Jan 11, 2024 - News

San Antonio Councilmember Marc Whyte faces censure vote after DWI arrest

Photo illustration of the San Antonio city hall with lines radiating from it.

Photo Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios. Photo: Courtesy of the City of San Antonio

Councilmember Marc Whyte now faces a possible reprimand from his colleagues, nearly two weeks after he was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated.

Driving the news: Mayor Ron Nirenberg removed Whyte from his committee assignments until further notice or "until more details of the incident are known," per a Thursday memo Nirenberg sent to the City Council.

  • The mayor also called a special council meeting for 11am Sunday to consider censuring Whyte.

How it works: A censure is largely symbolic, offering a way for council members to officially condemn a colleague's actions.

  • The council issued an official censure against former District 1 Councilmember Mario Bravo in November 2022, after an investigation found he violated an anti-harassment policy when he verbally berated then-Councilmember Ana Sandoval before a budget meeting.

Catch up fast: Whyte was arrested on Dec. 29 for allegedly driving while intoxicated, a misdemeanor.

  • In a prior statement, he apologized and took responsibility for his actions. He said he did not feel intoxicated but should not have driven that night.

Plus: San Antonio police on Thursday, after Nirenberg's memo went out, released body camera footage of Whyte's arrest. It shows a largely calm and polite Whyte responding to an officer's questions and performing sobriety tests.

  • In the video, the officer says he pulled Whyte over for going 80 miles per hour in a 65 mph zone and changing lanes without a signal.
  • Throughout the questioning, Whyte changes his response for how many drinks he's had, eventually saying he had three drinks.
  • Whyte insists he is sober, and tells officers he returned from Australia that day, after a 15 1/2-hour flight.

Context: Whyte was elected to represent District 10 on the Northeast Side in May. His predecessor, Clayton Perry, decided not to seek reelection to the seat after he was charged with driving while intoxicated and failing to stop in a hit-and-run in the fall of 2022.

  • Nirenberg also stripped Perry of his committee assignments at the time and, within a week, the council planned to ask Perry to resign.
  • Members backtracked on the call for Perry's resignation but issued a vote of no confidence in him. Perry also took a brief sabbatical from the council.
  • Perry received one year of probation after he pleaded no contest to the charges.

Details: Whyte sat on the audit, the economic and workforce development, and the public safety committees.

What they're saying: Whyte tells Axios it's up to his council colleagues whether he should be censured but that he takes full responsibility for his actions.

  • He says he accepts Nirenberg's decision to remove him from his committee positions but looks forward to being reinstated "very soon."
  • "Committee suspension, however, will have no effect on the work I do for District 10," Whyte tells Axios. "Nothing gets voted on and passed without it coming to the entire City Council, where I will be a loud voice that continues to advocate for public safety, better infrastructure and better economic opportunities for our citizens and small businesses."

What's next: An arraignment in Whyte's case is set for Jan. 30.


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