SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg on Tuesday made his position known regarding Proposition A in the May 6 election.
“I am encouraging voters to do their research before they go vote and then join me in voting against Prop A,” Nirenberg said Tuesday on KSAT 12 News at 6.
If passed, Proposition A would decriminalize misdemeanor marijuana possession. San Antonio police would no longer be able to cite or arrest people for misdemeanor amounts of marijuana possession -- up to 4 ounces. The proposition would also prohibit SAPD officers from using the smell of marijuana or hemp as probable cause for a search, except in some circumstances.
Nirenberg said Prop A is trying to solve problems at the wrong levels of government.
“We can’t legalize marijuana in the city. We just can’t do that,” he said.
The measure would also expand the list of crimes that fall under cite-and-release including thefts and criminal mischief with less than $750 in damages and graffiti under $2,500.
Nirenberg added that Prop A will ignore “victims (of crime), from small businesses to nonprofits, to really any working family who wakes up to a smashed car window.”
The mayor said that the courts have had success with diversionary programs that help low-level offenders avoid jail time.
“Voters need to know that our DA and courts have made great strides in reducing penalties and punitive measures for what most cases shouldn’t be a crime,” he said.
Ananda Tomas, executive director of Act 4 SA, says a citation doesn’t eliminate arrests but gives the judges discretion to find a suitable punishment on a case-by-case basis.
“It is just a citation to appear in court. This does not mean that you do not face repercussions for your actions, whether you go to jail or you go to a diversion program, or you show up to court, and they drop your marijuana possession,” Tomas told KSAT.
The other centerpiece of Prop A is the section on abortion that would prohibit SAPD officers from investigating, making arrests, or otherwise enforcing “any alleged criminal abortion.” The only exceptions would be in instances where a pregnant person is coerced or forced or in cases involving conduct that’s criminally negligent to the health of the pregnant person seeking care. San Antonio appears to be the first Texas city to attempt to decriminalize abortion through a ballot initiative.
Nirenberg said that the San Antonio City Council recently passed a resolution supporting women’s reproductive rights.
“We need to work at the state level to get those rights restored,” he said.
An anti-abortion group tried to get the Texas Supreme Court to step in and force the proposed charter amendment to be split into multiple ballot propositions and to delay it until the November election. However, the court ruled on March 17 that Prop A would appear as a single ballot measure in the May election.
A coalition of public advocacy groups, including ACT 4 SA, gathered more than the 20,000 required signatures to get the proposed amendment on the May ballot.
“They never should have gotten this far with this type of petition that had everything in it but the kitchen sink. Go back to the drawing board, separate the items, and then take it to the community and let the community decide what they want to do,” said Eddie Aldrete, co-chair of San Antonio Safe.
Officials who spoke with KSAT say it’s crucial to read the proposition carefully and understand it before voting.
WATCH THE FULL KSAT Q&A WITH MAYOR NIRENBERG
You can take a look at the full sample ballot for the May 6 election below: