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Muni Madness

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Council member David Medina

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Another key challenger is Ricardo Briones, an activist-minded attorney who represented several Dreamers (students supporting the Dream Act) who got arrested when they barricaded themselves in former senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s office in late 2010. While supporters tout Briones’ leadership as a San Anto Cultural Arts board member until this year, detractors — most notably former D5 Council member Patti Radle — recall his tenure at San Anto as shaky. Radle blames Briones for mishandling the theft of some $14,000 by a staffer in 2010. Wanting to keep the incident quiet at a tough time in the nonprofit’s history (San Anto co-founder Manuel Castillo had recently died of cancer), Briones called on the Law Office of McKnight and Bravenec, his employer, which opted to handle the theft as a civil matter to avoid police and any bad press. Briones shouldn’t have used his own law firm, Radle insists; “Part of my disagreement with Ricardo is I don’t know if he understands conflict of interest,” she told the Current in February. Second, Radle argues, San Anto’s over $80,000 in funding from the city that year required transparency, no matter how embarrassing. “San Anto was getting public money,” Radle said. “That demands transparency.”

Of the theft incident, Briones said, “We came to a civil agreement and, basically, we were just trying to get that money back … It was a simple solution and I think it made the most sense,” He insisted that “I understand the need for transparency, but we were being transparent. We were talking to our funders, everyone was aware of what the situation was.”

District 3

There’s no true incumbent in District 3, although Council member Leticia Ozuna currently holds the seat. When outgoing D3 Councilwoman Jenifer Ramos left the post for her unsuccessful Commissioners Court run last year, Council appointed Ozuna, a cyber-security specialist, out of a swath of candidates hoping to fill the remainder of Ramos’ term. Council passed on Rebecca Viagran and Gabriel Velasquez, both of whom are challenging Ozuna this election.

Since her appointment, Ozuna has done much to make a name for herself — some of it unmistakably positive, some of it controversial. Just in time for the campaign season, Ozuna launched her San Antonio Area Broadband Network, a no-brainer expansion of the local public communications network.

Smartly marketed by Ozuna as a way to bridge the digital divide, SAABN essentially leverages unlit fiber-optic cable that has sat unused beneath us for a decade, providing access to school districts, hospitals, libraries, and universities.

But, soon after Ozuna joined Council, she got caught in the middle of a down-zoning dustup at Pecan Valley Golf Course that pitted developers against residents of the nearby neighborhood. Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson made political hay of the ordeal, inflaming tensions at community hearings. He went on to endorse Rebecca Viagran, a South Side native. Other big name endorsements in the race include Nelson Wolff and Leticia Van de Putte for Ozuna, and Roland Gutierrez and Jennifer Ramos for Viagran.

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