This article was first published in the August 21 print edition of The Tower, a new project of The Wendt.
Raymond Zavala is a 66 year old retired veteran running to represent District 1 in the San Antonio City Council, the district that Trinity falls in. Zavala is running for City Council because he is concerned about youth, seniors, and the disabled.
When asked why he has aspirations for this seat, Zavala said “the city council right now is trying to make San Antonio like Dallas, Austin, and Houston. San Antonio is a unique city and shouldn’t be messed with….Some changes are good, but not when you toss them down the throats of the people.”
An issue of importance to Zavala’s campaign is accountability, of which he thinks there is none. He explained that even though City Council members have a salary, they still receive a free catered lunch, even after San Antonio voters approved a salary increase for City Council.
This increase, which passed in May 2015, raised the salary from $1000 a year to $45,722 a year, a livable wage. Zavala wonders why the City Council still continues to use additional tax dollars for items like catered lunch and free airport parking when Council members now have a full livable wage.
Zavala was, and still is, opposed to the pay raise. “If I was to win the district race––and I intend to win it––I will give up all my salary except for one dollar, because legally I have to take one dollar. I will use that salary to help the seniors, the youth, the disabled, and the veterans,” Zavala said.
Zavala cares deeply about San Antonio’s youth, and plans to bring back the San Antonio Neighborhood Youth Organization (SANYO). SANYO was started in 1965 and gave high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to get job training or hold summer jobs in the city. After influencing tens of thousands of young adults, it was terminated in 1994 due to lack of funding.
Zavala believes that San Antonio teens need summer jobs not only to earn money, but also to keep them out of trouble.
Responsibility and accountability are characteristics Zavala believes are lacking in today’s youth and needed now more than ever. Zavala envisions a revived SANYO that pays young adults minimum wage in exchange for their hard work and holds summer events for children ages 6-13 like attending the symphony and visiting the zoo.
Zavala is running to replace incumbent Roberto Trevino, who was appointed to the position in 2014 after Diego Bernal left the council to serve in the state House of Representatives. “Trevino favors the LGBT over anybody else,” Zavala said. This summer, Trevino led the council in funding the construction of a rainbow crosswalk. Zavala believes it is unfair for the city to pay for special projects for certain groups.
“I fight the good fight,” Zavala said. “For the right reasons: for the people, not for me. I have no interest in being governor or senator. All I want to do is serve the people of San Antonio.”