Helotes News sends interview questions to the candidates via email. Publish the interviews in the order in which we receive them. We email all candidates at the same time. Please view the Helotes News Election Center 2021 for a log of our out-going initial emails to candidates.
Helotes News: How long have you been a resident of Helotes?
Matthew Merchant: My family and I have been residents of Helotes since 2013. We moved here for many reasons, but the number one reason was family. I had retired from the Navy in 2012, my wife who also served on active duty in the Navy had an opportunity to move to the San Antonio area. I have three children from a previous spouse who lives here in Helotes. We did some research and couldn’t have made a better decision to move to Helotes.
Helotes News: What do you enjoy about Helotes?
Matthew Merchant: We enjoy the quaintness. The people are very friendly here. We enjoy Old Town and the feel of coziness from the businesses and the friends and neighbors who frequent them. I enjoy the history of Helotes as the Gateway to the Hill Country and all that has transpired at Floore’s!
Helotes News: What frustrates you about Helotes?
Matthew Merchant: That I have so many choices for chicken, car wash’s, and auto parts. I had no idea that there was such a market for these three items in our town.
Helotes News: Are you currently employed? If yes, with whom?
Matthew Merchant: I am a Health Science Teacher with Northside ISD. I am certified in 7-12 Social Studies and 6-12 Health Sciences.
Helotes News: If you are not employed, are you retired, a business owner or financially independent? n/a
Helotes News: What is/was your professional background before you were added to the ballot?
Matthew Merchant: I am currently on my third career as a teacher. I joined the U. S, Navy at age 19. I retired with 20 years of service in 2012. I then worked as a Surgical Technologist for a major hospital system here in San Antonio while I worked to achieve my B.A. from UTSA. Upon graduation, I changed careers in 2019.
Civic Engagement & Community Events
Helotes News: Tell us a few things about how you are involved in our community.
Matthew Merchant: I have coached Youth Basketball at the YMCA for the past four years. I am currently coaching youth flag football for the Under Armor “Under the Lights” organization.
Helotes News: What events have you attended in our city?
Matthew Merchant: Just about every Fourth of July celebration behind City Hall. We really enjoy going to Helotes MarketPlace. We enjoy Cornyval, and the Miss Helotes pageant. We have attended many O’Connor sports events from swimming and diving, and football. These are great events and good family fun that help to ensure the great cozy feel of our town.
Helotes News: What events do you support or think should be eliminated/reworked? Tell us why.
Matthew Merchant: My family and I support all of the above regularly. I would like to see the rules for holding MarketPlace reworked to be able to ensure that the event can continue. I believe there are some rules that say it can’t take place on public land due to the current COVID restrictions. This has had a major impact on the lives of people who are trying to have a “side hustle” and those who support the event. I would like to see “events” deregulated. I really miss meeting new people and interacting with the venders at this particular event.
Helotes News: Do you have any ideas about adding public spaces or additional community events to Helotes?
Matthew Merchant: Maybe not adding public spaces, but redefine how public spaces are used. Space (land) is at a premium. How it used, is also as important.
Helotes News: What is your primary motivation for seeking reelection/election to City Council?
Matthew Merchant: To bring a fresh perspective of the people to the Council. My position on the Council will be a conduit through which the people of Helotes can and will be heard.
Helotes News: As an incumbent, what is the primary argument you should be re-elected (includes those who were appointed to a City Council Place)? n/a
Helotes News: As a challenger, what is the primary argument you should replace the incumbent councilperson for your place?
Matthew Merchant: At this point in the race, my primary argument is to bring about new perspectives on current and old issues. As a student of history, I am a huge fan of Rousseau’s Social Contract theory – my interpretation – when the government does not serve the people as the people want, the people should vote them out in favor of new representation. I would like to be the new representation.
Helotes News: If re/elected to council, how will you approach decision making as one of five voting members?
Matthew Merchant: My approach will be to engage citizens for debate and feedback to make the best possible decision for our community. I will make decisions and serve the citizens of Helotes with honor, integrity, and transparency.
Helotes News: How will you engage citizens in the decision-making process, or will you?
Matthew Merchant: I think an underutilized form of communication in government is social media. The past four years have given many bad examples and possibly abuse of social media, but I am not a politician. Not many go looking to see what the issues are that their local government are currently dealing with or working on. If allowed, I will bring the issues to the citizens using a social media platform. Simple, easily accessible, allows for open debate with and between citizens, and allows for almost immediate feedback. I also plan to spend some regularly scheduled time at the various local coffee shops making myself available to all in a relaxed forum. Face to face conversations about important issues is very important to me.
Helotes News: How would you describe Helotes to someone who has never visited our city?
Matthew Merchant: In a sentence, we have small town feel with big city amenities! This a fantastic place to raise your children with outstanding fire and police professionals, despite the lack of competitive compensation. We have the absolute best schools with amazing administrators and teachers who make the education of our children their priority. Shout out to Kuentz Elementary, Jefferson Middle School and O’Connor High School! We could not have made a better decision to move to Helotes.
Helotes News: Do you view Helotes as a small town with small-town charm? Or, do you view Helotes as a small-town that has outgrown or is outgrowing that theme?
Matthew Merchant: My family and I have seen much change here in the last 8 years since we have lived here. Some good and some bad. I believe that this city is a reflection of the people in it, and not those at city hall. I have been to many Helotes events and have never met any city officials. That is not to say they were not present or approachable, but that I did not know who they were at the time. I have been to many of these same events and met many people, friends and neighbors; who to me are what the foundations of a community are. These people reflect what Helotes is all about, good-hearted, kind, and generous. Some of the people currently running our city have made, what I believe to be questionable decisions as to the “small town charm” of outgrowing that picture of our city, by allowing, let’s just say questionable businesses to be built – see question #3 – What frustrates me… I envision Helotes as an oasis, surrounded by an ever-growing metropolis. A place where the residents can live in close proximity to all the conveniences of big city life while retreating to the simpler life of our lovely, friendly, and cozy little community.