SA Night Live Draws Millennial Turnout and Engages City Council Candidates

Video: NOWCastSA’s live stream of San Antonio Night Live.

April 6, 2019 - Brick at Blue Star Arts Complex (Southtown)

By: Jonathan Guajardo - Editor, San Antonio Sentinel

In such a volatile political climate, it’s rare to witness politicians cutting loose with each other in front of an audience of registered voters. Hardly ever does the political facade come down and the true personality of the candidate shine forth for all constituents to see. One such event where this kind of disclosure is encouraged, however, took place Saturday night at Brick at the Blue Star Arts Complex in trendy Southtown San Antonio. This event, entitled San Antonio Night Live, took place for the second year in a row and featured many prominent sitting city council members as well as many noteworthy challengers. Highlights of the night included District 7 City Council candidate Trevor Whitney crashing a scooter into the stage while Lil Nas X’s viral hit “Old Town Road” blasted over the audio system, and District 1 candidate Raymond Zavala leading San Antonio millennials in a heartwarming rendition of “America the Beautiful.”

The event began tamely, with attendees shuffling around building a steady buzz of excitement in the industrial all-white assembly hall. Brick, a bar most days of the week, had been transformed into a political coliseum for San Antonio’s most civically-minded youths. Twenty-somethings strolled throughout the venue, rubbing shoulders with San Antonio political mainstays, such as Manny Palaez and John Courage, while patrons ordered craft beers at the Southtown locale’s front bar before the night’s festivities began. Scattered amongst the many folding plastic seats and throngs of reporters craning to catch a glimpse of candidates, young women in bright sundresses and men in graphic t-shirts matriculated on a day which should have been rainy, but instead shone brightly with the brilliance of a generation who had come to recognize the importance of their vote in the nation’s seventh largest city.

H. Drew Galloway, Executive Director of MOVE Texas addresses crowd. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

H. Drew Galloway, Executive Director of MOVE Texas addresses crowd. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

San Antonio Night Live, the brainchild of an organization called MOVE Texas, was designed in 2017 to civically engage young people by changing the narrative of the traditional debate format into one that gives the audience more power of questioning. “We designed a candidate forum that was completely focused on the audience,” stated H. Drew Galloway, Executive Director of MOVE Texas. The organization itself was founded by UTSA students in 2013 and has since expanded to Laredo, Seguin, San Marcos, Austin, and Dallas, with a new Houston branch opening this summer. “We are an organization for young people by young people,” explains Galloway. “We register young people, we educate them on issues, and we make sure that our generation is heard from the polling booth, to city hall, to the Texas Capital.”

From the start, San Antonio Night Live appeared to accomplish its goal of engaging the boisterous millennial audience. Flashy graphics and an intro video reminiscent of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, with some added 210 flair, grabbed the attention of the many assiduous millennials in attendance. The evening’s Master of Ceremonies, Wayne Holtz, then brought the crowd to attention, captivating the group with his signature humor dotted with the occasional Cardi B-esque “okurr” throughout his introduction. He explained that there were three parts to the night’s debate: (1) a section called “Taking Sides” where the candidates would order themselves according to their stance on certain issues pertaining to their district, (2) a “Talent Show” portion where they would have to perform a hidden talent in front of the audience, and (3) a final part called “Picture of the Big Picture” where they would choose a picture which describes their vision for the city and explain their decision. At the end of each round, described the charismatic Holtz, the audience would vote on which candidate resonated best with them and the total would be tallied up at the end of the event. The candidate who received the most votes would be announced as the winner for the night and awarded with a banana trophy known as the Best of the Bunch.

Audience members react. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

Audience members react. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

An attendee snaps a photo of John Velasquez, mayoral candidate. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

An attendee snaps a photo of John Velasquez, mayoral candidate. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)


PART 1: TAKING SIDES

Taking Sides  format. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

Taking Sides format. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

Holtz opened up this first portion of the night by bringing out three members of MOVE SA to the front of the stage. From left to right, the three members held up a check mark sign, a question sign, and an X sign. The candidates were going to be directed to gather around the sign that best represents their answers to the questions being asked. Here is where everyone stood:

D1 Candidates choose “Yes.” (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

D1 Candidates choose “Yes.” (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

DISTRICT 1

Candidates In Attendance: Roberto C. Trevino (Incumbent), Lauro A. Bustamante, Brad Kessler, Oscar Magaña, Raymond Zavala, Justin Holley

QUESTION #1

In 2018, 144,000 people signed a petition to make their employers provide paid sick time to their workers because right now 354,000 workers have to make the choice between taking care of themselves and paying their bills. If elected will you fight to protect San Antonio’s paid sick time ordinance?

TOPIC: Paid Sick Leave

YES: Trevino, Bustamante, Kessler, Zavala

MAYBE: Holley

NO: Magaña

QUESTION #2

Will you fight to strengthen SA’s climate action and adaptation plan by ensuring all coal plants close by 2025, a transition to 100% carbon free electricity by 2030 and a goal of transforming San Antonio into a carbon neutral city by 2040?

TOPIC: SA Climate Plan

YES: Trevino, Bustamante, Kessler, Zavala

MAYBE: Magaña, Holley

QUESTION #3

Would you increase the maximum amount of risk mitigation funds that an individual could receive from relocations and emergency assistance from the city?

TOPIC: Risk Mitigation Funds Increase

YES: All.

QUESTION #4

In 2017, the city launched CCHIP (Center City Housing and Investment Policy), which provides subsidies and incentives to business for downtown development. Proponents say it drives economic growth. Opponents say it drives gentrification. Do you support the CCHIP?

TOPIC: Do you support the CCHIP?

YES: Trevino, Bustamante, Kessler, Holley

MAYBE: Magaña

NO: Zavala


D2 Candidates. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

D2 Candidates. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

DISTRICT 2

Candidates In Attendance: Jada Andrews-Sullivan, Salena Santibanez, Ruben Arciniega, Joseph Powell, Denise Guiterrez-Homer

QUESTION #1

Do you support reversing the sale of land adjacent to the Hays St. Bridge at 803 N. Cherry St. and commit to using this as a public space?

TOPIC: Hays St. Bridge as Public Space

YES: All.

QUESTION #2

Will you fight to strengthen SA’s climate action and adaptation plan by ensuring all coal plants close by 2025, a transition to 100% carbon free electricity by 2030 and a goal of transforming San Antonio into a carbon neutral city by 2040?

TOPIC: SA Climate Plan

YES: Sullivan, Santibanez, Arciniega, Powell

MAYBE: Guiterrez-Homer

QUESTION #3

Currently, the forthcoming cite and release is an administrative agreement between the District Attorney, the San Antonio Police Chief, and Bexar County Sheriff. Would you support a municipal ordinance creating a cite and release policy?

TOPIC: Cite and Release

YES: All.

QUESTION #4

In 2018, 144,000 people signed a petition to make their employers provide paid sick time to their workers because right now 354,000 workers have to make the choice between taking care of themselves and paying their bills. If elected will you fight to protect San Antonio’s paid sick time ordinance?

TOPIC: Paid Sick Leave

YES: Sullivan, Santibanez, Arciniega, Powell

MAYBE: Guiterrez-Homer


Rebecca Viagran representing D3. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

Rebecca Viagran representing D3. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

DISTRICT 3

Candidate In Attendance: Rebecca Viagran (Incumbent)

QUESTION #1

In 2018, 144,000 people signed a petition to make their employers provide paid sick time to their workers because right now 354,000 workers have to make the choice between taking care of themselves and paying their bills. If elected will you fight to protect San Antonio’s paid sick time ordinance?

ANSWER: Yes

QUESTION #2

Would you support CPS energy raising rates on businesses to lower the cost burden on individual customers?

ANSWER: Yes

QUESTION #3

Will you support increasing city funding for subsidized housing as 55% of renters in your district are paying more than 1/2 of their income in rent costs?

ANSWER: Yes

QUESTION #4

Currently, the forthcoming cite and release is an administrative agreement between the District Attorney, the San Antonio Police Chief, and Bexar County Sheriff. Would you support a municipal ordinance creating a cite and release policy?

ANSWER: Yes


D4 Candidates. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

D4 Candidates. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

DISTRICT 4:

Candidates: Joel Mendoza, Adriana Garcia, Genevieve Trinidad, Samantha “Sami” Sanchez

QUESTION #1

Do you support the opening of private charter schools in your district?

TOPIC: Charter Schools

NO: All.

QUESTION #2

Currently, the forthcoming cite and release is an administrative agreement between the District Attorney, the San Antonio Police Chief, and Bexar County Sheriff. Would you support a municipal ordinance creating a cite and release policy?

TOPIC: Cite and Release

YES: All.

QUESTION #3


In 2018, 144,000 people signed a petition to make their employers provide paid sick time to their workers because right now 354,000 workers have to make the choice between taking care of themselves and paying their bills. If elected will you fight to protect San Antonio’s paid sick time ordinance?

TOPIC: Paid Sick Leave

YES: Joel Mendoza, Genevieve Trinidad, Samantha “Sami” Sanchez

MAYBE: Adriana Garcia

QUESTION #4

Will you fight to strengthen SA’s climate action and adaptation plan by ensuring all coal plants close by 2025, a transition to 100% carbon free electricity by 2030 and a goal of transforming San Antonio into a carbon neutral city by 2040?

TOPIC: SA Climate Plan

YES: Joel Mendoza, Genevieve Trinidad, Samantha “Sami” Sanchez

MAYBE: Adriana Garcia


D5 Candidates Gonzales and Davila. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

D5 Candidates Gonzales and Davila. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

DISTRICT 5:

Candidates In Attendance: Shirley Gonzales (Incumbent), Jilma Davila

QUESTION #1


In 2018, 144,000 people signed a petition to make their employers provide paid sick time to their workers because right now 354,000 workers have to make the choice between taking care of themselves and paying their bills. If elected will you fight to protect San Antonio’s paid sick time ordinance?

YES: Both.

QUESTION #2

Will you keep the fence around Plaza Guadalupe?

YES: Gonzales

MAYBE: Davila

QUESTION #3

Will you fight to strengthen SA’s climate action and adaptation plan by ensuring all coal plants close by 2025, a transition to 100% carbon free electricity by 2030 and a goal of transforming San Antonio into a carbon neutral city by 2040?

YES: Both.

QUESTION #4

Currently, the forthcoming cite and release is an administrative agreement between the District Attorney, the San Antonio Police Chief, and Bexar County Sheriff. Would you support a municipal ordinance creating a cite and release policy?

YES: Both.


Havrda and Adame step up. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

Havrda and Adame step up. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

DISTRICT 6:

Candidates In Attendance: Melissa Cabello Havrda, Mario Adame

QUESTION #1


In 2018, 144,000 people signed a petition to make their employers provide paid sick time to their workers because right now 354,000 workers have to make the choice between taking care of themselves and paying their bills. If elected will you fight to protect San Antonio’s paid sick time ordinance?

YES: Both.

QUESTION #2

Do you support the opening of private charter schools in your district?

NO: Both.

QUESTION #3

Would you support local homestead exemptions in your district?

YES: Both.

QUESTION #4

Will you fight to strengthen SA’s climate action and adaptation plan by ensuring all coal plants close by 2025, a transition to 100% carbon free electricity by 2030 and a goal of transforming San Antonio into a carbon neutral city by 2040?

YES: Both.


Sandoval and Whitney play to the crowd. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

Sandoval and Whitney play to the crowd. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

DISTRICT 7:

Candidates In Attendance: Ana Sandoval (Incumbent), Trevor Whitney

QUESTION #1

In 2017, the city launched CCHIP (Center City Housing and Investment Policy), which provides subsidies and incentives to business for downtown development. Proponents say it drives economic growth. Opponents say it drives gentrification. Do you support the CCHIP?

NO: Both.

QUESTION #2

Currently, the forthcoming cite and release is an administrative agreement between the District Attorney, the San Antonio Police Chief, and Bexar County Sheriff. Would you support a municipal ordinance creating a cite and release policy?

YES: Both.

QUESTION #3

Will you fight to strengthen SA’s climate action and adaptation plan by ensuring all coal plants close by 2025, a transition to 100% carbon free electricity by 2030 and a goal of transforming San Antonio into a carbon neutral city by 2040?

YES: Sandoval.

NO: Whitney.

QUESTION #4


In 2018, 144,000 people signed a petition to make their employers provide paid sick time to their workers because right now 354,000 workers have to make the choice between taking care of themselves and paying their bills. If elected will you fight to protect San Antonio’s paid sick time ordinance?

YES: Sandoval.

NO: Whitney.


D8 Candidates. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

D8 Candidates. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

DISTRICT 8:

Candidates In Attendance: Manny Palaez, Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe, Tony Valdivia

QUESTION #1


In 2018, 144,000 people signed a petition to make their employers provide paid sick time to their workers because right now 354,000 workers have to make the choice between taking care of themselves and paying their bills. If elected will you fight to protect San Antonio’s paid sick time ordinance?

TOPIC: Paid Sick Leave

YES: Gonzales-Wolfe, Valdivia.

NO: Palaez.

QUESTION #2


Would you support enhancing SA’s non-discrimination ordinance protecting LGBTQIA+ individuals to cover private sector workers?

TOPIC: LGBTQIA+ Protection

YES: All.

QUESTION #3

This district houses an immense number of students. Would you support an income based rent control policy in SA?

TOPIC: Income Based Rent Control

YES: Gonzales-Wolfe

NO: Palaez, Valdivia

QUESTION #4

TOPIC: SA Climate Plan

Will you fight to strengthen SA’s climate action and adaptation plan by ensuring all coal plants close by 2025, a transition to 100% carbon free electricity by 2030 and a goal of transforming San Antonio into a carbon neutral city by 2040?

YES: Valdivia, Gonzales-Wolfe.

NO: Palaez.


Councilman Courage stands alone from D9. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

Councilman Courage stands alone from D9. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

DISTRICT 9:

Candidate In Attendance: John Courage (Incumbent)

QUESTION #1

Will you fight to strengthen SA’s climate action and adaptation plan by ensuring all coal plants close by 2025, a transition to 100% carbon free electricity by 2030 and a goal of transforming San Antonio into a carbon neutral city by 2040?

ANSWER: No.

QUESTION #2

Would you support an income-based rent control policy in SA?

ANSWER: Yes.

QUESTION #3

In 2018, 144,000 people signed a petition to make their employers provide paid sick time to their workers because right now 354,000 workers have to make the choice between taking care of themselves and paying their bills. If elected will you fight to protect San Antonio’s paid sick time ordinance?

ANSWER: Yes.

QUESTION #4

Currently, the forthcoming cite and release is an administrative agreement between the District Attorney, the San Antonio Police Chief, and Bexar County Sheriff. Would you support a municipal ordinance creating a cite and release policy?

ANSWER: Yes.


DISTRICT 10:

Candidates: Elise Kibler, Maria Perez, Linda Montellano

QUESTION #1

In 2018, 144,000 people signed a petition to make their employers provide paid sick time to their workers because right now 354,000 workers have to make the choice between taking care of themselves and paying their bills. If elected will you fight to protect San Antonio’s paid sick time ordinance?

TOPIC: Paid Sick Leave

YES: All.

QUESTION #2

Will you fight to strengthen SA’s climate action and adaptation plan by ensuring all coal plants close by 2025, a transition to 100% carbon free electricity by 2030 and a goal of transforming San Antonio into a carbon neutral city by 2040?

TOPIC: SA Climate Plan

YES: All.

QUESTION #3

Would you support an income-based rent control policy in SA?

TOPIC: Income-Based Rent Control

YES: All.

QUESTION #4

Currently, the forthcoming cite and release is an administrative agreement between the District Attorney, the San Antonio Police Chief, and Bexar County Sheriff. Would you support a municipal ordinance creating a cite and release policy?

TOPIC: Cite and Release

YES: All.


Mayoral candidates take the stage. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

Mayoral candidates take the stage. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

MAYORAL RACE:

Candidates In Attendance: Antonio “Tony” Diaz, Matt Pina, John Velasquez

QUESTION #1

In 2018, 144,000 people signed a petition to make their employers provide paid sick time to their workers because right now 354,000 workers have to make the choice between taking care of themselves and paying their bills. If elected will you fight to protect San Antonio’s paid sick time ordinance?

TOPIC: Paid Sick Leave

YES: Diaz, Velasquez

MAYBE: Pina

QUESTION #2

In 2017, the city launched CCHIP (Center City Housing and Investment Policy), which provides subsidies and incentives to business for downtown development. Proponents say it drives economic growth. Opponents say it drives gentrification. Do you support the CCHIP?

TOPIC: Do you support the CCHIP?

NO: All.

QUESTION #3

Will you fight to strengthen SA’s climate action and adaptation plan by ensuring all coal plants close by 2025, a transition to 100% carbon free electricity by 2030 and a goal of transforming San Antonio into a carbon neutral city by 2040?

TOPIC: SA Climate Plan

MAYBE: Pina

NO: Diaz, Velasquez

QUESTION #4

Currently, the forthcoming cite and release is an administrative agreement between the District Attorney, the San Antonio Police Chief, and Bexar County Sheriff. Would you support a municipal ordinance creating a cite and release policy?

TOPIC: Cite and Release

YES: All.

QUESTION #5

Would you increase the maximum amount of risk mitigation funds that an individual could receive from relocations and emergency assistance from the city?

TOPIC: Risk Mitigation Funds Increase

YES: Diaz, Velasquez

MAYBE: Pina

QUESTION #6

Districts 8 & 9 have launched participatory budget programs allowing citizens to help direct city funds to projects they care about. Do you support launching a city-wide participatory budgeting program for the 2019 budget?

TOPIC: Participatory Budgetging

YES: Pina, Velasquez

NO: Diaz


PART 2: TALENT SHOW

Councilman Trevino shows off a 3-minute self-portrait for his talent. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

Councilman Trevino shows off a 3-minute self-portrait for his talent. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

The talent portion of the event kicked off with a speed-painting display by D1 Councilman Roberto Trevino, whose artwork didn’t resemble anything concrete at first. However, once he flipped it over, it became clear that it was a portrait of H. Drew Galloway with the word “VOTE” brushed in the bottom left corner of the canvas. Trevino’s competitor, Bustamante, told stories of his world travels and his passion for logistics, and Brad Kessler tried to play to the crowd’s humor with a darkly comedic stand-up bit. The clear highlight of the D1 talent competition was candidate Raymond Zavala leading the mass of millennials in a beautiful display of “America The Beautiful” that would have made Thomas Jefferson’s eyes water.

Raymond Zavala leads the crowd in song. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

Raymond Zavala leads the crowd in song. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

District 2 displayed some serious poetic talent, including Jada Andrews-Sullivan’s poem “A Conversation With the Mirror,” Salena Santibanez’s “Move On Up” motivational speech that ended with a rebellious mic drop onto the stage, and Joseph Powell’s Mumford & Son’s-esque folk song portraying Davy Crockett as a drunkard and murderer. District 3’s Rebecca Viagran followed up with a poetry reading from the musical Hamilton.

Joel Mendoza hands out leis. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

Joel Mendoza hands out leis. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

District 4 saw more than one candidate embrace the millennial medium of meme art, as well as the popularity of Tejano superstar Selena Quintanilla to connect with their audience. Joel Mendoza, a native of Mission, Texas, shared a few memes to start out his performance and ended by handing out Hawaiian leis to the audience and dancing to Selena’s “Techno Cumbia.” Other highlights from District 4, included Adriana Rocha Garcia’s guacamole-making skills, Genevieve Trinidad’s heartwarming tales of her passion for rescuing stray cats, and Samantha Sanchez’s lecture on overcoming cerebral palsy and living as a cis-woman who works as a STEM professor.

Shirley Gonzales tells her story. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

Shirley Gonzales tells her story. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

District 5’s Shirley Gonzales invoked her own love story to rouse the crowd, telling how her and her husband met while biking in the Hill Country and encouraged the crowd to “bike on!” Her competitor Jilma “Jill” Davila gave an impassioned speech about “fighting the good fight,” ending with the slogan emblazoned across her t-shirt, “Unidos somos la Fuerza!” District 6 followed with their lone representative at this event, Mario Adame, give a touching love poem for a “special someone” in his life.

Ana Sandoval sings and struts while supporters dance down the aisle. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

Ana Sandoval sings and struts while supporters dance down the aisle. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

Trevor Whitney rides a scooter down the aisle. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

Trevor Whitney rides a scooter down the aisle. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

District 7’s Trevor Whitney swaggered up to the stage first for the talent portion, scooter in hand. “I don’t have a lot of false promises like a lot of politicians here do, but I do have a scooter and I do have a song,” proclaimed the ever-vocal Whitney prior to hopping off the stage and riding the aforementioned vehicle around the room, ending with a raucous crash into the stage. This performance was contrasted by Ana Sandoval’s karaoke rendition of “Besame Mucho” involving a choreographed line dance by her supporters down the center aisle.

Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe speaks. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe speaks. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

Admittedly, it was hard to follow up these two acts, but District 8’s Manny Pelaez made a valiant effort with a comedic video that basically amounted to an advertisement for MOVE San Antonio. Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe followed with an emotional story about her life’s struggles being a trans woman and finding her meaning in life, and Tony Valdivia ended for the district with a story about his immigrant father moving to America and chasing his dreams.

John Courages jokes about the Trump presidency. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

John Courages jokes about the Trump presidency. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

District 9’s John Courage, wearing a bright orange Hawaiian shirt with highlighter orange pants to match, launched into a comedy routine dealing with the Trump administration. Referring to the President with the moniker bestowed upon Voldemort in the Harry Potter films, “He Who Shall Not Be Named,” the 67-year-old current councilman laid into the president with quip after quip about the Mueller Report and White House wiretappings.

Linda Montellano plays an inflatable saxophone. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

Linda Montellano plays an inflatable saxophone. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

District 10’s candidates played off the theme of lip-syncing and strutting, with Elise Kibler and Linda Montellano both did performances and dances to songs, with the latter playing inflatable instruments while “Takin It To The Streets” resounded in the background.

John Velasquez hands out promotional t-shirts. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

John Velasquez hands out promotional t-shirts. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

The mayoral talent portion of the evening featured Antonio Diaz stating that he had nothing to perform but that he still hopes people vote for him. This sentiment seemed to strike a chord with the millennial audience, as they cheered him off the stage. Matt Pina played an instrumental song on his guitar and gave a somber reminder about suicide-awareness and John Velasquez played a video about his life before handing out campaign t-shirts.


PART 3: PICTURE OF THE BIG PICTURE

Photos of the candidate’s visions. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

The evening then began to wrap up when the candidates were given 30 seconds each to show one picture that summarized their vision for the future. Some highlights of this portion include District 1’s Roberto Trevino’s emphasis on not building walls but instead “putting up communities” and District 2’s Ruben Arciniega’s photo of the house where he grew up in on the Eastside in the 1980s and his desire to give the city an “ability to look forward.” Also notable in this portion of the event was District 2’s Denise Guiterrez Homer’s Loteria photo emphasizing that every community makes a difference in this city, Mario Adame’s reminder that all elected officials “answer to us,” and Trevor Whitney’s paper airplane analogy describing how his views are divergent from the rest of the candidates.


Ana Sandoval, winner of the “Best of the Bunch” award. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer )

Ana Sandoval, winner of the “Best of the Bunch” award. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena, SA Sentinel Photographer)

After the final portion of the evening concluded, H. Drew Galloway quickly made his way back to the stage and announced the award for “Best of the Bunch,” the candidate who was chosen by attendees as the winner for the evening. Anticipation mounted in the spacious hall, even though most in the audience had an idea of who would win based on the live graphics displayed on screen at the end of each section and the Twitter wall cascading down the right side of the auditorium. Nonetheless, when Galloway read Ana Sandoval’s name aloud, the crowd echoed its approval and Mrs. Sandoval stepped forward to claim her prize.

Although all the candidates weren’t able to attend the event, it nonetheless showcased a large offering of local politicians, many of whom were not invited to participate in other local debates around the city. Notable missing candidates included current Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who was unable to attend due to a family emergency, and District 6 Councilman and Mayoral Candidate, Greg Brockhouse, who was attending a memorial for fallen firefighter, Scott Deem.

Brockhouse made a late appearance towards the tail end of the forum and lingered in the back after the night’s festivities had concluded to answer questions from constituents. Even though unable to participate in the full event, he was still in awe of the varied format of the debate. “It’s the most unique thing I’ve ever seen and it was pretty amazing to see the interactions. It’s crazy. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” remarked Brockhouse. He ended his statement to The Sentinel by saying that if he is to get elected mayor, he will try to make sure to come to the next one in two years.