DALLAS — Proponents of San Antonio's $596 million general obligation bond plan set for a May 12 election will rely on citizen "bond ambassadors" to get their message across to voters.
Campaign manager Christian Archer said the Build SA Now political action committee has recruited some of the 128 citizens who served on last year's bond advisory panels to be community advocates of the public works proposals.
Archer said members of the committees that selected the street, drainage and other projects to be financed can better communicate the purpose behind the plan.
"It's tremendously effective," he said. "It is so much better to have these people explaining things than to have some politician saying, 'Vote for this.' "
A similar tactic proved successful in the 2007 bond campaign, which Archer also managed. "It's a big organizational headache, but it works," he said.
The five-part bond question includes $337.4 million for streets, $128 million for drainage, $87.2 million for parks and open space, $29 million for libraries and museums, and $14.4 million for public safety facilities.
San Antonio's $1.3 billion of outstanding GOs are rated triple-A by all three major rating agencies.
The city said approval of the 2012 bonds will not require an increase in the property tax rate.
No organized opposition to the 2012 bond package has surfaced, Archer said.
"These are meat-and-potatoes bonds — streets, drainage, libraries, fire stations," he said.
There was some initial opposition to the city bonds based on erroneous information that some of the proceeds would help finance a downtown streetcar project proposed by VIA Metropolitan Transit and Bexar County.
Most of that opposition evaporated when the City Council's election ordinance specifically stated that none of the proceeds would go to the streetcar project, Archer said.
"There are some people who have opposed everything for the last 20 years, but they're misinformed about the city's strong financial position and are not an organized bunch," he added.
Archer said while the streetcar rumors have died out, other pitfalls remain.
"My biggest concern now is the confusion over the party primaries," he said.
The primaries were slated for March 6, but legal disputes over redrawing Texas' congressional districts caused the party primaries to be rescheduled for May 29.
"The early voting for those primaries will begin two days after the city's bond election," Archer said. "The primaries are going to get most of the attention, and that means great potential for voter confusion."