Skip to main content

A Democrat that appear to be not beholding to special interests won the recent mayors race. As acting mayor Ivy Taylor turned down the Police Union endorsement while the city was trying to renegotiate a new Police contract. She also help the east side, predominately black side of town of SA with more infrastructure investments and better schools. 


Taylor became the first black person elected mayor in a city that is majority-Hispanic. Van de Putte would have been the first Hispanic woman to win the job. 


The Anti-Castro

Taylor in Austin on November 22, 2014.

On October 30 San Antonio’s new mayor, Ivy Taylor, stood behind a lectern at Club Giraud, a private dining club situated downtown on the banks of the city’s famous river, and faced a crowd of business leaders. Only hours before, Taylor had pushed through a unanimous city council vote to build a $3.4 billion pipeline that will bring water from Burleson County, 140 miles away, to San Antonio. For more than thirty years, a long line of mayors had promised to secure a supply of water for San Antonio, which has drawn exclusively from the diminishing Edwards Aquifer. All of them failed. Building on the work of her predecessors, Taylor corralled the votes and received the credit.

 “I must tell you that I feel the weight of history tonight,” said Taylor, who was dressed in a white suit and stood straight on tall heels. Her dark hair was neatly cut into a chin-length bob, and a gold cross studded with small diamonds hung from her neck. The only line on her smooth face was the crease of a broad smile. “At long last, we have gotten this done.” 

History is very much on Taylor’s mind these days. When JuliÁn Castro resigned as mayor last July to become U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the city council chose Taylor to serve out his term. In that moment, Taylor made history as San Antonio became the largest city in the United States ever to have a black, female mayor. Her appointment defied the demographics of the city, which is overwhelmingly Latino and only 7 percent black. She was chosen in part because she vowed not to run for mayor when her brief term ends next summer. However, soon after she took the oath of office it became clear that Taylor sees herself as a player, not a placeholder. Six days into the job, she made headlines when she reversed Castro’s decision to support the local transit agency’s ambitious plan to build a downtown streetcar system. Opponents of the streetcars, many of them Anglos who live in plush neighborhoods north of the city, argued that money should be invested in expanding the city’s highway system, not in public transportation in the city’s center. Taylor’s position signaled her willingness to align herself with conservative business leaders, even though she is a Democrat.

In October Taylor made what is, arguably, an even bigger move: she backed away from her definitive position on not running for mayor. “It wasn’t my intention to run,” she says. “But I am thinking seriously about it. I’ve received a lot of support and am considering it.” Much of that support has come from the mostly Anglo business community. Billionaire Red McCombs and energy magnate Bill Greehey were among the sponsors of the $500- to $1,000-per-person dinner at Club Giraud, which pulled in $60,000 for Taylor’s officeholder account. 

When Taylor raised the possibility of running, she probably assumed that her most serious opponent would be Democratic state representative Mike Villarreal, who made his mayoral intentions known in May. Villarreal, a local son who was the first in his family to graduate from college and has a masters in public policy from Harvard, likely would have been an unbeatable opponent in a city dominated by Hispanics. But in November things got interesting, when state senator Leticia Van de Putte, fresh from her defeat in the lieutenant governor’s race, announced that she would run for mayor as well. 

Historically, mayoral elections in San Antonio have been contentious fights between Hispanics and Anglos, most of them San Antonio natives with insider status. Taylor, by contrast, is black; she was appointed rather than elected mayor; and—perhaps most important—she’s not from San Antonio. She’s not even from Texas. She’s from New York City, a place as temperamentally different from San Antonio as one could imagine. 

Late on a recent morning, the 44-year-old mayor sat at a table in city hall and described her background and how she got to Texas. “I was born in Brooklyn, but I grew up in Queens,” she said. Neither of her parents went to college, and they divorced when she was a child. “It was a very strict upbringing. My sister and I weren’t allowed to wear slacks; we didn’t go to movies or listen to secular music. Our life revolved around the church.” She went to public school, where she excelled before entering Yale University, from which she graduated in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in American studies. Later, she received a master’s degree in urban planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In the summer of 1997, while a graduate student, Taylor accepted a ten-week internship with a coalition of affordable-housing organizations in San Antonio. She attended church services at the Greater Corinth Baptist Church on the East Side, the city’s predominantly black neighborhood. On her first visit to the church, a man named Rodney Taylor sat in the pew in front of her. After the service, he leaned over and asked her to lunch. They dated that summer, married two years later, and eventually settled on the East Side. By then she had taken a job as an urban planner in a small department at city hall that encouraged inner-city development. Six years later, she moved to a nonprofit affordable-housing provider. She also volunteered with the city’s planning commission and served on the board of a homeless shelter. As the years passed, she developed a base of support, and in 2009 she was recruited by East Side leaders to run for the city council: she had the right credentials (an Ivy League degree), the right message (economic development), and the right style (consensus building). She won the election by 54 votes in a runoff. 

During her five years as a council member, she took two controversial stances that demonstrated her instinctive nonpartisanship and her social conservativism. In September 2009 she lost a fight in her own district when her fellow council members, led

by Castro, voted against her recommendation to deny a zoning request for a one-hundred-bed halfway house on the East Side. Taylor supported the point of view of black residents who argued that halfway houses are invariably located in minority districts. A majority of the council gave more weight to the testimony of Catholic nuns and progressive Anglos.

Then, in 2013, she was one of only three members of the council to vote against a nondiscrimination ordinance that would protect lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people. When criticized, Taylor said, “I will not sacrifice my core values and beliefs for political gain. And if that was the expectation for me as a black woman, you’ve got the wrong sister in this seat.” 

Asked what she learned from the zoning controversy, Taylor offers an answer slightly more pointed than the usual boilerplate. “I didn’t do my own lobbying, and I misjudged the lack of loyalty of my fellow council members,” she said. “Ordinarily, the position of the council member in whose district the case resides is supported by the other members. That didn’t happen in this case.” And while Taylor has given assurances to LGBT leaders that their voices will be heard at city hall and has convened a committee to implement the ordinance, she has not changed her position. 

“People assume that because I’m soft-spoken and appear timid, I am hesitant to lead,” said Taylor. “But that’s not who I am. I’m not timid and I don’t go along. I don’t have time to be timid. I want to get things done.” Taylor is aware that her subdued style is distinct from that of her predecessor, a dynamic figure with a national profile whose three terms as mayor resulted in significant job creation, development of downtown San Antonio, and a pre-K education program.    

After the frenzy of the Castro years, the sense in many quarters is that San Antonio needs a less partisan mayor, someone who stays close to home. “I want to keep the political drama down,” said Taylor. “I’m a planner by trade. I like the analysis and details of local government. I don’t much like politics.” Her goal for the six months she has left in her term is to stick with bread-and-butter issues: balance the city’s budget, resolve a long-standing dispute with the city’s police and fire unions, and expand Castro’s education initiatives. 

In that respect, Taylor, should she decide to run, would offer a record free of partisan fracases and therefore a different choice from Van de Putte, a leader of the Democratic party, or, to a lesser degree, Villarreal, who has out of necessity worked closely with Republicans in the House but identifies first and foremost as a liberal Democrat. Given the city’s demographics, either of them would be the clear favorite in a race against Taylor. 

But there is a long-shot scenario that might convince Taylor to run, in which Van de Putte and Villarreal split the Latino vote and Taylor, buoyed by heavy Anglo and black turnout, prevails. And San Antonio’s Latino community does seem puzzled about whom to support. One well-known local academic reports that he recently had lunch with a Latino district judge, and when the academic leaned across the table and asked, “Are you going with Leticia or Mike?” the judge shook his head and said, “I’m giving money to both of them.” 

Such ambivalence on the part of local Hispanics may prompt Villarreal and Van de Putte to spend most of their time and energy going after each other. If that happens, Taylor shouldn’t be counted out. After all, she isn’t an outsider anymore. She’s the mayor.

Last edited by Momentum
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Taylor's San Antonio Win a Wake-Up Call for Democrats

San Antonio Mayor-elect Ivy Taylor
San Antonio Mayor-elect Ivy Taylor

How did a Brooklyn-born city planner who has never run for partisan office beat a nearly lifelong San Antonio Democrat in the race for the top job in the liberal-leaning Alamo City?

On Sunday, the day after Ivy Taylor narrowly defeated former state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte for a full term as mayor of San Antonio, answers to that question varied dramatically. But even Van de Putte's supporters, who played witness to her second high-profile loss in seven months, were sounding the alarm that the outcome spelled more doom for Texas' beleaguered minority party. 

"It ought to scare every Democrat in Bexar County," said Christian Archer, Van de Putte's campaign manager. "If you're a Democrat and in Bexar County, you better wake up." 

"We keep putting the blinders over our eyes and saying, 'Oh, no, no, no, it'll go away.' And it's not going away," added Archer, a veteran of San Antonio mayoral politics. "What's not happening is the kind of turnout that we need."

Taylor's side, meanwhile, was basking in the glow of a hard-fought victory it considers representative of a sea change in city politics. 


"It's a new day in San Antonio," Taylor strategist Josh Robinson declared Sunday, saying the election proved San Antonio is more of a "purple city" than most Democrats assume. The outcome, he added, showed that the "old way of doing things didn't work anymore." 

The outcome was also historic: Taylor became the first black person elected mayor in a city that is majority-Hispanic. Van de Putte would have been the first Hispanic woman to win the job. 

To be clear, Taylor — the interim mayor and former councilwoman — was never seen as a long shot. Van de Putte was never considered unbeatable either, though her homecoming was premised on the idea that the mayoral race would be less of a climb than the lieutenant governor’s contest she lost to Dan Patrick in a landslide last year.

Taylor's strength, meanwhile, was expected to come from a Republican-leaning coalition of voters looking to move the city further away from the era of her predecessor, Julián Castro, a period marked by an activist city government and bright national spotlight.

Van de Putte’s campaign worked hard to undermine that coalition. The candidate zeroed in on a report that Taylor and her husband were unwilling to pursue charges after a shooting at his bail bonds business, hoping to spook law-and-order voters backing Taylor. Van de Putte trotted out endorsements from elected officials representing Taylor’s native East Side, looking to cut into Taylor's most oft-cited base of Democratic support. And at one point, a mailer surfaced that cut straight to the chase, calling Van de Putte the most conservative candidate in the race.

But none of it was enough to counteract Taylor’s crossover appeal, anchored in the chorus that Van de Putte was a career politician simply on the hunt for her next job. Both women had initially denied interest in the race, but it was Van de Putte who did so while campaigning for lieutenant governor, just two years after running for re-election to the Senate — a sequence Taylor's campaign was happy to point out.

"She didn't know what she wanted to be when she grew up," Robinson said. 

Van de Putte's campaign saw a "baked-in" number of voters who largely agreed with that kind of message — that she was a partisan Democrat. To overcome that built-in disadvantage, the campaign figured it needed 40,000 to 45,000 votes to be cast on Election Day.


As results started coming in Saturday night, her campaign was confident it could reach that goal and erase a roughly 5-point lead held by Taylor in early voting. But as the night wore on, that possibility faded away, and with all precincts reporting by 11 p.m., the total number of ballots cast on Election Day stood at just over 33,000.

By the time Van de Putte took the stage at her campaign's West Side headquarters, it was clear the disappointing turnout was on her mind. She mentioned the need to "improve our voting rates here in San Antonio," drawing loud applause. Asked after her remarks how different the outcome would have been had more people shown up at the polls, Van de Putte told reporters San Antonio voters have to "do really, really, much, much better," particularly when it comes to turnout among young people. 

“At the end of the day, we needed 3,000 Democrats to get off their asses and go vote, and they didn’t," said Colin Strother, a Democratic consultant who had worked for the fourth-place finisher in the first round of the race, former Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson. "And that’s the story of our life in Texas politics, is that Democrats could elect anyone they wanted to any position — statewide, local, you name it — if they would get off the couch and go vote, and they don’t do it.”

But it was not just lower-than-expected turnout that hurt Van de Putte, according to her backers. She was up against a woman who had galvanized the city's social conservatives through her opposition to a nondiscrimination ordinance in 2013, and the city's fiscal conservatives through her decision to effectively kill a plan to build a streetcar system downtown.

Led by Justin Hollis — the GOP strategist who engineered Will Hurd's successful challenge last year to U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine — Taylor's team insists her coalition was broader than one ideology or party. But it was Republicans who were the most energized Sunday, claiming a renewed ally in the seventh-largest city in the country — and a key gateway to politically ascendant South Texas. 

"There's no doubt that Ivy has turned the era in San Antonio politics that we haven't seen in my lifetime," said Robert Stovall, chairman of the Bexar County Republican Party. "This is what Republicans are typically so happy to get, which is good leadership and good government. This is a nonpartisan race, and she was a nonpartisan candidate."

Weston Martinez, a conservative leader in San Antonio, said Taylor's win was "delivered by the social conservatives, evangelicals, Protestants and Catholics," groups encouraged to see she "doesn't leave her faith at the door when she goes into the mayor's office." More broadly, though, he said her victory chips away at the presumption that big cities are hotbeds of solidly Democratic leadership.  

"If you're not all-in liberal, you can't be elected" in a major city, Martinez said. "She just broke that mold." 

Van de Putte's campaign had expected Republicans to factor prominently in the race, though Archer said Sunday the campaign may have underestimated the extent of that support. The GOP, he added, "want San Antonio to be a battleground, and they're working hard at making that happen."

It was the type of possibility Van de Putte raised herself the same night state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer lost the runoff for her Senate seat, according to the latter lawmaker. Martinez Fischer, who was defeated in February by then-House colleague José Menéndez, had fallen in the crosshairs of Texans for Lawsuit Reform, a powerful tort reform group that attacked him in an effort to drive up GOP turnout.

"I remember her saying, 'This could very well happen to me,'" Martinez Fischer recalled.

Yet he is not ready to draw broad conclusions about the fate of his hometown's Democratic Party. While the mayoral race was "a little bit of deja vu all over again," he said it provides a moment for reflection, not alarm. 

"Of course voter engagement can be better, but this isn’t the end of the world for Bexar County Democratic politics," Martinez Fischer said. "I will measure the future of the political party during a partisan race, and this clearly wasn’t one of them, but it was a clear example of voters needing to be a little more informed about candidates who hold themselves out as Democrats but run with Republicans." 

Now social conservatives are looking to Taylor to see how her outreach to them translates into a full term at City Hall. Claiming victory late Saturday, Taylor thanked God and wasted no time reminding supporters her work begins Monday.

"The conservatives came together," Martinez said Sunday, "and now we get to see how she governs with a victory under her belt versus an appointee. It should be a very different mayor’s office."

Last edited by Momentum
Originally Posted by NSpirit:
Basically a black conservative? Impressive but is it meaningful for black progress? I need to go back and reread this again.

Yes black social conservative, she supports Choice, a woman's choice for abortion, she is not a big social conservative but not beholding to special interests, liberal or conservative. She will not jump on every liberal bandwagon like LGBT issues but she does not ignore minorities and she stands up against special interests too. She turned down Police endorsement for example. 


She delivered for blacks who have been ignored in SA for decades, to me that what is important.


She is not politically tribal. 

Last edited by Momentum
Originally Posted by NSpirit:
Basically a black conservative? Impressive but is it meaningful for black progress? I need to go back and reread this again.


I've seen absolutely nothing "conservatives" have did for black progress, especially where the Neo-Cons of today are concerned, in fact they have actually did everything in their power to dismantle any and all progress Black people have made in this country.

Originally Posted by sunnubian:
Originally Posted by NSpirit:
Basically a black conservative? Impressive but is it meaningful for black progress? I need to go back and reread this again.


I've seen absolutely nothing "conservatives" have did for black progress, especially where the Neo-Cons of today are concerned, in fact they have actually did everything in their power to dismantle any and all progress Black people have made in this country.

What is so conservative about her?

Let me say, San Antonio is very Latino dominated city. Heck white people can't win in SA.


I see her as an average Democrat on the issues. If you feel that she is conservative in the politically classic sense, Sunnubian then you must really dislike Obama he is as conservative as most Republicans and from an economic policy sense he is just as conservative as any.


Let me add Obama with TAA Trade Adjustment Assistance that lost in the House would have taken 700 million from Medicare that is just as nasty a conservative can be. TAA was to help US citizens who lost jobs because of TPP, instead of making the Corporations pay for it Obama was going to raid Medicare.


But on Tuesday, senior and provider groups started criticizing the proposal. They're unhappy because about $700 million of the $2.9 billion cost would be offset by increasing the cuts to Medicare authorized by the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration in fiscal year 2024 by 0.25 percent, according to a Congressional Budget Office score of the House bill.

Last edited by Momentum

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.