San Antonio.- Gabriel Q. Velasquez officially tosses his hat in the ring for the D-3 seat on City Council Saturday morning surrounded by southside supporters including Manuel Medina, Richard Sánchez, Jesse Borrego and Brandon Keropian Olmos. (Courtesy photo)
Last week, architectural designer and community activist Gabriel Q. Velasquez told La Prensa he plans to throw his hat into the ring to run for the District 3 City Council seat.
“I would rather not enter the political arena, but the values I grew up with, the people who mentored me who put their communities first before their own profit, those traditions task me to run – especially now,” Velasquez said. “When it comes to basic accountability in San Antonio, our Council for the most part is silent.”
The Southside native explained that as the final mentee of late Judge Albert Peña Jr. he helped lead the Coalition of Inner City Advocates at the Mexican American Unity Council and organized public participation on the City's fluoride decision, Public Education vs. Charter Schools in conjunction with State Senator Joe Bernal and advocating for senior citizens in need. Velasquez is recognized nationally and internationally as an immigration reform activist in San Antonio, Chicago and Mexico, D.F
Velazquez, 48, is well known as a community activist and organizer, but never ran for office before. The contender is vying for the seat vacated by Jennifer Ramos. In January of 2012, the Council unanimously appointed cyber-specialist Leticia Ozuna to fill the position.
“I believe there’s room in City Council for stronger representation of the people’s concerns and I am willing to advocate for the difficult issues,” Velasquez said. “It seems every day it costs more to be a citizen in San Antonio, but lots of people’s incomes aren’t keeping up with that pace.”
The campaign to be known as VoteVelasquez2013 officially announced the candidacy over the weekend at Patty’s Taco House at 2422 Hackberry Street. Among his supporters is the widow of Judge Peña, Olga who in her own right is recognized because of her advocacy in the barrio.
San Antonio native and accomplished actor Jesse Borrego, a Southside resident and Harlandale High School graduate, introduced and endorsed Velasquez at the event along accompanied by others including Manuel Medina, head of the Bexar County Democratic Party, the Tejano Democrats have endorsed Velasquez. Others backing him are Richard Sanchez and Brandon Olmos.
Long history of community involvement in San Antonio
Velasquez, also a Harlandale graduate, earned a degree in architecture from has been an active participant in several community projects like the Southside Central San Antonio Community Plan; the San Antonio Downtown Neighborhood Plan and UTSA’s Downtown Neighborhood Master Plan.
One of the original planning committee member of the San Antonio Neighborhood Commercial Revitalization Program (NCRP); and most recently is co-designer with Artist/Vietnam Veteran Jesse Trevino of the planned Veterans Monument at Elmendorf Lake Park. He also serves on a San Antonio River Authority creek restoration oversight committee created to provide community guidance to SARA for restoring the environmental condition of the San Antonio creek/river system.
Velasquez also served as Board President of the Adult Literacy and ESL organization "Project Learn to Read" and in 2000 was appointed to the San Antonio Higher Education Authority and worked as a member of the Education Committee of the San Antonio Museum of Art.
The new candidate is a past recipient of the San Antonio DiezySeis de Septiembre Commission Award for "Outstanding Leadership in Cultural Awareness” and assisted with the inaugural Luminaria in 2008. Former Mayor Phil Hardberger’s office invited the architectural designer to be part of the founding committee of Luminaria and a District 3 Council Appointee to the City of San Antonio Cultural Arts Board (CAB), where he also served as a funding panelist for the Office of Cultural Affairs.
Angela Covo is a reporter for La Prensa de San Antonio. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.