Glitter Political: Meet Carlton Soules, SA politics’ own honey badger
Published: January 15, 2014
Soules feels the city is not prepared for its inevitable population growth and feels that Wolff has “gotten caught up” in what Soules deems “wasteful legacy projects.” He offers the streetcar initiative as his leading example.
“After you build it, you have to operate it. Money doesn't grow on trees. The federal government is cutting back,” he says pulling towards his chest with a cupped hand in a seemingly subconscious illustration. “We have to make sure that we are prioritizing our spending.”
He says the council did not necessarily “criticize” his suggestions.
“They were like 'great idea ... but anyway.' It was a mindset of, 'We're going to have rail in San Antonio. Period.'”
He shakes his head.
“Obviously, I've had some pretty contentious fights ... but I don't take them personally.”
“It seems some people do,” I suggest.
“I don't understand that,” he replies with a casual squint. “If you understand rejection a lot, you don't get upset by it. You just do the best you can and you push forward.”
That right there is his 20-year-plus business background talking. Like former Councilman (D-8) Reed Williams and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Soules navigates within the oft-dispassionate language of business. “The other thing that disturbs me is that Bexar County now ranks number one in debt per capita of the big urban counties,” he says. “Eventually, that has to be paid back. You have limited resources. How can you do the most good for the most people with the resources you have?”
“Are you cool with this reputation you have as Mr. Fiscal Responsibility?” I ask.
“Well, that doesn't sound very exciting,” he chuckles. “But, yes.”
When asked about his opponents Soules has a swift, salty answer.
“Well, let's lump Tommy and Nelson together because their voting record is almost identical,” says the fiscal conservative. “So although Tommy is saying similar things that I'm saying ... [that] we need to get less focused on big legacy projects ... he voted for them. The time to object is when the vote occurs not later on.”
Soules continues, “I'm not really interested in having things named after me… That holds no allure to me whatsoever. It's not about glory. It's not about power. It's about doing something well. If there comes a time when I feel I'm done and that I've done well, I'll go do something else.”
Soules' assertion that he doesn't aspire to be a career politician may partially help explain why he was able to dance to beat of his own conservative drum on the council dais.
He suddenly clasps his hands together and searches for something in his mind. After a moment he recites, “The graveyards of the world are full of indispensable men,” a paraphrased quote from French statesman Charles de Gaulle.
“So, you do your part while you are here and then you hope that you've helped bring up other people who are ready to take the reins after you,” he explains. “I'm a big believer in trying to elevate others because you can't get anything done by yourself.”