her third term on the city council, will soon talk more about her bid for the office.