For what it’s worth, I was and continue to be a strong supporter of Mike Villarreal, and proudly served in his campaign as treasurer. But in the runoff, San Antonians have to choose between interim Mayor Ivy Taylor and former state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte. It’s not even a close call in my mind.
Van de Putte is a major concern for our City on the police and fire contracts, and she continues to talk out of both sides of her mouth on this issue. She refuses to say she will support continuing the lawsuit filed by the City of San Antonio on Nov. 7, 2014 that challenges the constitutionality of the collective bargaining agreement’s Evergreen Clause; a little understood clause that remains in effect for 10 years if not challenged and changed. It was a terrible mistake to give the union such a concession, and the time is long overdue to address the problem. Addressing this impediment to good faith bargaining is the only real strategic advantage the City has in the negotiations.
One of Van de Putte’s prominent supporters gave her the chance to put her position in writing for the Wednesday Morning Breakfast Group, a gathering that for many years has been attended by many of our city’s business leaders with a deep commitment to this city’s growth and prosperity. It’s a regular stop for those seeking office. In her statement, Van de Putte talked around the issue, which even her supporters in the group conceded as much.
Furthermore, Van de Putte has misrepresented her position on the property tax bill that Villarreal filed and won passage of in 2013. She was one of only three members of the Texas Senate to oppose the bill. She issued a statement at the time, which made clear her reasoning: Members of the Bexar County Commissioners Court didn’t want the bill passed because it would lower the county’s tax collections. Villarreal’s bill lowered taxes for homeowners by giving them greater leverage in challenging evaluations. Check Van de Putte’s statements today to see how they differ from when her “no” vote was cast.
Mayor Ivy Taylor, in my view, has done a good job, especially as the interim mayor before she entered the race. I hated that she broke her promise not to run, but Van de Putte’s promise not to run was even more egregious in that she accepted a $25,000 contribution from Mike’s House account (which he had to either return to contributors or give to a statewide candidate) and had a major news conference announcing that she would not run for mayor “under any conditions.”
On top of that, Van de Putte’s attempt to transfer $300,000 from her state campaign accounts was a blatant attempt to skirt the City’s campaign finance and spending rules, which are pretty black and white. She backed off only after being challenged and the matter became a potentially damaging issue.
The NDO was a tough vote for Ivy. Although I disagreed with her decision, she “voted her district,” as many on City Council do from time to time when it seems to many of us that a broader, citywide view would be better. The streetcar project, as presented by VIA Metropolitan Transit, was not a well thought out plan, and Ivy was dead right to help kill it. I think she could have handled the Uber issue better, but if elected, she is committed to revisit the issue using an advisory council that will include business leaders, the community and City Council.
Mayor Taylor does not have Van de Putte’s grasp of “retail politics.” She is not a politician at heart, but she will make a better, nonpartisan mayor and leader of City Council.
*Featured/top image: The crowd gathered in support of Mayor Ivy Taylor’s campaign to serve a full term as mayor. Photo by Iris Dimmick.