Mayoral Candidates discuss poverty, faith, immigration and mental health

NOWCastSA's video from the April 3 forum on Nonprofit Impact has gone viral after several media outlets focused attention on Mayor Ivy Taylor's response to a question about the systemic cause of generational poverty. Scroll down for a link that goes directly to video of her full response.

Here are links to the other news organization's articles that credited and linked to NOWCastSA video:


Where do the candidates for mayor of San Antonio stand on increasing funding for nonprofits and delegate agencies? What is the city’s role in helping medically vulnerable children, community foster care, children’s mental health, local education policy and offering sanctuary to immigrants?

What are the candidates’ spiritual beliefs and what do they see as the systemic causes of generational poverty?

Ivy Taylor and Ron Nirenberg answered those questions and more during the April 3, 2017 Mayoral Candidate Forum on the impact of nonprofits in San Antonio.

Scroll down below the video to see the questions and get a link to jump straight to the candidates’ answer. This article has been updated throughout.

Use these links to jump straight to the candidates' answers in the video:

Introductory Statement by Ivy Taylor:
Introductory Statement by Ron Nirenberg:

QUESTION 1: Mike Gilliam, President/ CEO Lighthouse for the Blind: What could or would you do to simplify city’s funding process for nonprofits, i.e.: delegate agencies?

TAYLOR: We could be more strategic and need to expand access to smaller agencies. Need to have conversation about agencies political and advocacy. In favor of letting new agencies get funding. (full quote:  

NIRENBERG: First, understand what delegate agency does. They provide important safety net services that the city cannot handle on its own. Also the application process needs to be simplified. Socio economic inequities mean problems addressed by safety net will increase. (full quote:

QUESTION 2: Gilbert Garcia, San Antonio Express-News follow up: What would you do to ensure that smaller nonprofits have an opportunity for funding?

QUESTION 3: Robert Salcido, Chair, PRIDE Center San Antonio: As director of a center that provides services to the LGBTQ community, I want to know, as mayor, what is your plan to promote inclusivity as well as working toward bringing cohesion to all these groups?  

NIRENBERG: "I think that starting or building a culture of inclusion and compassion begins with the rhetoric that comes out of city hall. I don’t think we can sit back and let issues like this happen, I think we need to make sure that we’re focusing and enforcing our non-discrimination ordinance." (full quote

TAYLOR: "When I got into the mayor’s office, I worked with the manager to create of the office of diversity and inclusion." (full quote:

QUESTION 4: Henry Rosales, CEO American Volkssport: Would you as mayor offer sanctuary to our law-abiding immigrants, why or why not?

TAYLOR: "Though we have not adopted the political label of calling ourselves a sanctuary city, we have ensured from a practical perspective that our law enforcement officials here know that their job is to enforce the laws of our community and not immigration laws, and so their job is not to ask people about their status because we want to make sure that everyone in our community feels safe and feels comfortable approaching law enforcement ." (full quote:

NIRENBERG: "This is a country where the front door step is the Statue of Liberty. I think we need to focus, not on the debates in Austin or in D.C. but focus on what are we supposed to do as citizens of San Antonio, as public leaders in San Antonio. And that is to make sure everyone who is here feels safe, and has a right to belong and to prosper in this community. Every law abiding person should be able to do that." (full quote: )

QUESTION 5: Nora Oyler, Executive Director of Spina Bifida of Texas: The proposed state budget cuts could significantly affect a medically vulnerable population, including children we serve. What is the city going to do about these children who are not going to have medical care? How is the city going to help these children, and there is a big population of them?



QUESTION 6: Gilbert Garcia: When it comes to goals for the city, such as SA Tomorrow, where can nonprofits play a role? how to do you see those plans work to make nonprofits a player?



QUESTION 7: Melissa Kazen, Executive Vice President, Communities in Schools: What role do you see the city playing in developing and influencing local education policies and strategies to meet SA 2020 education goals?
 Simon Salas, CEO, Good Samaritan Community Services: Would you support taking the steps necessary to dedicate funding to support the work of nonprofits that provide and enhance certain preventative health and or after school programs and needs to increase the amount now available to what would be raised by an 1/8 percent sales tax or about $31 million?



QUESTION 8: Gilbert Garcia: Should the 16 school districts in San Antonio be consolidated?



QUESTION 9: Jane Fairchild Children’s Shelter: What role do you see city playing in a Community Care model for the Foster Care children?



QUESTION 10: Fred Hines, CEO of Clarity Child Guidance: We all know that a large percentage of kids and adults with mental health issues never get service. Two of the key reasons for that are access and a real shortage of mental health professionals… What do you think the role of the city should be in dealing with these mental health issues?



QUESTION 11: Maureen O'Nell SA, Executive Director, Pets Alive! How does animal welfare play into your vision of a vibrant San Antonio?



QUESTION 12: Megan Legacy, Executive Director, SA Christian Hope Resource Center:  What do you see as the deepest systemic causes of generational poverty in San Antonio?

TAYLOR: "Since you’re with the Christian Coalition, I’ll go ahead and put it out there that to me, it's broken people, you know, people not being in relationship with their creator, and therefore not being in good relationship with their families and their communities and you know, not being productive members of society. So I think that's the ultimate answer. That's not something that I work on from my position as Mayor of the community, though I try to be an example. 

"But as far as some of the policy issues that we work on from the political angle or the nonprofit angle,  I see education as the great equalizer for a variety of reasons. if you want to talk about school districts or economic segregation, we just have not provided the same opportunities for people to be, to have access to high quality education that puts them on the path for careers in every single part of San Antonio. So I see that as being one of the systemic causes.

"Another that I've worked on, that I'd like ot point out as well, is teen pregnancy. And that kind of goes hand in hand with education, because when people are parenting early, that usually means that they don't have an opportunity to complete their education. So it ends of being a vicious cycle. So those are a couple of the things where I think there's a lot of things we can do.

"I have tried to bring teen pregnancy forward as an issue. We need to focus on our resources from the city platform, and you know, I've gotten some pushback. I've had people say, 'Oh that's a moral issue, a religious isue, a family issue.'

"I've tried to frame it as an economic development issue. Because when people are parenting early and not connecting to the educational system, completing their education, then that means they are usually going to be underemployed, unemployed, that the cycle will continue. And I do think there are many things we can do, whether it be from city council or from the nonprofit community, to stem that tide."

(Direct link to quote in video )

NIRENBERG: ""Your question is the stuff of philosophical conversations across the country at tables of graduate students. But think it is extremely important one and it makes us think. Certainly it makes me think

"If I had to point to one cause, philosophically, it would be the loss of the public common, the sense that we are all in this together. And that has resulted in people not doing a lot of things, such as participating in local elections, such as reading a newspaper, such as doing whatever it is to help with a neighborhood associations. The loss of the sense of a common ground, a common purpose for people throughout this city and throughout this community is a plague on us all.

"But I think from a public policy standpoint, it manifests itself in several different ways. It is one of the reasons why I have been focused during my tenure on issues of transparency and ethics and accessibility of policy making at city hall. One of the reasons for that, is that, I talk to constituents all the time, that say, ‘We know what you guys are doing, it’s all happening to us, this community continues to grow, and my neighborhood has a greenbelt behind it, I know it is going to be a shopping mall one day because there is nothing we can do to stop it.’ Well that’s not true. We can do better with growing a more sustainable community in a lot of different ways.

One of the chief policy challenges that I think our city faces, that goes back directly to your question, is figuring out a way, well there is a way, the citizens have directed us to a way through SATomorrow, which is why I have been very aggressive with this plan. The citizens directed us to manage our growth better and in a sustainable way.

That is important for generational poverty because the more that our city grows every which way without any sense of management, of uniformity, or of even sustainability, the more our infrastructure dollars get stretched. The more challenge it is for us to even deliver on-time bus service on the South and West side, so families can get home in time to do homework with their kids, the more that we are not able to maintain fixing the potholes on the streets that are in the high growth areas.

It creates a challenge that results in neighborhoods that have seen disinvestment for generations. And what invariably is located within   a neighborhood that has seen  disinvestment? Poorer school districts, poorer outcomes within family environments, worse community health. All of the other social ills we’ve talked about, whether it is family violence issues or it’s simple crime. Those are invariably correlated to this lack of investment in terms of our public resources.

All of that in my opinion, philosophically, goes back to a sense that we have lost the public common."

(Direct link to quote in video:

QUESTION 13: Gilbert Hernandez President/CEO San Antonio Youth for Christ: What is your plan in working with faith-based organizations, like nonprofits and churches, to better serve the city?
Jay Burchfield, CEO Life Skills For Living: What are your spiritual beliefs and how will they affect your decision making as mayor?

TAYLOR: "As far as my own spiritual beliefs and how they affect my governing, I am a Christian, a born again Christian, a believer in Jesus Christ and how it affects me on a daily basis since I draw very heavily on that as far as the strength to do this job [and the scriptures like the one in my notebook today] really do help me on a daily basis in order to serve San Antonians, that’s what works for me." (full answer

NIRENBERG: "I was raised in a Catholic-Jewish household… It taught me a respect for the role of faith in religion but it also taught me the universality of religions… I have a deep respect for where religions intersect … the simple golden rule which is that we want to make sure that … government is treating everyone as they would want to be treated, that we have a government that is based on equality, that’s based in inclusion and diversity.” (full answer: )

CLOSING STATEMENT QUESTION: Dawn White Executive Director of Christian Assistance Ministries: Councilman Nirenberg why should we replace the Mayor we have with you and Mayor Taylor, why should we keep you for another term?