Whether Mayor Julián Castro's Pre-K 4 SA early education initiative will pass or be voted down is too close to call at this point in early voting, but with all the debate over the issue, Castro doesn't seem surprised.
"I always assume that any election is going to be a close election," said Castro Monday at the steps of the Bexar County Courthouse. "I want folks to know Pre-K 4 SA is supported by our seven biggest Chambers of Commerce, by all seven living former mayors, by our biggest employers. There's a reason for that."
Castro said the program is a well-thought-out plan that will include thousands of the city's four-year-old population. He said despite income level, any family that wants to participate can.
Castro deflects opposition
"I don't see a deep opposition out there," said Castro. "What I see are many of the folks who usually oppose anything the city government does that are not supporting this."
Castro and other elected, and former elected, leaders spoke to reporters and community members Monday as early voting got underway. Bexar County Judge, and former mayor, Nelson Wolff supports the Pre-K 4 SA initiative.
Wolff spent his time as mayor battling juvenile issues, and said the jail population in Bexar County says it all; 4,000 prisoners who slipped through the cracks, "and almost all of them did not acquire a high school education," said Wolff. "So we see the bad side over at this courthouse."
Mayor Ed Garza, who is now a San Antonio ISD board member, said critics who believe the city should not be involved in education haven't stepped inside a classroom lately.
"We cannot educate our students alone as school districts," said Garza. "We must create powerful partnerships if we want to change the perception that San Antonio is a low-educated community. This initiative not only takes a step to transform that perception, but this is a bold proactive investment in the future of our city."
Mayor Lila Cockrell said all seven former living mayors don't always agree on all the issues.
"We're all independent thinkers," Cockrell said. "Now why does it happen that we all feel so strongly about this issue? We're not just thinking about the past - where San Antonio has come from. We're thinking about San Antonio's future. We're concerned about those dropout rates."
Cockrell said this is one issue they can all get behind for the sake of San Antonio's future.