District 9 seat to be replaced by man with ties to highway firm

Link to article here.

Louis Rowe’s wife works for Carter Burgess, a well-known highway engineering firm that has lobbied for toll roads. The highway lobby will stop at NOTHING to ensure the citizens voices are drown out by private interests!

District 9 candidate list whittled down to 2
Laura E. Jesse

After seven hours of interviews and much deliberation Saturday, a panel of District 9 community and business leaders selected two people to recommend as Councilman Kevin Wolff’s interim replacement.As its first choice, the panel of eight selected Louis Rowe, president and CEO of Goetting & Associates Inc., an engineering consulting firm. Rowe also sits on the board of the San Antonio River Authority.

The second choice is Jane Fritz, director of client services for the law firm Pritchard, Hawkins, McFarland & Young. Fritz most recently was the community coordinator to promote San Antonio as the future site of the National Bio- and Agro-defense Facility.

The final choice, though, is up to the full City Council, which will more than likely vote on the replacement to fill his unexpired term in January.

Wolff said he is officially resigning his North Side council seat later this month to run for the Bexar County Commissioner Precinct 3 seat being vacated by Lyle Larson.

“Between now and the time I leave office, this person is going to be attached to my hip,” Wolff said. “Legally, council decides who that person will be. But I hope that the rest of the council will see this particular process and the work that we do here as valid and take the person we find.”

Wolff has asked people interested in the job to shadow him at City Hall on a Wednesday or Thursday to get a feel for how the meetings run and the time commitment involved.

Being able to fulfill the time commitment obviously was a big issue for the panelists, too. Each of the seven candidates was grilled about being able to devote the majority of their time to council work as Wolff noted that in his first full term his office logged 30,000 e-mails, 8,500 phone calls and attended 2,200 meetings.

But with Rowe, the biggest issue could be a potential conflict of interest with his wife’s employment at Carter Burgess, which would prevent him from being able to vote on some large projects such as the San Antonio International Airport expansion and potentially on portions of the San Antonio River Improvements Project.

Rowe said he would avoid even the appearance of any conflicts of interest by recusing himself from discussions and votes involving the city and Carter & Burgess, a consulting firm for engineering, construction management and planning.

“It seems to me Louis brings in more credibility,” said Ken Villano, former president of Citibank in San Antonio. “But every time he chooses to recuse himself, there will be an impact on the district by not being represented.”

Yet, his experience with SARA, the Alamo Area Council of Governments, the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and several charitable organizations prevailed. It didn’t hurt that he said he would carry out the agenda Wolff has set for the district.

“I would sit down with Kevin and say, ‘OK, what are the projects we need to keep on track,'” Rowe said. “And then I would ask what we need to get done over the next 18 months that hasn’t been started.”

Fritz also said she would follow Wolff’s path and try to keep the district’s interests in mind while working across the dais on city projects.

“I get a sense that the biggest challenge as a city council person is to realize it takes a consensus to achieve anything,” she said. “The council as a whole is representing the city. If you hold fast to what will benefit your district and not the whole city, you won’t get anything done.”