The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Candidates competing to represent San Antonio’s Southside in November

Candidates competing to represent San Antonio’s Southside in November - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

TX-35 candidate Greg Casar walks with San Antonio District 2 councilman, Jalen McKee-Rodriguez. (Photo courtesy of the Greg Casar for Congress Campaign)

Correction: April 6, 2022

Reporters reached out to both GOP candidates, Dan McQueen and Michael Rodriguez. However, due to a computing error, the invitation for an interview did not reach McQueen’s campaign. Both candidates will be contacted again for our coverage of the May 24 runoff. 

Multiple progressive Texas democrats pulled a series of unexpected wins in their respective democratic election races during the March 1 primary elections.

Among the winners was former Austin city council member Greg Casar, who took the definitive win in the Democratic race for Texas’s 35th congressional district.

TX-35, which spans from eastern Austin to southeast San Antonio, votes overwhelmingly blue, evident by polling data that revealed Casar earned roughly 20,000 more votes on March 1 than both of the leading TX-35 GOP candidates combined. 

Boundaries for Texas’s 35th United States Federal Congressional District. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

GOP candidates Dan McQueen and Michael Rodriguez will be heading towards the May 24 runoff before facing Casar in November in the general election. 

As of March 21, Neither GOP candidate has responded to the Mesquite’s request for an interview. 

Casar said on a March 7 phone interview he feels his seven years of work as an Austin city council member more than qualifies him for the congressional seat.

A member of the Democratic Socialists for America (DSA) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Casar won his race on a progressive platform seldom seen in Texas. 

Casar said his campaign is focused on tackling Reproductive rights, criminal justice reform and a $15 minimum wage are among other issues. 

“In regards to your student readers,” Casar said, “we are also pushing to cancel student debt and make college education free.”

Casar said he believes voters can “do so much better” in regards to his GOP opponents and their political agendas. 

Casar said he’s grateful to his campaign staff and volunteers who made his win on March 1 possible. 

Casar is favored to win the race for TX-35 on election day, Nov. 8. 

Uncontested candidates are on a collision course for supremacy in U.S House District 20. District 20 encompasses the majority of the west and north sides of San Antonio and on Nov. 8, voters will decide who will represent them.

San Antonio’s Joaquin Castro is the Democratic incumbent who has served as the District 20 U.S. representative since Jan. 3, 2013. Castro is seeking reelection against Republican candidate Kyle Sinclair. 

Sinclair, an Army veteran, and a former healthcare executive is seeking his first seat in public office and will attempt to turn District 20 red. He faces a big hurdle in this race as Castro has the incumbent advantage and is a homegrown product of San Antonio.

Neither candidate responded to The Mesquite’s interview requests.

Boundaries for Texas’s 20th United States Federal Congressional District. (Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Castro, a former lawyer, has served in public service since 2002, including as Vice-Chair of the Higher Education Committee and Chair of the International Development Committee

Castro currently serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the House Education and Labor Committee.

Castro calls for immigration reform and economic growth after the pandemic, stating on his website that families in San Antonio are “still struggling with rising costs” and that the failure to “pass comprehensive immigration reform is unacceptable.”

Sinclair says he would give “real representation” to his supporters. Sinclair calls for securing the border, reforming the tax system and preventing the government from controlling health care. 

Sinclair’s website further states that “Castro doesn’t represent [San Antonio], he represents the D.C. establishment led by his friends Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.”

Both congressional candidates made it through their primaries uncontested, and there will be no runoff election in June. They will face off in the general election in the fall.

Castro has reported $429,233 in campaign finances, with Sinclair’s data unavailable, according to Ballotpedia.

Sinclair is endorsed by U.S. Reps Chip Roy (TX-21) and Dan Crenshaw (TX-2) and state Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller. Castro has been supported by the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio and the Texas AFL-CIO state federation of labor unions.

The general election race ratings provided by the Cook Political Report, Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, and Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball show the race leaning solid Democratic.

Democratic candidate John Lira and Republican incumbent Tony Gonzales will be facing off against one another for District 23 in the November general elections. 

Lira is a San Antonio native who grew up in a working-class family. 

“We’re not an affluent family – to this day my parents still work every hour of overtime, you know, their employers allow them to,” says Lira.

Lira is an alumnus of East Central High School. In his senior year of high school, he enlisted in the Marine Corps, where he served eleven years and deployed twice to Iraq.

Upon completing his service, Lira earned an associate’s degree in paralegal studies from San Antonio College, a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and a master’s degree in public policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University in 2015. 

Lira’s master’s degree led him to Washington D.C., where he served in three federal agencies in a span of six years. This included Americorp, the U.S. Small Business administration, and the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service. 

Lira worked on the Inspire to Serve Act and worked as a “…legislative fellow” for California congressman Jimmy Panetta.

Lira notes that his interest in running for congress was initially sparked when Will Hurd reported his retirement in 2019.

“Will Hurd announced his retirement, it was my hometown district, so I said well maybe I should look back and see if I can leverage these experiences into serving my neighbors.”

Boundaries for Texas’s 23rd United States Federal Congressional District. (Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Lira went on to explain that he thought Democratic nominee Gina Ortiz Jones had the “…inside route…” and he instead wanted to support her in the 2020 general elections. 

“Unfortunately she did not win, fortunately for me, it left an opportunity for a democratic challenger in my hometown district,” Lira said

Lira now has to face Republican incumbent Tony Gonzales who took over office in 2021 after beating Gina Ortiz Jones and Libertarian Beto Villela with 50% of the vote.

Lira noted that Gonzales voted against the American Recovery Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. 

“…these would’ve been easy choices for me. I would’ve definitely supported that because a congressman’s number one goal over all of this is to make sure that he’s empowering the people and the communities in his district. That’s what it should boil down to, and in this instance, Tony Gonzales has directly voted against our best interests,” Lira said. 

Lira has received many national and local endorsements, including endorsements by Senators César Blanco and Roland Gutierrez, VoteVets, The New Dems Coalition, and San Antonio Stonewall Democrats.  

Lira went on to speak about prevalent issues in District 23 that his campaign has identified, including the scarcity of health options in the more rural parts of the district, border and immigration, and infrastructure. 

“Once you start getting out further, this rural medicine becomes very scarce. The facilities become fewer, the doctors that are attracted to work in these hospital and medical facilities become fewer as well.”

Lira said he wants to create a “…rural medical center of excellence…” that would collaborate with Fort Sam in order to bring a “…consortium of interested folks…” who would learn how to serve a rural district. 

Lira also identified border and immigration as an important issue that he said is “…five issues wrapped into one.”

Lira listed refugee asylum reform, the regular pathway to citizenship via program and pathway for dreamers, the work visa program, keeping a free flow of commerce, and infrastructure to prevent things like narcotics and human smuggling.

“As a congressman of Texas-23 with 800 miles of Texas-Mexico border, the biggest span of American border in this district – I will be right at the forefront of those conversations,” Lira said.

Lira also said infrastructure is an important issue that his campaign has identified. 

“There’s still some of the poorest communities out here that still don’t have wastewater collection canals, you know, these farms that still need irrigation – clean water.”

Lira went on to say that the district is in need of a visionary.

“We got rare earth materials like beryllium out here in Sierra Blanca, we have Blue Origin here, this is a district that’s prime for boom,” Lira said. “We can really thrive here, but we gotta have the right vision…”

Lira also went over the next steps his campaign has to take to prepare for the November election.

“We do want to have a plan to visit all 29 counties in TX-23, and not just to visit and meet with local leaders there, but we want to register voters,” Lira said.

He explained that they plan to register voters to give a chance to first-time voters and voters that would like to switch parties. 

Lira further explained that visiting voters is extremely important to his campaign. 

“…nothing’s as important as going down there to Tornillo in a house that has never been visited a democratic nominee in their life and going to shake their hand and say I’m here and it’d be an honor to have your vote…”

Lira noted that they will be putting money behind a “…good field campaign to get out the vote come November.” 

When talking about education, Lira said he would like more “pathways” that people can take aside from job or college, and free community college.

“…I think more pathways. I know education is not for everyone. But for those who want to pursue it, I think that community colleges should be absolutely free,” Lira said.

Lira spoke about student loan forgiveness, and expressed that it is a struggle that a lot of people deal with, including his wife, who is a professor with a P.H.D.

“People who wanna dedicate their careers to service to our country or to their community should qualify for loan forgiveness,” Lira said.

Lira spoke about rising educational costs, and that his campaign wants to “…get to the bottom of that.”

Lira also mentioned that inclusivity is important for college campuses.

“We want inclusive opportunities on campus. Inclusive admissions, representative admissions, and also making sure that you know – all students of all nationalities have opportunities to thrive on campus so that there’s no language barriers, no disability barriers, no gender or sexual orientation barriers to them fulfilling their education,” Lira said.

Lira expressed why he thinks voters and students at Texas A&M University – San Antonio should see him as a good candidate.

“A vote for John Lira is a vote for unity in this district, it’s a vote for advancement, it’s a vote for investment in the people and in our infrastructure…,” Lira said.“We want to return it to democratic representation not for the fact of me being a democrat, but just for the fact of bringing investment and unity and advancement to our district, and represent equality, justice, and treating people humanely – our neighbors humanely, you know. So that’s what I wanna bring, that’s my appeal to the young adults at Texas A&M University – San Antonio.”

Gonzales was reached for an interview but was unable to schedule before the publishing deadline of this article.

For more information on voting in Bexar county, visit

About the Authors

Gabrielle Tellez
Managing Editor
Gabrielle Tellez is a communications junior at Texas A&M University-San Antonio and Social Media Editor at the Mesquite, minoring in English studies and specializing in digital marketing. When she isn't writing witty captions for social media, Tellez flexes her creative muscles by creating digital art using the latest design software. Certified in marketing strategies and local tourism, Tellez hopes to pursue her passions without straying too far from her beloved home of San Antonio.
Daniel Chevez
Daniel Chevez is a communications major at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. He received his Associate of Arts from San Antonio College in May of 2020. He works as an account clerk at Alamo Colleges. He enjoys competition and exercising. After graduation, he plans to work in the field of media.
Emily Alvarez
Multimedia Editor
Emily Alvarez is a senior communication major and Multimedia Editor for The Mesquite at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. She received an Associate of Arts from Palo Alto College in May 2018. She is a full-time college student who loves to watch movies, listen to music, and play video games in her spare time. Upon graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in media writing, video editing or photography.

Join the Conversation

© 2024 Jaguar Student Media | Texas A&M University-San Antonio. All Rights Reserved. All Rights Reserved.
San Antonio Website Design & Development - Backyard Studios
Join Our Newsletter

Get the Mesquite News delivered straight to you.