For many of us, when it comes time to vote for politicians, we often don’t have the necessary information on a particular candidate to make an educated vote.  The purpose of this article is to inform you, from the Governor’s office on down, as to who voted for tolls and who voted against them.  In addition, we’ll inform you as to when they come up for re-election.  Then, come election day, you’ll have the information you need!

Governor’s Office
So let’s start at the top.  Rick Perry has led the charge in favor of tolls privatizing/leasing public highways to private, foreign investors and the Trans Texas Corridor.  He also advocates using public employee pension funds as investment cash for toll roads. In 2007, he also vetoed HB 1892, a private toll moratorium with teeth, and subsequently threatened repeated special sessions until he got the transportation legislation he wanted. The Texas Ethics Commission records show Perry has taken over $1 million in campaign cash from the road/toll lobby since 1997.  His term expires in 2010.

State Senators
Every State Senator voted in favor of market-based tolls in the Legislature in 2007.

The Senators in our area who voted FOR tolls were:

  • Judith Zaffirini (D)         State Senate District 21
  • Jeff Wentworth (R)        State Senate District 25
  • Leticia Van de Putte (D)     State Senate District 26
  • Carlos Uresti (D)          State Senate District 19  (though he subsequently voted against at local MPO)

State Senators serve four-year terms.  Texans will vote for half of them in November of this year (2008) and the other half in 2010.  Below is a list of the Senate Districts, the incumbents that will be on the ballot this November and their political party.  Remember, the incumbents voted FOR tolls:
  • District 4: Tommy Williams (R)  
  • District 6: Mario V. Gallegos, Jr. (D)
  • District 9: Chris Harris (R)
  • District 10: Kim Brimer (R)
  • District 11: Mike Jackson (R)
  • District 16: John Carona (R)
  • District 20: Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa (D)
  • District 21: Judith Zaffirini (D)
  • District 23: Royce West (D)
  • District 24: Troy Fraser (R)
  • District 26: Leticia Van de Putte (D)
  • District 27: Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D)
  • District 28: Robert Duncan (R)
  • District 30: Craig Estes (R)
  • District 31: Kel Seliger (R)

State Representatives
All but 19 State Reps voted FOR market-based tolls including Frank Corte (district 122). 

Of those 19 who said NO to tolls, 9 of them represent our local area.  These GOOD GUYS are:

  • Nathan Macias (R)         State Rep District 73
  • Trey Martinez Fischer  (D)     State Rep District 116
  • David Leibowitz (D)         State Rep District 117
  • Joe Farias  (D)         State Rep District 118
  • Robert Puente1  (D)         State Rep District 119
  • Ruth McClendon  (D)     State Rep District 120
  • Joe Straus (R)             State Rep District 121
  • Mike Villarreal (D)         State Rep District 123
  • Joaquin Castro  (D)         State Rep District 125

The State Reps outside of our area that voted NO to tolls (GOOD GUYS) were:
  • Lon Burnam
  • Garnet Coleman
  • Jessica Farrar
  • Stephen Frost
  • Ana Hernandez
  • Jodie Laubenberg
  • Sid Miller
  • Ken Paxton
  • Senfronia Thompson
  • Marc Veasey

By the way, those of you in State Representative District 122 should know that your “representative,” Frank Corte (R) is full steam ahead with tolls.  In case you’d like to contact him, his contact information is as follows:

2040 Babcock Rd, Ste 402

San Antonio, TX 78229
(210) 349-0320
(210) 349-0381 Fax
Send him an email

State Representatives will be up for election this November (2008).

San Antonio/Bexar County
Next we’ll move on to SAMPO. The SAMPO board consists of both local elected and non-elected members.  On December 3, 2007, they voted to approve the toll rates for the conversion of a FREEway into a tollway (on US 281) and to use an additional $112 million in Texas Mobility Funds (total $325 million) to toll 281 & 1604 (when they could have used those funds to keep them FREEways)! Of those that are elected on the SAMPO board, the following are in FAVOR of tolls:
  • Sheila McNeil – City Council District 2. She called the people on the north side of San Antonio “those people” who can afford the tolls while taking thousands in campaign contributions from pro-toll interests like Zachry and Red McCombs.  See what Ms. McNeil had to say about the people on the north side.   And as you watch the video, keep in mind that she’s currently the chairwoman (as of the date of this writing, July 2008) of SAMPO making billions of dollars worth of decisions.  Caution: Take your blood pressure medicine prior to watching it.
  • Diane Cibrian – City Council District 8. She campaigned as anti-toll and on lowering taxes but within 6 months of taking office, she voted FOR what will amount to the largest tax increase in Texas history, toll roads (according to a Bexar County Commissioner)! Currently, San Antonio Toll Party members are in the process of collecting signatures for a recall vote.  
  • Jack Leonhardt – Mayor of Windcrest. He claimed that he received 5,000 emails from people FOR toll roads and only a few hundred from people who were opposed; however, we can confirm that 1,200 emails from people OPPOSED to toll roads were sent using our email alias.  In other words, he lied to skew the numbers.
  • Sergio “Chico” Rodriguez – County Commissioner Precinct 1.
  • William Weeper – City Council Selma. He voted for the tolls claiming that he received more emails in favor of tolls than those opposed and was therefore “compelled” to do what the people wanted…to vote FOR a tax increase.
  • Lyle Larson – County Commissioner Precinct 3.  He has voted against tolls at MPO but began to flip-flop on his original stand by having an appointee that's voting pro-toll on the ARMA (tolling authority).  
  • John Clamp – City Council District 10. New member of MPO. Voted “yes” on some recent issues that would indicate a pro-toll position. (see SAMPO board meeting June 16, 2008 below)
  • Philip Cortez – City Council District 4.  Was a consistent "no show" for key votes even though he campaigned against the tolls. He has since resigned from the board.

At the June 16, 2008 SAMPO board meeting, the agenda included five proposed changes to the board’s by-laws that were viewed as controversial to those opposed to the tolling of hwy 281 (and other locally planned toll projects).  Near the beginning of the meeting, it was announced that the board had received 190 emails from (grassroots) citizens opposing the proposed changes (they said most of the emails were identical).  As a result, they voted to toss out two of the five proposed changes before getting started.  Hooray for the grassroots!

That left three items:
  • Quorum.  SAMPO is made up of 19 voting members, 10 elected officials and 9 non-elected.  The nine of course are pro-toll, that’s why they’re on there (they include people from TxDOT, VIA and other pro-toll arenas).  That means that any vote on pro-toll issues have 9 “yes” votes before they even start.  In the past, in order to have a quorum, at least half of the 19 voting members had to be there.  Of those, at least half of them had to be elected officials.  On June 16th, they changed that to say that half of the voting members had to be present as before, but now it doesn’t matter how many elected officials are there.  As long as 10 members are there, they have a quorum.  Remember, 9 members are already un-elected pro-toll voting members.  That means that as long as one elected member shows up, they have a quorum.  This almost ensures that most of the elected voting members won’t show up to controversial meetings where they’ll be called upon to cast a vote.  If the vote is pro-toll, all they have to say was, “I didn’t vote for that!”  Well, you’re right!  You weren’t there!
  • They voted to give the Chair broad unilateral powers to direct the Executive and Finance Committees instead of that power being vested in the entire Board as a whole. 
  • The MPO also approved language that paves the way to expand its boundaries to engulf the Hill Country in its jurisdiction, sure to cause a near riot once the citizens north of Bexar County catch wind of such a plan.

The Elected officials (GOOD GUYS) consistently against tolling existing roadways are:
  • County Commissioner, Tommy Adkisson – Precinct 4.  He’s a true advocate of mass transit and simple, affordable solutions. 
  • State Representative, David Leibowitz – District 117

Mayor Phil Hardberger is a huge proponent of tolls.  In addition, he wants to extend term limits for the mayor’s office and city council.  Term Limits have saved us billions.  Before Term Limits the average yearly City Spending Increase was 20% per year, while the average is approximately 8% per year after Term Limits, except for Hardberger's record of approximately 12% .

City Council members will be elected in May 2009.
  • District 1 – Mary Alice P. Cisneros.  
  • District 2 – Sheila McNeil PRO TOLL (Not eligible for reelection)
  • District 3 – Jennifer V. Ramos
  • District 4 – Philip A. Cortez PRO TOLL (Eligible for reelection)
  • District 5 – Lourdes Galvan (Eligible for reelection)
  • District 6 – Delicia Herrera (Not eligible for reelection)
  • District 7 – Justin Rodriguez (NO SHOW; therefore sat idly by and allowed tolls)
  • District 8 – Diane Cibrian PRO TOLL (Eligible for reelection.  She may run for mayor next May)
  • District 9 – Louis Rowe
  • District 10 – John Clamp PRO TOLL (Eligible for reelection)

County Commissioners will be elected in…
  • Precinct 1 – Sergio “Chico” Rodriguez (Running unopposed in Nov. 2008)
  • Precinct 2 – Paul Elizondo (Term expires in 2010)
  • Precinct 3 – Lyle Larson (Not seeking reelection in Nov. 2008. Two 'tollers' are competing for his office**)
  • Precinct 4 – Tommy Adkisson (Term expires in 2010)
** Kevin Wolff (voted to give taxpayer $ to pro-toll lobby group - SAMCO) and Chip Haas (voted pro-toll at MPO)

The election of Mayor of San Antonio comes up in May 2009.  

1State Representative Robert Puente retired in Feb. 2008 and was replaced by Roland Gutierrez (D) in May via a special election called for by Gov. Perry.  We don’t know as yet where State Rep. Gutierrez stands on tolls.

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