With a month and a half to go until the city elections, candidates are defining themselves in different ways. For District 8 candidate Ron Nirenberg, the associate general manager of jazz station KRTU, that means attacking the issues head on.
"At the end of the day, this council race should be about how can we help our community, and how can we do the right thing. It doesn't have to be after the election," said Nirenberg.
On Friday, Nirenberg sent an email (see text at bottom of story) to District 8 residents in Mockingbird Hill about an issue brought up during a candidate debate in February.
Xavier Urrutia, director of the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department, confirmed that Nirenberg emailed him about the pond at Denman Estate Park. Capped wells have kept water levels at the pond low for years and Urrutia said that Nirenberg approached him about the subject.
Nirenberg's Friday evening email updated residents on the pond. He said in the email that he had contacted the University of the Incarnate Word, and Parks and Recreation about the water level and that the pond had now been refilled as a temporary solution.
"It would be the same as if any constituent called," said Urrutia of Nirenberg's efforts.
City Clerk Leticia Vacek said there is no policy prohibiting a candidate seeking office from trying to resolve an issue and that the city had received a number of other calls about the pond at Denman Estate Park as well.
Robert Manns, the president of the Mockingbird Hill Neighborhood Association, which brought the issue to Nirenberg’s attention, said Nirenberg’s actions seemed to go "above and beyond the call of duty."
Nirenberg admitted the actions could be viewed by his opponents or others as a standard political ploy to gain votes.
"Unfortunately, it is a campaign, so anything that a candidate would do could be construed as politics," he said. "The reason why I'm running for council is so that I can help my community, help my neighbors, and so this is just - I'm in a position to do that with these different issues and so I did."
On Monday he sent a letter to Mayor Julián Castro and City Manager Sheryl Sculley to ask them for "regular, comprehensive public updates" on the new Pre-K 4 SA program.
"As with any effort that utilizes our tax dollars, I believe that accountability and transparency are paramount," Nirenberg said in his letter. "Whether one voted for Pre-K 4 SA or against it, we are all now invested in its success and must work towards its effectiveness.
Nirenberg is the only candidate among the three vying for the seat in District 8 to vote for the measure. Rolando Briones and Mike Kueber both voted against it.
"You know, whether you voted for it or against it is kind of moot at this point," Nirenberg said. "It's here, and so we've got to figure out how to make it work."
Ron Nirenberg's letter to Mockingbird Hill residents:
Dear Mockingbird Hill neighbors: Thank you again for the lively debate at the Klines' home. I am writing to update you on the status of the Denman Estate Park pond. After talking with UIW and SA Parks and Rec Department about the water level issue over the last several weeks, SAPAR has been working to acquire water from SAWS to refill the pond. As of today, they have been successful and are refilling it. This should be complete sometime tomorrow. The current refilling is a temporary solution, and SAPAR is now exploring a long term solution to the issue, considering the projected drought conditions. All thanks should be directed to Xavier Urrutia, SAPAR Director, who was immediately attentive to the issue when we spoke. If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to ask. See you around the neighborhood... Best wishes,Ron