The city’s Charter Review Commission, tasked with debating changes to San Antonio’s City Charter that could go before voters in November, recently ended six months of work by slamming the door on citizen input.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg kick-started the charter review process last November with instructions to focus on a narrow set of items. The process that followed included public meetings where residents and community organizations shared ideas and recommended proposals to be included in the slate of charter changes. But the final set of revisions neglected to consider those ideas.

On May 21, Charter Review Commission co-chairs Bonnie Prosser Elder and David Zammiello concluded the commission’s work by pointing to Nirenberg’s directions to the commission that it should “focus its efforts exclusively” on his list of potential changes and saying there wasn’t enough time to fully assess the public’s ideas. Which brings the question, why bother with the public input sessions in the first place?

While the Charter Review Commission should be commended for the long hours spent interviewing, researching, and discussing proposals, we should have had the benefit of this work applied to more than a narrow set of issues.

On January 11, three days after the charter review committee convened its first public meeting, I sent a memo to the mayor asking that the committee consider changes to the City Charter where it limits “city employees’ rights and ability to freely and fully participate in municipal elections in their own time and with their own resources. The more than 13,000 City of San Antonio employees should have the same right to participate in the municipal election process as every citizen of our city.”

The mayor responded that the issue could be taken up by the City Council when it met to create the official charter amendment ballot propositions. But the narrow focus of the Charter Review Commission prevented real discussion of items outside of its predetermined scope.

Let’s not forget, the charter changes will ultimately end up in the hands of voters. Why not give residents the opportunity during the open discussion process to weigh in on the rights of municipal workers to have political freedom? Our city employees directly impact the services we receive, and San Antonio should be looking for ways to increase, not restrict voter participation.

The voices of all residents who submitted ideas for charter amendments should be heard, and the Charter Review Commission’s hamstrung inability to consider public proposals is a missed opportunity for meaningful reform that would lead to increased civic engagement.

I am committed to standing up for openness and fairness — whether it be for firefighter contract negotiations or the charter review process — and I urge my Council colleagues to fully consider items not included in the final list of recommended charter revisions, especially those that lift political activity restrictions. It’s the least we can do to foster trust and transparency at City Hall.

District 6 Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Havrda is the current Chair of the City Council Public Safety Committee and the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.