Council Tries to Tighten the Rules for Running for Council

San Antonio City Council is moving to update the City Charter to allow city officials to more carefully examine the qualifications of an individual who is filing to run for Council, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The issue is being pushed by north side Councilman John Courage.  In the race he won in a runoff earlier this year, as many as half of the people who filed to run for the seat has questions about their residency in the district.  One candidate didn't even live in Bexar County.

"I think that all of us agree that the integrity of the election is utmost to everyone who runs for public office, and everyone who serves in public office," Courage said.

Currently, the City has no authority to check out whether candidates for City Council actually live in the districts they claim to want to represent.

Courage says the only alternative that candidates have now is to personally sue the suspicious Council wanna-bes in civil court, a process that is expensive, takes a lot of time, and the prospect of becoming the victim of a spurious lawsuit could force truly qualified candidates to decide against running.

Councilman Roberto Trevino, who just returned from the trade mission to Israel, said he was told that in Tel Aviv, the turnout in municipal elections in 92%.  In San Antonio, the turnout for last spring's local elections was about 8%, and Trevino says concerns about the integrity of the election process may be one reason why the City's turnout remains low.

Councilman Rey Saldana said any effort to crack down on illegal candidates should include some level of punishment for those who try to skirt the law, saying an 'ordinance without punishment is just a suggestion.'

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