Rebecca Viagran and Shirley Gonzales will leave City Hall this week as the city’s longest-serving councilwomen in recent memory.
Viagran and Gonzales, who represent the mostly Hispanic South and West sides, will resign on Tuesday after reaching the City Council’s maximum term limit of four two-year terms.
It is unknown what their political future will bring.
During their eight years on council, the two women forged political identities centered on bringing more public and private dollars to their districts — some of the city’s poorest areas, the result of historic discrimination against communities of color, which has resulted in high poverty rates and inadequate public infrastructure.
“(Gonzales) has been able to extend the notion that doing well for folks in a place like (the West Side) is truly doing well for the city,” said Patti Radle, a former West Side councilwoman and outgoing board president of the San Antonio Independent School District.
Gonzales and Viagran aren’t going away quietly. Gonzales chastised a North Side councilman last week for rejecting a housing development on the city’s majority-Black East Side, accusing him of “blatant bigotry.”
A councilman from the North Side objected to the city’s subsidies for small enterprises.
When another North Side councilman objected that city subsidy for small businesses would benefit white men less than women and people of color, Viagran responded that she wanted she could offer even more.
Gonzales has made little secret of her desire to run for mayor, while she has stated that she would not challenge Nirenberg, who easily won re-election to a third term in May. Nirenberg would be mayor until 2025 if he wins a fourth term.
“Waiting four years in politics is a long time,” Gonzales remarked. In the meanwhile, she’s considered running for county judge and county commissioner. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, who has held the position since 2001, has stated that he will not seek re-election next year.