Nirenberg Edges Brockhouse In Runoff
June 8, 2019 - Southtown San Antonio & Far Northwest San Antonio
Article By: Jonathan Guajardo - Editor, SA Sentinel (Brockhouse Coverage ) & Lindsay Summerville - Writer, SA Sentinel (Nirenberg Coverage)
The contentious mayoral election has come to a close. Incumbent Mayor Ron Nirenberg won the position by a narrow 51.6% of the vote to Greg Brockhouse's 48.4% during a runoff election that had constituents on both sides biting their nails. When the winning results were broadcast over the speakers, the elation in the crowd at the Friendly Spot Ice House was palpable with chants of "Go, Ron, Go!" erupting from the crowd. "We did it," began Ron, as he addressed the crowd, beginning first by thanking the Brockhouse family for the hard work they put in, before stating the difference between the two campaigns. "I offered a vision for equity, for justice, for action; making sure that your mayor's office represents everyone," stated Nirenberg.
While the crowd of Ron supporters were full of energy from the win, the campaign staff was much more subdued. Along with a celebratory attitude, the overwhelming mood from staffers was one of relief. "My reaction? Thank God!" one staffer said as they recalled the last days of the campaign being full of stress and anticipation for the end of the campaign.
Senator Joaquin Castro was in attendance as well, showing his support of Nirenberg's re-election. "As someone who’s worked with him on creating opportunity for San Antonians, I know how hard he’s worked for so many different issues," he said, citing several prominent programs that Nirenberg spearheaded. "Everything from building basic infrastructure to making sure that things like Pre-K for SA and Cafe College continue to successful for the people of San Antonio. He’s taken on an ambitious agenda over the last few years and I am sure that will grow."
Meanwhile, on the far Northwest Side of San Antonio, a political buzz spread rapidly around Viola’s Ventana’s, where Greg Brockhouse held his election night watch party. Surrounded by supporters and friends, the magnetizing challenger scanned through the election results that kept rolling in throughout the night. Although behind in the polls for the entirety of the evening, his supporters still kept the faith and backed their candidate as he met with members of the press corps and greeted those gathered to celebrate with him.
Though many remained hopeful, Brockhouse himself reassured his backers that no matter what the outcome, the city would be better for having gone through the tumultuous campaign season. He also assured his proponents that his campaign sent a message to city council and the city government that there is a large part of San Antonio that feels ignored. Emphasizing that this election took a toll on his family, he also declared that if he didn’t get elected that evening, he would be done with politics for the time being due to the divisive campaign and all the mudslinging that came with it.
“If 51% of San Antonio says it’s the right direction then so be it, but 49% don’t,” stated Brockhouse a little over an hour before the results were made official. “So it’s a divided community and I’ll continue to do the best work I can and I’ll still be involved with things, but I’m done with politics.”
As the night wore on, so did the challenger. As the results kept flooding into the Bexar County election website and refresh buttons kept getting pounded by eager supporters, it became evident that the outcome was not going in Brockhouse’s favor. Eventually, the charismatic challenger approached the stage again to begin his concession speech.
“It’s a win no matter what,” said Brockhouse. “The great stuff that is ahead of us, the things we fought for…you sent a message tonight with 49+% of your vote, the message was sent tonight that we can do better in city hall. That the gaps between what neighborhoods and city hall feel, what they want, what they think is the biggest priorities in our city, there’s something missing there if half of our city says ‘I don’t agree with that. We can do better.’ So I hope that Ron takes that message tonight and finds a way.”
Brockhouse’s message at the end of the night was one of both exhaustion and hope for unity. It was clear that the campaign had taken a toll on the enthusiastic challenger. What had begun as a relatively light race ended with one of the most intense runoffs the city has witnessed in recent years. “The fairness needs to return to our politics,” said Brockhouse. “We don’t need to go that dark again. I hope that this never happens again for any family because we went through hell, and we kept standing tall and we kept talking. I didn’t go to that place and I’m proud of that, because that’s not the person that I am.”
After the night had run its course, many supporters meandered about the prominent Northwest Side establishment, commiserating with each other and talking about why they felt the election took a turn towards Nirenberg. Many blamed the mainstream San Antonio media for the outcome, particularly in regards to what they felt was a blatant endorsement of the incumbent mayor. “Character assassination to win a race is not acceptable,” stated Patti Garcia, who felt that news media outlets should not be endorsing any candidate, but rather presenting straight facts to their readers and viewers. “We do not allow the media to endorse. Radio and TV stations do not endorse candidates. They do that as part of their licensing to have equal time and I think we need to have that happen with the newspapers as well.”
Brockhouse touched on this point earlier in his watch party as well when he stated that the media needs to encourage potential candidates to run for office and not discourage action by turning campaigns negative. “We shouldn’t be discouraging people getting into the process and getting involved. And this type of campaign discourages public involvement. It’s very divisive,” said Brockhouse. He also addressed what he perceived as a lack of fairness in media coverage mainly due to biased reports by outlets such as the Express-News and even citizen journalist sites such as the Rivard Report. “As for a divisive campaign, you know look, I mean I think the Express-News, with all due respect to any Express-News, that piece of paper is a rag,” said Brockhouse. “So I think for the most part, nobody believes in what they’re saying. When you write 40+ hit-pieces on somebody, I think it’s pretty obvious who you’re in the can for.”
NIRENBERG ELECTION NIGHT PHOTO GALLERY
Photos by William Timmerman - Writer, SA Sentinel.