Monday, April 20, 2009

Questions every tech advocate should ask our San Antonio mayoral candidates......

As the May 9 mayoral race approaches, we have had the candidates embrace everything but technology in an open forum meeting. From press reports, there have been presentations on the military, the environment and transportation, to name a few special forums for our mayoral candidates. Even Tom Orsborn, the San Antonio Express News sports writer, has interviewed the leading candidates on their opinions about the growth of sports in San Antonio.
However, we haven't had our mayoral or the City Council candidates together to discuss the growth of technology in San Antonio. As a city who fostered the growth of military aviation in 1910 and the development of the heart stent processes, our city is filled with pockets of technical innovation. Yet, sadly the issue of technology development is not an issue in this 2009 election.
And, you can't blame the current technology leadership, because it isn't in place. Some of our current leadership say they believe that the San Antonio Technology Accelerator Initiative is doing a great job of promoting technology. However, how can you take this organization seriously when its chief executive officer once spoke to a major tech group two years ago and talked about technology innovations not associated with our city? And, as a gag, he gave away tickets to the Spurs-Lakers playoff game who correctly guessed the year that IBM developed the main frame computer. At the time I won them, I thought that somehow this city funded organization was given a couple of extra seats to the 2007 Lakers-Spurs playoffs. Instead, they were for the Hickam Spurs and Pearl Harbor Lakers.
San Antonio has two mayoral candidates who embrace technology. Notes colleague Alan Weinkrantz, the "dean" of technology PR types in San Antonio in his blog on why he endorses Castro: "Julian represents the next generation of our great City. I have a personal theory that as the economic recovery takes place, we are going to see companies re-thinking their expansion and re-tooling plans. I really think San Antonio is on the verge of an economic and intellectual renaissance."
Trish DeBerry doesn't have an online blogging endorsement that I could find. However, I noted this comment from John Dickson, the former president of SATAI. from Nside magazine.
"Trish's use of sophisticated social networking tools and her online presence sends a message - San Antonio's future growth is tied to its knowledge workers," said Dickson in the article. "As the only small business person in this race coupled with her knowledge of the technology community, I believe Trish is the best candidate positioned to lead San Antonio in pursuit of new economy jobs."
While I respect Alan and John's comments about Castro and DeBerry, I would like to set up an online forum of questions about about technology in our community. If the folks at MYSA could pull this off, here's some questions I would like to see answered by those seeking office as our mayor.
Question 1: What can San Antonio do to attract more technology based businesses? (Note: if any serious candidate believes that SATAI is doing an effective job, you can count of losing my vote.)
Question 2: What kind of educational initiatives do we need to build the base of workers that technology company need to succeed in our city? Here, I believe we are somewhat lacking in the development of programs that fast track our future work force.
Question 3: What can we do to develop partnerships with Austin, Houston and Laredo to develop stronger technology alliances with businesses and those communities? (Note: I am a board member of the Digital Convergence Initiative which brings together Austin and San Antonio technology leaders.)
Question 4: How can businesses work with our universities to help build new technologies? From talking to several technical leaders, it's somewhat impossible to quickly transfer some great ideas developed in our academic arenas.
Question 5: How can we help our city develop civic pride in our technology successes?
If you care about technology and you are at a mayoral forum, please ask the candidates these questions and send their responses back to this blog. Or, if you work for a candidate for City Council or mayor, please feel free to respond to my questions. As there isn't enough time to coordinate an appearance either in person or online, this blog could serve as a starting point for the discussion of which future mayor and City Council members understand the technology issues that face our city.

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