Mind Games

SB 11 and HB 18 are symptoms of a larger shift in how our culture views schools. Instead of just viewing school as a place for academic learning, we increasingly view it as a place for young adult daycare and moral growth.

The state should leave mental health to mom and dad.

This session, the Texas legislature passed Senate Bill 11 and House Bill 18 in response to the recent school shootings, specifically the shooting at Santa Fe High School located outside Houston. SB 11 establishes a number of new requirements to ensure school safety, many of which address the mental health of students. HB 18 is entirely about Texas students’ mental health, adding requirements to curriculum, employee training, and many programs and services designed to improve the mental health conditions of Texas schools.

SB 11 and HB 18 increasingly shift the responsibility of students’ mental health onto school teachers and administrators and away from parents. I believe this is a negative change for a few reasons.

First, I do not expect the Texas public school system to be successful in its efforts to improve the mental health of its students. Literacy is a core responsibility of schools, but as of 2017, less than half of Texas third graders read at or above the grade level standard. If our schools cannot teach most children to read, I see no reason why they will be able to successfully improve their mental health conditions, seeing as mental health is a far newer and far more complex field of study than literacy.

Second, because most students who have mental health issues do not commit school shootings, this indicates that school is not the cause of these shootings. While school safety is a problem schools should fix with measures like increasing security and drills, the mental health of students is not a problem schools should attempt to fix because mental health is an issue that can arise independently of school. Thus, we as a society should work to find the root cause of the shootings and work to improve mental health conditions in that area.

The mental health of students should always be the responsibility of their parents.

Furthermore, whether you believe those who commit school shootings are driven to do so by mental health issues combined with a lack of community, increased societal polarization, a rise in white supremacy, or something entirely different, these societal problems arise outside of school and should be fixed outside of school.

Third and most importantly, the changes made in SB 11 and HB 18 are not positive changes because mental health simply should not be the responsibility of schools, regardless of the issue of school shootings and safety. Instead, the mental health of students should always be the responsibility of their parents.

SB 11 and HB 18 are symptoms of a larger shift in how our culture views schools. Instead of just viewing school as a place for academic learning, we increasingly view it as a place for young adult daycare and moral growth.

In the mid-twentieth century, public schools in America began including sex education in their curriculum. Unlike biology, which teaches facts about the human reproductive system, sex education teaches students certain behaviors they should or should not engage in. Sex education is a form of education that should be included in a child’s moral upbringing; thus, parents should be responsibly to teaching it to their children.

The same goes for the health education taught to students starting in elementary school. It is one thing for a school to teach (likely in a biology class) the reasons why lean proteins are good nourishment for a human. It is another for a school to teach (likely in a health class) that students should eat certain foods and avoid others. While the information may be the same, the framing of the information is different. This difference is what is wrong with health education. It is assuming responsibilities which should belong to parents and which would belong to them otherwise.

One of the most popular critiques of homeschooling is that homeschooled children miss out on important socialization. This criticism is based on the idea that a main component of traditional schooling is socialization. This view of schooling is fundamentally flawed because it takes something that should happen in the home—the moral, social, and emotional development of children—and puts it in the schoolyard. Schools should be responsible for teaching academic subjects, and parents should be responsible for socializing their children.

Sex and health education and socialization are all important parts of developing a child into a rational, mature, and productive adult. However, parents have a personal relationship with their children, know their children best, and are thus best suited to ensure good sex morals and practices, healthy living, and good socialization. For these same reasons, the responsibility of ensuring good mental health conditions should be in the hands of parents, not teachers and administrators.

Before the start of my senior year of high school, my school replaced our college counselor with a therapist. I believe therapy can be beneficial for many high school students. However, I do not support the change my high school made. The college counselor had helped students navigate the tricky and complex college application process, a subject necessary for students’ advancement of academic achievement. While I missed not having a counselor to help advise me with choosing a college, I know for many other students therapy could be more helpful and necessary than college advising. That fact does not take away from the other fact that therapy is not the school’s job. The school’s job is to help students learn and succeed academically. Students who would benefit from therapy should seek therapy through a different avenue.

This is not to discount the school teachers and administrators who serve as wonderful mentors to their students and help them grow into wonderful young adults. We all can name at least one teacher or administrator who had a positive impact on a non-academic area of our lives. But such leaders make these impacts out of the goodness of their hearts, voluntarily reaching outside the bounds of their jobs.

The changes made by SB 11 and HB 18 likely will not stop school shootings. They are symptoms of a larger prevailing view that school teachers and administrators are responsible for making children into mature, socialized, healthy, rational young adults in addition to literate, academically educated young adults. Contrary to this view, we should hold parents, not schools, responsible for raising their children. This means we should encourage parents, not schools, to keep their children in a healthy mental state.

Life:Powered Educates San Antonio on Climate Action and Adaption Plan

On Thursday, Sept. 5, Life:Powered, an initiative of the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) to “raise America’s energy IQ,” hosted the event “A Bad Trade-Off: The Cost and Consequence of San Antonio’s Climate Policy.” This event was the third of a series of four events Life:Powered has been putting on throughout the summer in different parts of San Antonio. The event focused on the City of San Antonio’s proposed Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP), which will be up for voter approval on Oct 17. The goal of the CAAP, modeled after the Paris Climate Accord, is for San Antonio to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Rafael Bejar, the Director of Outreach for TPPF, said TPPF held this event on the south side of San Antonio because it is often not addressed in political discussions. Since all of San Antonio and (all of Texas) will be affected if the CAAP becomes law, all of San Antonio must be involved in the political process.

Brent Bennet, a policy analyst for Life:Powered with a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering, explained the three goals of the CAAP. The first is that CPS Energy provides 100% carbon-free electricity. Life:Powered has done research proving that while materials costs for wind and solar energy are getting cheaper, total costs will increase because fossil fuels or expensive energy storage units will be necessary for when wind and solar energy inevitably fail. 

Bennet said the city leaders have not thoroughly addressed how they will reach carbon neutrality and how they will pay for it. He mentioned the city of Georgetown, TX, which is $30 million in debt because, in their efforts to use 100% renewable energy, they did not account for the “costs of having too much wind and solar when you don’t need it, and not enough wind and solar when you do.” Bennet says San Antonio should focus on making its electricity “affordable and reliable” instead of “spending its way out of existence.”

The second part of the plan is the city transitioning to 100% electric vehicles for public transportation. Bennet explained that while the city can not force anyone to use electric vehicles, they can spend lots of money trying to encourage the public to do so.

Life:Powered believes choices like transportation should be left to the market. “We’re going to find more efficient ways to use our energy and to get around through our own choices as individuals,” said Bennet. Bennet also stated that the CAAP’s electric transportation efforts will raise everyone’s transportation costs and will harm poor people the most. 

The final part of the CAAP is lowering buildings’ energy use and powering them with solar panels, which the city will enforce through avenues like zoning regulations and permitting. Bennet says the costs of this policy outweigh the benefits; the costs of housing will raise for “the people who can least afford it.” Bennet also mentioned CPS has already spent over $100 million on rooftop solar rebates that have “barely made a dent”. 

Bennet said Life:Powered’s philosophy is that “prosperity and environmental quality go hand-in-hand,” and that to protect the environment, we need to increase our wealth at the same time.

Chuck DeVore, TPPF’s Vice President of National Initiatives and a former California Assemblyman, spoke about California’s energy policies, which are more restrictive than Texas’. The cost of electricity in California runs 50-88% higher than in Texas. “The challenge is: how do you do this and not impoverish those Americans who are at the lower end of the economic spectrum?” asked DeVore.

DeVore spoke further on the results of the city of Georgetown’s new energy policies. Georgetown’s electrical rates are now 63% higher per kilowatt hour than San Marcos’ are. For a battery unit to power a windless winter night in Texas, the city of Georgetown would need a 20,000 ton battery farm which would cost $400 million. 

Jason Isaac, Senior Manager and Distinguished Fellow at Life:Powered, stated that believes the reason over 400 US cities have signed on to the Paris Climate Accord is political. He believes this because a Life:Powered study shows the US eliminating all carbon emissions will have only a 0.097 degree Fahrenheit difference by 2050. 

Shifting to 100% wind, solar, and battery powered energy by 2030 will cost the state of Texas $120 billion or on average about $14,000 per family annually.

Isaac also said that San Antonio has the second-highest poverty rate in the nation, and half of the people below the poverty rate — over 129,000 people in San Antonio — pay over 29% of their income on electricity bills. Isaac thinks the city should be working to lower costs instead of “forcing silly regulations on businesses and homeowners [that] will do nothing but hurt the least among us.” 

Life:Powered will host one more event on the CAAP before the vote takes place on Oct. 17. 

Editor’s Note: Julia Westwick worked as an intern for the Texas Public Policy Foundation in the Summer of 2019.

The Conservatism of Russell Kirk: Prescription

As college students, we go to class and hear our professors spout their opinions about what is wrong with the world and how to fix it. We watch our peers get swept away by pandering politicians at rallies. It seems as if in every corner of Coates Library, students are huddled together, sharing their ways to overthrow the system and reach utopia. We conservative students may find ourselves getting swept away with these ideas. In his third canon, Russell Kirk warns us against getting caught up in modern ideas and suggests we instead have faith in prescription.

We normally use ‘prescription’ to mean a recommendation from an authority. Kirk’s definition deviates just slightly; more fitting is “a claim founded upon ancient custom or long continued use.”  Kirk’s ‘prescriptions’ are “things established by immemorial usage,” meaning the old concepts of our ancestors. He’s referring to the traditions, institutions and overall wisdom our society has acquired through generations of trial and error. Since the beginning of time, people have been experimenting to find the best way to live. Through this process, we moved from hunter-gatherer societies to settled civilizations. We established governments, from monarchies to absolute democracies to totalitarian dictatorships, and over time arrived at the democratic republic Americans live in today. The traditions we abide by today are the product of thousands of years of development, evolution, and evaluation.

Conservatives trust that prescription is almost always a better authority on politics and society than any ideas modern people can think up. Many of the rights we cherish today are prescriptive, such as property rights; it is an ancient concept that one ought to have ownership of the land, money, and objects he worked to obtain. Societal norms and morals are also largely prescriptive. For example, the belief that a man and woman in love should marry and stay in a committed, monogamous relationship and produce offspring is prescriptive. It took thousands of years before this was a societal norm, until finally our ancestors found that monogamous, heterosexual marriage was the best institution to build families and societies upon.

In contemporary American society, many people, especially college students, seek progress at the expense of tradition. Traditions are popularly seen as shackles that hold us back. Marriage, sex being connected to procreation, and gender roles are all examples of prescription that modernity is trying to do away with. Kirk, however, urges conservatives to understand these traditions and institutions as social goods.

“We moderns” (as Kirk calls us) tend to tear down traditions before we even consider why the tradition was set in the first place. The institution of marriage is a prime example of a tradition that “we moderns” are destroying piece by piece. For almost all of western civilization’s history, marriage has been the monogamous union of a man and a woman. Plenty of past societies accepted polygamous marriages or homosexual relations. But over thousands of years and with a little help from some divine intervention, our ancestors settled on lifelong marriage as union between one man and one woman serving the main purpose of continuing society through procreation.

Momentarily setting aside the discussion of truth behind the institution, traditional monogamous marriage is also successful for a few reasons. Most obviously, heterosexual couples can produce and raise offspring. Men and women are different and serve as complements, occupying the necessary roles in the raising of children. But contemporary American society twisted the meaning of marriage into the governmentally-recognized union of people who love each other, completely disregarding the religious and rational prescription that a marriage is centered around honoring God and raising children. So when people with homosexual attractions began to want to obtain marriage licenses, contemporary American society viewed the traditional marriage (that conservatives hold sacred) as a mere bump in the road to progress and decided to legally and socially redefine marriage. Because marriage is now only about love and governmental recognition, divorce seems to be the obvious solution for couples who do not love each other anymore.

As a result of not following prescription, divorce rates have skyrocketed. 50% of all American children born in 2018 will have divorced parents before they turn 18. These children face far more emotional and psychological troubles. They are twice as likely to drop -out of high school, and almost twice as likely to attempt suicide. The US Census Bureau reports that 1 in 4 American children live without a father. These children are more likely to drop-out of high school, commit crimes, live in poverty, and be addicted to drugs and alcohol. As “we moderns” disregard sacred traditions like marriage, the family unit collapses, and society begins to collapse along with it.

Although Trinity students come from diverse economic and geographical backgrounds, we all attend an expensive liberal arts school and many of us have grown up in a bubble. A lot of us have never worked to support ourselves, we are not married (yet) and do not have kids (yet), and frankly, we were most likely raised with the same ‘participation-trophy’ values of the snowflakes we sit next to in class. However, most of our parents – consciously or unconsciously – lived lives based on prescription. We live in the greatest, freest country in the history of the world because our founding fathers built it with the traditions of their forefathers in mind.  We live in a country based on prescription and were raised by people who follow prescription, but our generation lacks understanding of what prescription is and why we should follow it. Because of this, it may be easy for us to take these values that shape our politics and society for granted. It may be easy for us to believe a politician when he tells us that the solution to poverty is more government handouts. It may be easy to believe a leftist feminist when he tells us that casual sex is empowering for women. We can be swept away into believing that we do not need to follow prescription, that radical solutions can easily fix the world’s problems.

College students today seem particularly likely to be swayed by politicians and their solutions to society’s problems. We directly experienced this at Trinity last year when Senator Bernie Sanders spoke on our campus and an auditorium filled with Trinity students – who had no prior political interest or knowledge – cheered and shouted for universal healthcare. Though my fellow Tower writers and I are not likely to be riled up at a Bernie rally, we might be by a Chip Roy, Ted Cruz, or Rand Paul event. I will admit I have thought a number of times that if Ben Shapiro could be president, all would be well in the world. We can support political candidates and modern ideas, as long as we do not expect them to solve every problem. When we support candidates, we need to exercise a healthy distrust and remind ourselves that the combined wisdom of our ancestors is far more valuable than that of any politician.

Kirk warns us of this very issue. He says we need to be wary of “sophisters, calculators, and economists who would reconstruct society upon abstract designs.” We need to exercise a healthy distrust of our peers, professors, and politicians, whether they are right- or left-leaning, and instead let the past keep us skeptical of the future. The traditions developed over thousands of years are almost always better than anything “coffee-shop philosophers” could come up with in one lifetime, much less one brainstorm session.

In college, most of our full adult lives have not yet begun. We are deciding our world view, our religion, our political stance, where our priorities lie, what we live for, and why we live. We are also making very direct decisions in our personal life: what to study, whom to date, what we do in our free time, and whether we will be law-abiding citizens. When we make these decisions, we should have the vast and rich history behind prescription in mind. We should think about the traditions and institutions our ancestors have set in place, and remember that they are there for a reason.

We college students tend to think we know everything. But we need to remember Kirk, who says “it is perilous to weigh every passing issue on the basis of private judgment and private rationality.” Before we destroy some tradition, social construct, or institution, we should consider that it’s there for a reason.

As conservatives we need to follow prescription not just for the sake of being traditional. We need to gain an understanding of why we follow certain traditions, and why our ancestors set up society the way they did. For example, we need to know why we believe marriage is between one man and one woman, reasons that go deeper than just longevity. While we learn about prescription and the deeper meanings behind the social and political constructs in place today, we also need to check to make sure we are following them. When politicians, our professors, our peers, or articles we read suggest radical changes to our society, we need to exercise restraint as to stand firm in our beliefs and not be swayed by modern ideas.

Prescription is as if thousands of years of human history looked us in the eye and said “this is what I think is the best way to live your life. I have made plenty of mistakes so you can learn from them and live a better life.” We must live out or at least deeply consider living the way our history has prescribed.

CSG Hosts First Thomistic Institute Lecture

On Feb. 11, Trinity University’s Catholic Student Group (CSG) hosted Fr. Isaac Morales to give a lecture titled “What Has the Historical Jesus To Do With the Church’s Christ?”. Morales is a Catholic priest in the Dominican Order and a Biblical scholar who obtained his PhD in New Testament from Duke University.

The topic of Morales’ lecture was in response to historical studies of Jesus that sometimes lead Christians astray from their faith. In his lecture, Morales focused on explaining how learning about Jesus from a historical perspective can reveal and highlight the Christ of the Church.

Morales discussed the presuppositions in modern historical Jesus scholarship. The first presupposition arose during the Enlightenment when the idea of naturalism became popular and is the idea that miracles cannot exist and, therefore, Jesus’ miracles did not exist. Morales says this is the basis of how scholars approach Jesus today: if miracles do not happen, then the evangelists that wrote the Gospels made them up, and if the evangelists made up the miracles, they could have made up any parts of the Gospels. So, scholars take on the job of analyzing the Gospels and deciphering what actually happened and what did not.

Morales explained that people losing their faith after learning of minute discrepancies between the Gospels is a result of not taking a nuanced enough approach. For example, each of the Gospels gives an account of the Last Supper, however, each account varies just slightly from the other. Morales explained that the authors had no way to record their experiences directly, so they could only give the gist of the event. Furthermore, while recounting events, each of the four authors shapes the significance of the events. Morales suggests that we analyze and compare the specific themes, rather than the specific details.

Morales outlined the arguments we have for Jesus’ baptism by John, that Jesus has twelve disciples, that the miracles happened and Jesus’ preaching on the kingdom of God. Morales cited many Old Testament passages, the majority from the book of Isaiah, that prophesied what Jesus would do on Earth. “All of these different aspects of Jesus’s ministry – the baptism, choosing 12, the miracles, preaching about the kingdom – they all point to the fulfillment of these prophetic hopes,” said Morales.

Morales directly answered the titular question throughout his speech. “The bottom line for me is that historical Jesus studies has an important place in the intellectual life in coming to know Jesus, but it has a very limited role from the perspective of the Christian faith,” he said.

“If the Jesus of history is not something like what the Gospels say he was like, then Christianity is a sham,” Morales said. The historical Jesus serves an apologetic purpose; understanding that the Jesus of the Bible can be proven through historical scholarship is important, but for the purpose of backing up the faith that Christians already have.

Morales closed his lecture explaining that we do not encounter the Jesus of the Bible through historical reconstructions, but through “the authoritative texts written by his disciples and the sacrificial meal that he left us on the night before he was betrayed.”

Alex Jacobs, events coordinator for CSG, saw great value in the event. “Trinity can gain the understanding that an intellectual understanding of Jesus does not lead one to skepticism but rather leads them to faith,” said Jacobs.

CSG will be hosting another lecture through the Thomistic Institute with Dr. Alexander Pruss of Baylor University addressing the question “Does God exist?” The lecture is Monday, March 4 at 7 pm in Northrup Hall 040.

Photo by Maddie D’iorio.

UT Federalist Society Hosts Campus Free Speech Symposium

On Jan. 26, the Texas Student Chapter of the Federalist Society, an organization of conservative and libertarian lawyers and law students, hosted a “Campus Free Speech Symposium” at the University of Texas (UT) School of Law in Austin, TX. Judges, professors and free speech advocates spoke on panels discussing free speech on college campuses.

The first panel was about the “Chilling Effect and the Suppression of Student Speech.” Nicky Neily, the president of Speech First, an organization dedicated to protecting students’ right to free speech on college campuses, addressed college speech codes in which terms such as ‘unwelcome’ or ‘offensive’ speech are ubiquitous. These codes shift the questions from “what was said?” to “is someone offended?” In response, students tend to censor themselves in order to avoid potential sanctions. Neily criticized how colleges are teaching students to tattle when they are offended instead of addressing the issue themselves. “What’s happening on campus isn’t staying on campus, and that should bother us,” said Neily.

UT Professor of Philosophy Tara A. Smith explained that speech regulations are illegitimate because “no language is inherently offensive” and it is impossible to define offensive speech because ‘offensive’ is fundamentally subjective. Smith also claimed limits on speech are ineffective because they cause self-censorship, which “treats symptoms but not the disease.”

“Silenced ideas do not dissolve … they persist.”

UT Professor of Philosophy Tara A. Smith.

UT Law Professor David M. Rabban disagreed with Smith’s First Amendment absolutism and expressed his belief that there is “some speech that could be regulated on a campus but not in the public square.” Rabban is comfortable limiting speech he finds “unnecessary to the expression of ideas.” As an example, Rabban suggested that for a student to make a claim such as “homosexuality is a disease” is fine, but to call another student a crude name which makes fun of homosexuals disrupts learning and is okay to limit. Neily said she understood Rabban’s concern but is “distrustful of any administrator having the power to draw that line.”

Ken Paxton, the Texas Attorney General, gave the keynote address. Paxton praised the Federalist Society for its work defending the Constitution. As a twist on the popular saying, ‘I may disagree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it,’ Paxton claimed the Left is now saying “I disagree with what you say, and I will fight to the death for my right not to hear it.”

The next panel focused on the current state of free speech on university campuses. Neily explained how campuses silence students not only with direct speech regulations, but also by imposing extra fees and security expenses on ‘controversial’ speakers, not recognizing certain student groups, and much more. “Campus free speech is the most important issue in America today” Dr. Thomas Lindsay, the director of the Center for Innovation in Education for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, said. Lindsay believes students are being silenced by “those with stronger vocal cords, those better at intimidating other students.”

Photo by Julia Westwick

Mr. Hiram Sasser, the General Council for First Liberty Institute, spoke with Aaron Streett, the chair of Baker Botts’ Supreme Court and Constitution Law Practice, and University of Virginia School of Law Professor Douglas Laycock about religious liberty and associational rights.

Streett and Laycock discussed at length the Supreme Court case Christian Legal Society (CLS) Chapter v. Martinez, in which the University of California Hastings College of Law would not recognize the CLS chapter as a student organization because it required students to hold certain Christian beliefs, and California law requires student organizations to not discriminate based on status or beliefs. The Supreme Court held that the CLS’s First Amendment rights were not violated because the law was viewpoint neutral.

“Many laws are neutral in their face but are not neutrally applied,” said Streett. Laycock supported Streett’s comment, adding that many groups impose certain exclusions, but conservative Christian groups are disproportionately attacked by campus administrations and in court.

There were approximately 30 people in the audience. The symposium was open to all members of the community. The audience was mainly comprised of young professionals and many Federalist Society members. Four students from Trinity University’s chapter of The Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) were in attendance. Isaiah Mitchell, chairman of Trinity’s YCT chapter, said he was “surprised to learn that Texas campuses are so restrictive when it comes to speech codes. It’s just one more example of how our state isn’t as free as outsiders think.”

Also in attendance was Ashley Vaughan, Communications Director of YCT’s state board. “As a recent UT [alumna], it’s very encouraging to know there are ongoing conversations about free speech on campus. Free speech and the ability to openly debate are essential to a healthy university campus,” said Vaughan.

Raymond Zavala Aspires to “Fight the Good Fight” in SA City Council

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.”

Abbott Sets SD 19 Runoff Date for Sept 18

Governor Greg Abbott announced today the date for the runoff in the emergency special election runoff for Senate District 19. Election day will be September 18, with early voting running from September 10-14. This runoff will fill the seat previously held by the former state senator Carlos Uresti (D).

Former Colonel Game Warden and Republican Peter Flores came in first in the special election held on July 31. Pete Gallego, a former one term Democratic Congressman from TX 23, finished second. Flores and Gallego are battling to replace Uresti, who resigned in June after being convicted of 11 felonies.

On Aug. 10, the Republican Party of Texas (RPT) filed a lawsuit challenging the residency of Gallego. RPT Chairman James Dickey claims it is “common knowledge Gallego does not live in Senate District 19” and explains that Gallego has “for years lived with his family in Austin.” It is a state constitutional requirement that a candidate for the Texas Senate must live in the district he or she runs in for at least a year before the election. However, residency claims are particularly difficult things to contest in court given vagueness in state law.

Gallego’s wife, an attorney who practices primarily in Austin, claims a homestead exemption on a home she owns in Austin. State law only allows a person to claim one homestead exemption.

On Aug. 13, RPT attorneys requested a Temporary Restraining Order to keep the Texas Secretary of State from certifying Flores and Gallego for the runoff election. Dickey explained “Pete Gallego lives in Austin with his family, receives a homestead exemption there, and has twice sought loans from federally insured banks on his [Austin] house.”

Christian Archer, Gallego’s campaign manager, responded to the RPT lawsuit, focusing on Gallego’s property in Alpine (within SD 19). Archer asserted that Gallego “has lived in Alpine since 1989… [he] is registered to vote in Alpine, where he has always voted, and where he pays his utilities.” Furthermore, Archer claimed the RPT lawsuit to be “a desperate move on behalf of a failing campaign.”

Flores won 34.4% of the votes in the special election, while Gallego earned 28.9%. Flores came out ahead, but he was the only major Republican in the race. The Democratic vote was split mainly between Gallego and State Rep. Roland Gutierrez (D, HD-119), who received 24.4% of the votes. SD-19 has always been represented by a Democrat. However, the fraud convictions surrounding the resignation of Uresti and the mystery of Gallego’s true residence might be the perfect storm for a Flores victory next month.