Updated: Soon-to-be retired firefighter Dereck Hillyer was selected by community members to represent District 2 on City Council when the seat becomes vacant on Jan. 7.
The East Side community moved swiftly to choose someone to support for the position after Councilman William "Cruz" Shaw announced in mid-December that he would resign five months before his term ends. Shaw accepted a position as an associate judge for the 436th Judicial District Court.
At a Dec. 22 community meeting at the Eastwood Baptist Church called by neighborhood leaders, State Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins helped about 100 people prioritize the issues they want the next council representative to focus on, and highlight the characteristics a candidate should have. (Read the story and watch video of the 11 potential candidates introducing themselves here.)
On Dec. 29 at the Dominion Church of God in Christ, the field narrowed to six hopefuls who took questions on issues including communication and transparency with constituents, transportation, economic development, education, homelessness, and elder care. Almost 100 people attended the forum moderated by Margaret Richardson Taylor. After Rose Hill of Government Hill removed herself from consideration, the candidates, in order of appearance were: Dori Brown, Dereck Hillyer, Lester Bryant, Chris Dawkins, Denise Homer and Dan Martinez.
Over the next several days, community members said they voted via email on which candidate they would back. They did not release any details about the vote, but annouced Hillyer as their choice at a news conference Jan. 2.
Watch this interview with Hillyer after the news conference:
San Antonio City Council will have the ultimate say on who is selected as the District 2 representative, but organizers say they believe the elected officials will respect the community’s decision. “I believe that the voice of the people is important,” said Gervin-Hawkins.
Watch video of the Dec. 29 Q&A with six candidates for District 2:
Hillyer said the community forums were "like being at the family dinner table. I've heard their concerns. I will be the voice of their concerns...I’ll be humble in doing so and representing them with council as I try to work across district lines with neighboring prospering districts.”
Among the issues the City Council is expected to take on in 2019 are negotiations with the San Antonio Professional Fire Fighters Association. The tense conflict between the city and the union has resulted in lawsuits and a charter-amendment election in November where the union came out on top with right to go to binding arbitration.
Despite working as a firefighter for more than 34 years, Hillyer said, “I’ll be a retired firefighter at that time, and I think in the best interest of all, I would probably have to recuse myself through that process and still respect the process that the council will be challenged to deal with.”
Hillyer said he plans to run for District 2 representative whether he is selected by City Council as the interim Councilman or not.
“I do have plans to run. I’m a lifetime member of District 2, so I’ll always be a public servant in District 2,” he said.
The last opportunity to submit an official application for the position was 5 p.m. Jan. 4 at to the Office of the City Clerk. Click here to see other requirements for the application.
Editors note: This article has been update to make it clear that the community did not release any details of the informal email vote on the candidate.