US State and Local Government for Emerging African Leaders

April 13, 2018


From April 4th - April 8th SACIV welcomed four International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) visitors from Africa to interact with local elected officials and learn about political integrity, immigration, ethnic diversity, and local election systems. Throughout their visit, the visitors were exposed to a wide variety of current U.S. social, political, and economic issues as well as the solutions that are being devised in San Antonio.


Discussions began by meeting with the City of San Antonio and CPS Energy managers and directors for sustainability programs, Eloisa Portillo-Morales and Kim Stoker. The two of them were able to describe the collaboration between local utilities and municipal government on issues related to energy policy and environmentalism.


Next, the four were able to meet with former mayor Ivy Taylor. They learned about how she got into public office and the issues she tackled once there. Her leadership experience was very valuable in outlining many of the issues encountered by local government. For higher levels of government, the visitors met with Senator John Cornyn's Regional Director, Jonathan Huhn, to talk about political, social, and economic issues writ larger at the national level.


The next day, visitors met with more representatives of local government. Laticia Vasek from the Office of the City Clerk and Richard Hernandez from the Office of Municipal Integrity spoke about the importance of accountability and integrity. They shared their experiences and best practices in promoting ethical local government through prevention, detection, and correction of employee misconduct in City departments. Later, Jacquelyn Callanen with the Bexar County Elections Department described in detail how tampering and unethical interference are successfully prevented in national, state, and local elections administered in Bexar County.


Talking with representatives from the Office of the City Clerk, the Office of Municipal Integrity, and the Bexar County Elections Department afforded members of this delegation insight into citizen and government accountability in a democracy. Sustainability specialists from CPS Energy and the City of San Antonio were able to talk about practical, economical methods for addressing global warming and human impact on the environment. Meanwhile speaking to Ivy Taylor and a staffer for Senator Cornyn approached democracy and government from a new perspective in which numerous issues relating to public safety, the peaceful transition of power, diversity, and social affairs could be addressed.

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