Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Councilmen jobs in jeopardy

District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro are being targeted for removal by several groups for their respective roles in the passage of the new Non-Discrimination Ordinance, which creates provisions to protect members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community from workplace discrimination.

According to Texas Public Radio, these groups include the Bexar County Conservative Coalition, the San Antonio Family Association and the Justice Foundation.

Weston Martinez, the president of the Bexar County Conservative Coalition, told news channel KENS 5 of Councilman Bernal, “The mistake was made by the public to let them in office. The council members made the mistake by voting for this ordinance. We’re correcting the matter.”

The groups are currently collecting signatures in an attempt to recall both Castro and Bernal. Bernal faces special attention from these groups as author of the updated policy.

Opponent Gina Castaneda, who is block-walking to collect the needed signatures to oust Bernal, told Texas Public Radio (TPR) that they have about half of the 6,000 signatures needed to recall Bernal. She also stated that the groups need 70,000 signatures in order to recall Castro.

They are attempting to recall the two on the grounds that they have violated their civic responsibility to represent their constituents. According to TPR, Castaneda said she and others believe Castro inappropriately signed off on the measure without receiving the proper number of signatures on the Governance Committee, which heard the proposal before it went to the full city council.

During the Aug. 14 hearing aforementioned by Castaneda, only 5 of the 11 voting members attended, largely due to a previously scheduled funeral for a fallen officer.

Castro said in response to the petition, “It’s people’s prerogative to do what they will. The voters of San Antonio elected me to represent everybody, and this city that I love will be a city where nobody is a second class citizen, a city that belongs to everyone.”

Bernal told KENS5 in regards to the recall effort, “I respect their right to do what they’re doing.”

Students at UTSA have taken notice of the efforts to recall the council members. Hannah Beck, a junior political science major and president of MOVE, a voter mobilization organization, thinks the recall is unnecessary.

“I think the idea of organizing a recall against a councilor whose only crime is supporting equal opportunity is ridiculous. Diego Bernal was elected without a challenger in 2013 because his district supports him, and I believe they will continue to throughout this childish cry for attention,” said Beck.

Ruben Verastigui, a student at Northwest Vista believes the ordinance “criminalizes people’s values.” Saying, “If a recall for certain Council members does happen, I can see the great citizens of San Antonio opening their eyes and researching the people they elect into office in the future.”

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