Two local televisions stations have reported that Henry Munoz III, the controversial but highly influential chairman of the VIA Metropolitan Transit Board, plans to step down.
WOAI-TV and KABB-TV aired interviews Thursday night saying Munoz now plans to move on from the transit organization he has helmed for the past five years. No resignation date was mentioned.
It was unclear if Munoz has submitted a formal resignation to anyone at VIA. VIA spokeswoman Priscilla Ingle was not aware he had announced any plans to leave.
Munoz could not be reached for comment.
VIA trustee Lou Miller, reached by phone, also was unaware of the chairman's plans, though he had seen him at a committee meeting earlier Thursday.
"I was extremely surprised," Miller said.
Munoz had hinted last year he might leave the post early. An expert political fundraiser, this year he was named finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee, the first Latino to hold the post. Munoz also is CEO of an architectural firm.
Since he became chairman, VIA has moved forward with a $280 million downtown streetcar project, launched a bus rapid transit service and generally modernized what has long been a bus-only transit system. VIA also managed to secure millions of dollars in federal transportation grants during Munoz's tenure.
"There is no way that transit entity can get by without significant federal funding, and Henry made just great strides with that agency," Mayor Julian Castro told KABB.
But Munoz also has managed to draw controversy: In August, the Express-News reported that Munoz and his company owned property near the site of a potential streetcar line. An ethics attorney hired by VIA later cleared him of any wrongdoing, but Munoz decided not to vote when it came time to decide a streetcar route.
He remained a fierce defender of the streetcar plan, even as many people in the community questioned the project's high cost and even its purpose.
"If you could take the people of San Antonio and pick them up and show them the other communities that are currently planning streetcar, San Antonio's simply much farther ahead," Munoz told KABB.
Miller said the organization will continue to move forward.
"I can only imagine the VIA board will work quickly to find a new chairman," Miller said. "I would wish him well in his continued success as DNC chairman."
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