Mar 3, 2023 - Politics

Here's how much Mayor Ron Nirenberg traveled

Photo illustration of San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg with lines radiating from him.

Photo Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios. Photo: Rick Kern/Getty Images

Mayor Ron Nirenberg took 16 trips outside San Antonio last year, including three trips abroad, to meet with government and business leaders, according to travel records obtained by Axios.

  • Seven of the trips were to Washington, D.C.

Why it matters: The mayor's travel can boost the city's profile. It also attracted federal grants, per travel records.

  • The trips also offer a window into the relationships Nirenberg has worked to cultivate.

Between the lines: Appearances at summits and conferences can elevate the mayor's political and personal brand. That could be helpful if he seeks higher office or cabinet appointments, as his predecessors have, after his time in the mayor's office is up.

Nirenberg's 2022 trips included:

  • Los Angeles: At Summit of the Americas, Nirenberg spoke on a panel about migrants and leveraging their economic contributions on the local level.
  • Mexico City: Nirenberg met with U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar to discuss border issues. He also attended the U.S. embassy's Fourth of July celebration, among other meetings.
  • Washington, D.C.: On one of these trips, Nirenberg and city manager Erik Walsh met with U.S. Department of Justice and White House staff, including White House infrastructure coordinator Mitch Landrieu. Nirenberg also met with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
  • Japan: Nirenberg met with Toyota officials and other Japanese business leaders. He also met with "several potential prospects for San Antonio business relationships," per city records. Toyota has a manufacturing plant on San Antonio's South Side.
  • India: Nirenberg met with Indian companies operating in San Antonio, including Indo-MIM and Tata Consultancy Services. Councilmembers Melissa Cabello Havrda and Manny Pelaez were also on the trip.

What they're saying: "As mayor of San Antonio, my job includes serving as one of the city’s chief negotiators in bringing home federal and state aid," Nirenberg tells Axios.

  • International economic partnerships don't just happen on their own, he said
  • "Building relationships at the person-to-person level with visits strengthens cultural and economic ties," Nirenberg added.
  • In Japan, Nirenberg also met with Okayasu Rubber, which expanded to San Antonio with 100 jobs.

By the numbers: A total of 10 trips funded through the mayor's office cost $20,772.21, expense reports show.

  • Three trips were funded outside the mayor's office, per Nirenberg's spokesperson.
  • Nirenberg's campaign paid for a visit to the White House for the Easter Egg Roll. Greater:SATX covered the cost of his trip to Japan. The city's Economic Development Department funded his travel to India.
  • Two trips to Austin and one to Uvalde were not included in the expense reports.

The intrigue: Nirenberg's spending on food while traveling was modest, expense reports from the mayor's office show. In Louisville, Kentucky, he spent $22.69 at Einstein Bros. Bagels for lunch for two.

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