District 5 candidate Teri Castillo, a teacher and community organizer, emerged as the clear front-runner in the wide-open West Side City Council race Saturday night, securing her spot in the June 5 run-off.
Castillo captured 30.7% of the vote (2,073 votes), and will face Rudy Lopez, former civilian employee with the police department, who finished second with 14.7% (991 votes). Anthony Gres, owner of a fresh produce processing business, and Norberto “Geremy” Landin, vice president of operations for a medical clinic, tied for third place with 11.2% (754 votes each).
Castillo, 29, was the most progressive candidate in the 11-candidate field, and the only one to explicitly endorse the controversial Proposition B police reform measure. She garnered an impressive list of official endorsements, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Texas Organizing Project, Stonewall Democrats, the Democratic Socialists of America, several local unions, including the Communications Workers of America. Her campaign included a strong social media presence, commensurate with other progressive candidates like Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, who is running for the District 2 council seat.
“Folks are feeling the economic pressure of increasing property taxes and predatory real estate practices,” Castillo told the Heron at her campaign watch party at JJ’s Tavern on Guadalupe. She said “neighborhood stabilization” was among the most important issues facing residents in the district, residents told her and her campaign.
The District 5 seat is being vacated by eight-year Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales, who is terming out.
Lopez, 51, is a lifelong District 5 resident, and has 25 years of experience working with neighborhood associations.
“People in District 5 worry about public safety,” Lopez told the Heron at his campaign’s watch party at the Arizona Cafe on South General McMullen Drive. “We all have one thing in common: We want to serve our communities.”
Regardless of the outcome, he said, “we need to bring all our stakeholders into the solution.”
Landín, 25, was the youngest candidate in the race. He earned the endorsement of the San Antonio Express-News, and out-fundraised his other 10 competitors. He pointed to the fact that Proposition B was the most divisive issue on the ballot in this election, and Castillo will be facing an opponent that opposes the measure.
“Whether you agree with or don’t agree with SAPOA or Fix SAPD, you should be able to meet with both, because this is a nonpartisan role,” he told the Heron at his campaign’s watch event at El Luchador on Roosevelt Avenue. “It’s an opportunity to get a better gauge on who’s who in the community. And chances are you’ll have constituents from both conversations.”
For Gres, he fell short in his second attempt at running for the District 5 seat.
“It’s for the district,” Gres said Saturday night. “It’s always been about the district.”
In 2013, Gonzales forced two-term incumbent David Medina into a runoff for the seat, building off a solid early voting turnout to narrowly win it. She’s since won re-election three times with solid majorities.
Gonzales has been instrumental in directing development money into the district during her time in office. Her last term was characterized by the health and economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, which hit low-income District 5 households especially hard, and a controversial decision by San Antonio Housing Authority to “self-develop” the Alazan Courts without relocating residents, which Gonzales opposed.
“I do know that whoever proceeds me will care about the community as much as I do,” Gonzales said during remarks at an election night watch party at Jaime’s Place.
She told the Heron that a focus on community health, addressing inequalities in broadband access, and supporting small business development will be among the most pressing issues facing her successor.
“We are a community of small businesses,” Gonzales said. “We have a lot of things in motion, we just have to keep it going.”
Results from the election can be viewed here.