March 3, 2023 7:00am

Support for the Justice Charter? Raises for council members? And what about the airport?

With the second month of 2023 coming to an end, we asked our members whether they plan to vote for the so-called Justice Charter, whether they support raises for council members and how they feel about San Antonio International Airport.

Photo of Richard Webner
San Antonio, TX Correspondent

When San Antonio voters go to the polls on May 6 to decide who will be the next mayor and who will sit in the City Council, they will also vote on the so-called Justice Charter, a city charter amendment promoted by the social justice group Act 4 SA seeking to decriminalize marijuana and abortion and to reform the police by banning no-knock warrants and chokeholds.

With the election hardly more than two months away, we wondered whether our members planned to vote for or against the amendment.

It turns out that our membership is quite divided on the issue.

Only 43 percent of respondents to our monthly poll of San Antonio leaders said they would vote in favor of the amendment, while 48 percent planned to vote against it. About 10 percent of respondents said they weren’t sure.

No matter how much support it has, the future of the Justice Charter is uncertain. The San Antonio Express-News reported last month that it might not make the ballot after all – even after the amendment's supporters collected enough valid signatures – because three city councilmen left the dais before City Council voted to certify it for the ballot.

In a Feb. 20 court filing, the pro-life group Texas Alliance for Life made that argument in challenging the amendment. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is supporting the group in court, the Express-News writes.

Last month, we asked our members whether they expected Mayor Ron Nirenberg to prevail in his bid for a fourth term. They overwhelmingly said they did, with 86 percent saying they foresaw another term for him.

A pay raise for City Council?

In January, Ana Sandoval stepped down from her seat representing District 7 on San Antonio's City Council to take a job at University Health. She told reporters that her difficulty in affording childcare for her daughter, Isadora, who was born in June, was among the reasons for her decision to step down.

"While serving has been absolutely fulfilling, it is time for me to direct my attention to more personal matters, including my family," Sandoval in a video to constituents posted on Jan. 17. "As a new mother, I believe that it is my responsibility to put the needs of my family first. I've made the very difficult decision that I simply cannot do both right now."

The Express-News reported that Sandoval had emptied her savings by January and could no longer afford in-home care for her daughter with her salary of slightly less than $46,000 a year.

In a statement, Mayor Nirenberg signaled that he supported giving elected city officials, saying that "the mayor and council deserve a fair wage because serving on the council requires long hours and hard work."

Now that the issue has come to our fore, we asked our members whether they would support giving the mayor and council members a raise. Most respondents said that they did.

Fifty-six percent of respondents said they'd like to see council members draw higher salaries, while 33 percent said they were against it. Eleven percent said they weren't sure.

San Antonio's council members used to be paid much worse than they are now: Until May 2015, they drew only $20 for each meeting they attended, with a cap of $1,040 each year, according to the Express-News.

A brighter for San Antonio International Airport?

San Antonians have mixed feelings about their airport. In a post last year on Reddit, local residents complained about the airport's shortage of direct flights while praising it for its cleanliness and lack of crowds.

The airport typically does pretty well on JD Power's annual North American Airport Satisfaction Study; last year, it ranked ninth among large airports, scoring 802 points out of 1,000. That put it behind Dallas Love Field, ranking third with 825 points, but ahead of Austin-Bergstrom International, with 785 points.

As the city proceeds with a $2.5 billion plan to grow the airport with a new terminal, we wondered how our members feel about San Antonio International.

Our members don't rank the airport well, it seems.

Fifty-nine percent of our respondents said they consider the airport to be worse than those of most cities, while 28 percent said it was about average and only 13 percent thought it was an above-average airport.

When it comes to the new terminal – which under the current plans will be larger than the existing two ones put together, with up to 17 gates, roomy waiting areas and a landscaped courtyard – our readers had positive feelings.

Sixty-six percent of respondents said they expected the new terminal to put the airport on the right track, while 13 percent said they did not and 22 percent said they weren't sure.

The airport is set to receive another investment: Last month, it was revealed that the Federal Aviation Administration would grant the airport $20 million to go toward a new ground load facility that is expected to make tickets for flights more affordable, according to the San Antonio Report.

If you're flying out of town for spring break, here's to hoping that your travel experience is less chaotic than it would have been during the December holidays. We'll be back with another poll at the end of March.

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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