SA City Councilwomen advocate for gender diversity on boards and commissions


SAN ANTONIO - San Antonio’s City Council is set to make a big decision Thursday about CPS Energy’s newest finalist for its Board of Trustees.

The three councilwomen are sounding off because the all male board nominated Dr. Willis Mackey.

Their hesitation isn't based on his qualifications, but more about the lack of gender diversity on the board.

"We are, want something different for our city," said District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales.

All three women who sit on San Antonio's City Council have concerns about CPS Energy's Board of Trustees nomination Dr. Willis Mackey.

"I cannot at this time support the candidate," said District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran.

The first finalist, a woman, withdrew to accept another job.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg is on the all-male board that selected the former Judson ISD Superintendent from remaining candidates, seven of whom were women.

"Dr. Mackey rose to the top for his professional background, his work with the school districts here. He's a sought after, very credible professional," Nirenberg said.

The councilwomen are advocating for gender diversity in the appointments of all city boards and commissions.

"We strive for gender diversity, which also means gender can't be a disqualifier for the most qualified candidate," Nirenberg said.

"We had qualified women as part of the process," Viagran said.

"This idea that somehow the existing candidates were not qualified is just not a good excuse and we're tired of hearing that," Gonzales said.

Ana Sandoval says more effort should be placed on expanding the pool of female applicants.

"It is extremely important to have women at the forefront not only for creative ideas but for healthier outcomes," explained Sandoval.

In a statement CPS Engery says "We still have a diverse candidate in Dr. Willis Mackey, and we believe he is a strong nominee with expertise to serve the San Antonio community."

Mayor Nirenberg says the council is working on an initiative to enhance diversity for appointed positions.

It's a welcomed plan for the councilwomen, who say the city loses when qualified women don't make the cut.

"It definitely sends the wrong message that even when you are qualified, and even when you live in the district, even when you've served your community, you're still not good enough," Gonzales said.

CPS Energy will soon begin the search to fill another upcoming positon.

Leaders with the utility company say they welcome help from the community to identify a diverse pool of candidates.

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