Through a series of meetings and interviews, neighborhood leaders in the city's North Side District 10 have come to a conclusion on who they want to replace outgoing Councilman Carlton Soules.
Soules, in his second term on the city council, will step down Thursday to focus on his campaign for Bexar County judge in the Republican primaries.
Monday night, all 38 of the neighborhood association leaders who were present cast their ballot for retired Air Force Col. Mike Gallagher. The 66 year old is experienced in neighborhood association leadership and has also held such positions like San Antonio Board of Adjustment chair, which he holds currently.
The neighborhood leaders are a part of the Northeast Neighborhood Alliance, which touts itself as the most active collection of neighborhood associations in the city.
The next order of business is to forward their recommendation to the city council, which will begin its own interviews on Wednesday with a final selection to be made at Thursday's A session meeting.
It's clear the neighborhood association wants someone to fill the seat for the next four months but that it would be good for the candidate to run in the May special election -- Gallagher said he would run.
"The vote tonight is what's really pushing me to do that, it really is, because I think one of the things that needs to be mentioned and that is continuity," Gallagher said. "We don't want to have somebody in office just for a couple of months and then they're gone, so this is the way to solve that problem."
Five of the six candidates who signed up to fill the vacant council seat showed up and spoke at the neighborhood forum Monday at the Northeast Service Center. Joe Martin was the only absent candidate.
All of the candidates got the chance to tell residents about their experience and what they think of certain projects like the streetcar. Nearly all candidates were against it, and their opposition summoned wild applause of the audience. M. Katherine Scheidel was the only candidate who said she supported the streetcar, but also said she did not support the current funding mechanisms for it.
Feather Ridge Neighborhood leader Connie Marszalek said she liked all the candidates, but agreed that Gallagher is the most qualified and cast her ballot for him. Still, she didn't discount the other contenders like the graphic designer with the pink hairdo, 41-year-old Danielle Cunningham.
"Actually, to be honest with you, I think all of them," she said as she held her ballot in her hand Monday. "I don't know that all of them are truly qualified, but all of them have the right idea. Danielle brought a point up, though, because District 10 is made up of a demographic that's maybe 45 and older. But there's some new blood coming in? What are we doing for them. How are we attracting the newer, the younger couples, the younger people and how are we fixing District 10 for the future, not for the right now?"
Scheidel, a former service woman, said after the forum was over that she knew Gallagher would get the recommendation.
"I would have been surprised if he didn't," she said. She still has another chance to "wow" the city council on Wednesday.
Marszalek said she thinks she'll see Scheidel again soon in a public capacity no matter what.
"I don't know how I will lend my service to the community but I may run again," Scheidel said. "Who knows, there's just so much opportunity out there."
About 150 people showed up to hear the candidates speak. John Clamp, a former District 10 councilman, is now the president of the alliance.
"We care. I mean, these neighborhood association leaders like one on one with their neighborhood leaders, which is their councilman. It's their first touch of government and this is how we get things done. We work hard, they participate, they serve on boards and commissions, it's all about the neighborhoods," Clamp said.
Soules said he thinks the district will be well served by Gallagher, a man he said helped him get involved in the district.
"I think he's a good logical choice," Soules said. "I appreciate the other candidates coming out, and I was sincere. This is a district where we want their involvement. There's lots of opportunities to bring people up that want to volunteer."
The successful turnout of district residents brought different views, but they all beamed with pride for the involvement they have in their community.