May 25, 2023 - Election

San Antonio City Council District 1 runoff election: What to know

Illustration of a pattern of shapes and checkmarks.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Voters in District 1, across the North Side and downtown, will soon choose whether they want to be represented on the City Council by incumbent Mario Bravo or political newcomer Sukh Kaur, an education consultant.

  • Kaur says she can offer change and improve relationships to get things done, but Bravo, who's seeking a second term, says that would only introduce a new learning curve.

Driving the news: Early voting in the nonpartisan election begins Tuesday and runs through June 6. Find a polling place online. Election Day is June 10.

Catch up fast: Bravo was the only City Council incumbent forced into a runoff following the May 6 election. Among all seven candidates, he came in second place with 26% of the vote to Kaur's 34%.

The big picture: Bravo has been fighting for his political future since last fall. His colleagues dealt him a censure and a vote of no confidence in November, following his public chiding of then-Councilmember Ana Sandoval over a budget disagreement.

  • An independent investigator found Bravo violated workplace violence policy for his treatment of his former romantic partner.

What they're saying: Kaur tells Axios her leadership experience as the founder and CEO of an education consulting company makes her a better fit for the job. "When you come in with the wrong temperament and the wrong attitude, it's hard to repair relationships," Kaur says. "Nothing gets done if you can't build coalitions."

  • Bravo says he's been able to work with colleagues following his outburst last fall.
  • "That was a bad day for me and I regret what I said," Bravo tells Axios. "It was tough to learn that lesson in public, but I did learn a big lesson."

Between the lines: After the May 6 election, Bravo tells Axios, he hired the campaign staff who previously worked for third-place candidate Jeremy Roberts. His team now includes experienced local consultants Laura Barberena and Bert SantibaƱez.

Zoom in: Bravo and Kaur have some similar policy views but are focused in different areas.

Bravo has spent his first term focused on environmental and climate change mitigation policies, and he has worked with CPS Energy on accountability and transparency measures.

  • He also tells Axios he's focused on bringing together residents and developers when they disagree over how to approach new developments in rapidly changing neighborhoods near downtown.

Kaur tells Axios she will zero in on support for small businesses and create a position in the District 1 office focused solely on engaging the community about construction.

  • Bravo has also faced criticism for the ongoing District 1 road project on North St. Mary's Street, which is taking longer than planned because of what city officials have described as unforeseen utility issues.

Public safety: Bravo has voted with progressive council members on police funding and accountability issues, often arguing the city should spend to address root causes of crime rather than continue to increase the police budget.

  • Kaur hasn't committed to a stance on whether the police force should grow, but she would like to address public safety through city departments outside the police, she tells Axios.

What's next: Both candidates are knocking on doors to persuade voters who may not have supported either of them the first time around.

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