Nirenberg, Brockhouse Headed for Runoff in Mayor’s Race

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(left) Mayor Ron Nirenberg and opponent Councilman Greg Brockhouse will compete in a runoff election.

Composite / Edward A. Ornelas - Scott Ball

(left) Mayor Ron Nirenberg and opponent Councilman Greg Brockhouse will compete in a runoff election.

Many voters are experiencing déjà vu Saturday night as San Antonio heads into yet another fierce runoff election between two very different candidates for mayor.

Neither Mayor Ron Nirenberg nor Councilman Greg Brockhouse won more than 50 percent of the vote in Saturday’s election. Bexar County reported an 11.47 percent voter turnout, a slight increase compared to the last municipal election. Results of the entire election can be viewed here.

With nearly all the precincts reporting, Nirenberg led Brockhouse by more than 3,000 votes and 3 points, which was a slight increase from the early voting totals, but not enough to claim outright victory. Still, Nirenberg liked his chances in a runoff. Two years ago, he bested incumbent Mayor Ivy Taylor in a runoff after leading the Election Day vote.

“Every contested race I’ve been in has gone to a runoff,” Nirenberg said. “The union is going to double down on their guy. The community is going to double down on me. I like those odds.”

Taylor led the May election with 42 percent compared to Nirenberg’s 37 percent. Nirenberg cinched the runoff with 54 percent, but now he’s on the other side of incumbency. The City has set the runoff election for June 8.

Brockhouse was equally as confident saying he came into the election with momentum that continued through the night.

“Fifty-two percent of the city rejected Ron Nirenberg,” Brockhouse said. “For him [an incumbent mayor with previous experience on Council] to be in a runoff, I think is an embarrassment.”

Campaigning efforts intensified during the last couple weeks as it appeared the two frontrunners were in a closer race than many thought they would be when Brockhouse announced his candidacy in February.

Councilman Greg Brockhouse meets with supporters during his campaign party.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Councilman Greg Brockhouse meets with supporters during his campaign party.

Voters faced a clear choice between Nirenberg, who is widely considered progressive, and Brockhouse, who leans conservative. Nirenberg’s campaign messaging focused on maintaining the momentum established in his first term on ambitious long-term planning efforts aimed at tackling some of the City’s toughest challenges – housing, transportation, and climate change – while Brockhouse focused on picking those efforts apart as overspending initiatives that were sending the City in the wrong direction, disconnected from the residents.

However, Nirenberg’s campaign mailers attacked Brockhouse personally and focused on two domestic violence incidents involving Brockhouse, as outlined by a San Antonio Express-News report. Brockhouse has denied any wrongdoing and was not arrested or charged in those cases.

Brockhouse’s campaign materials and debate talking points highlighted Nirenberg’s votes against lowering the City’s property tax rate and removing Chick-fil-A from an airport contract as “anti-faith [and] anti-business.”

Brockhouse said Saturday he thinks Nirenberg will continue his attacks in the weeks leading up to the runoff.

“When you’re desperate you’ll do anything to win when you’re that type of politician that Ron Nirenberg is,” Brockhouse said. “I’m not that type of politician. I’ll take Ron to task for his failed leadership, about his lack of accomplishment and the things he’s done in City Hall – which amounts to about zero. … I’m not going to attack him as a man or as a father or as a person. I’m not going to do that.”

Edward Ornelas for the Rivard Report

Mayor Ron Nirenberg greets supporters, Saturday May 4, 2019, at Augie’s Alamo City BBQ Steakhouse.

Nirenberg defended his first term on Saturday saying his work was just beginning.

“You know, I hear the criticism from my opponent that this work is incomplete,” Nirenberg said Saturday. “You can’t build a house without laying a proper foundation. We’re building the foundation for the future, he’s building a house of cards.”

Nirenberg’s wife, Erika Prosper, also took aim at Brockhouse during Nirenberg’s watch party – describing Brockhouse’s campaign as a “long con.”

“The long con that makes you believe that a man who has spent his life dedicated to helping others, which is the true Christian way, is somehow not [a Christian],” Prosper said. “[San Antonio], I hope we understand that we are smarter, better, and more united than any con artist.”

Brockhouse cited Erika’s comments as further evidence of desperation.

“You can keep going into the gutter and you can keep attacking me personally,” Brockhouse said. “I’m talking about San Antonio and its future. … The majority of San Antonians rejected Ron Nirenberg. They are looking for something different – I just have to make the argument now that that different is me.”

In the next month, Nirenberg appears more financially suited to make a strong final stretch. From March 26 to April 24, Nirenberg’s campaign raised $103,561 more than Brockhouse’s, according to the most recent campaign finance reports filed. Nirenberg reported $131,536 in monetary donations compared to Brockhouse’s $27,975.

Nirenberg also had more cash to spend this week with nearly $88,000 cash on hand. Brockhouse reported almost $11,500, but the police and fire union political action committees also spent money on Brockhouse’s behalf. Before he was elected to represent District 6, he worked as a political and marketing consultant for both public safety unions.

It was unclear how much was spent on Brockhouse specifically, but at least $15,838 was spent by the fire union PAC on field workers and advertising for him. PACs are not required to file reports as frequently as local candidates.

“Look I think it’s an unprecedented assault from the two unions,” said Kelton Morgan, Nirenberg’s campaign manager. “Both of them, the two unions, essentially paid for [Brockhouse’s] entire campaign in terms of the advertising that they’ve done. We expected this, we expected it to be close, that their spending was going to have an effect, and it has. But we’re still confident that when all is said and done that Mayor Nirenberg still comes out on top.”

Nicholas Frank contributed to this article.

24 thoughts on “Nirenberg, Brockhouse Headed for Runoff in Mayor’s Race

  1. Pathetic turnout again. We badly need to have our city-wide votes moved to November of even-numbered years.

  2. The news is that turnout is 11% of eligible voters…city elections need to be sametime at federal and state elections….with such a low turnout, Mr. Brockhouse got a runoff, a significant accomplishment, especially for a challenger. excellent work by Brockhouse campaign in holding Nirenberg accountable for votes on Alamo Development, Airport Concessions contract, Sculley contract, GOP convention bid which demonstrated the lack of transparency in city government…city council more responsive to staff than to citizen constituents.

  3. Nirenberg is hardly progressive with his disdain for the firefighters union. I don’t care for Brockhouse, but at least we know where he’s coming from!

  4. Ron Nirenberg nearly lost the election. That tells me the citizens of our community are not happy with his leadership.

    I believe to for transparency at city hall. We voting for Greg Brockhouse.

    • I don’t agree with your view. The majority of people in San Antonio have Not spoken, yet. The current mayor is a much better choice to lead the city, and will succeed despite the ill intended tactics of the 2 unions.

  5. 88% of eligible voters stayed home. 88% of San Antonio went shopping, took kids to soccer, clocked in at their job, played golf, mowed the lawn, got their hair done…but did not vote. 88% turned their “choice” over to someone else because…? That right there is THE story Bob Rivard. Democracy and civic engagement is at its lowest, and why?

  6. Brockhouse only knows how to be against true civic leadership. He is under the thumb of union officials and would represent San Antonio poorly on the state and national levels. Nirenberg has earned a second term. Most of the returning incumbents and new council members will work well with him.

    • We haven’t had civic leadership. Nirenberg lacks transparency to citizens. SA is seen as an intolerant city where businesses cannot expect fair play….based on the uninformed whims of council and the mayor. Due diligence and understanding the RFP process are important if you are a council member or mayor! SA has already been represented poorly on all levels. Policies are not well thought out-giving tax abatements to come to the Pearl area? Subsidizing expensive condos downtown? Tax abatements that will have to be made up by the ‘regular’ taxpayer…the list goes on…the ‘regular’ taxpayer is tired of it all.

  7. Don’t vote against the city’s best interests. Brockhouse has zero qualifications to guide this city into the future. People keep saying “no transparency.” I have six emails in my box this week asking for citizen input on a range of city efforts. Did any of you attend any citizen input sessions on anything? Did you talk to your city council person on any of the subjects you are railing about? Most people I talk to who gripe about “transparency at city hall” can’t even tell me who their councilperson is or if they know, have never communicated with them. So keep the focus on who has the most experience, the best training, the most qualifications to get this city through the biggest population growth in the past century. Nirenberg.

    • Agreed! Brockhouse doesn’t say anything about what he plans to do, let’s hear some policy plans from him.

    • I have attended meetings…the one that stands out was for a city non-profit whose members were council persons. It was as if they didn’t care that citizens were even there–we had to request-several times-that they speak up so we could even hear them, it was unorganized and some of the council didn’t know what was being discussed. There was no agenda shared with citizens–there wasn’t an agenda to speak of as far as we could see. The city had no legal representation at the meeting and simply went along with what the other legal counsel suggested–much to our dismay!

      If you look at the schedule of meetings they are not conducive to ‘regular taxpayers’ attending them. Perhaps they should be held when people can attend, provide free parking to attend the meeting, provide an agenda and minutes to those who attend, provide copies of documents you are looking at during the meeting-and a website where citizens can see them.

      Even our city council person often does not know about things we ask about–especially with zoning issues. Why doesn’t the council person know what is going on in his own district-who is not informing the council person…and why?

      As far as I can tell neither candidate has urban planning experience or training. Nirenberg experience is running a university radio program at Trinity University; Brockhouse as an advisor to public service unions. It’s who is advising them that I look at –Nirenberg is a city insider guy–and they are responsible for the unfettered growth-including clear cutting huge swaths of land, lack of infrastructure for new growth, lack of vision for housing and displacement… leading to lack of advancement for SA as a truly viable city for business. Just keep building and getting those taxes-when you’re not giving abatements-I don’t see Nirenberg being able to stand up to the insiders.

  8. Agreed. The voter turnout was embarrassingly low. It’s also tough to remember that unions are largely looking out for *themselves*, especially when people still generally consider police and firefighters “the good guys.”

  9. One of the replies to this Rivard Reports commends the City for promoting citizen input.

    I am disappointed with the City citizen input meetings that I have attended over the years. The City input meetings, that I have attended, have not been a sincere effort to engage the public. Perhaps they are a required formality-of the City Manager.

    I hope that the new mayor, and City Council members, hold the new City Manager accountable for properly engaging the public. A way must be found for public feedback on the City Manager’s job performance.

    I have not decided on my vote for mayor.

  10. The 2 unions have funded much of Brockhouse’s campaign. WHY? Because he will give them anything they want even if it hurts our city financially. He was their PR man. He worked for the unions.

  11. Conservatives have targeted city and school boards to reverse progress and roll back inclusive policies for decades. They know their days are numbered at the federal level and, to a lesser extent, the state. The community supports Nirenberg, but most of us just stayed home. (I voted!) Conservatives showed up in higher numbers. They’re motivated by hatred of change. Let’s not let them take control of our beautiful city.

  12. Brockhouse cracks me up, in a sad way I guess. He says the Chic-fil-A business was anti-faith. For the record, the restaurants are a public place. The business has gone on record disenfranchising a significant part of our society. Brockhouse claims the stance of protecting our population and visitors from irrational discrimination, something Jesus certainly wouldn’t do and our constitution prohibits, as ‘anti-faith.’ It’s more anti-Trump than anything, a breathe of fresh air.

    • CFA does not discriminate-it hires and serves all. There was no disenfranchisement, but there was irrational discrimination on the part of the council and mayor. The RFP process is intended to put all competitors on an equal standing…CFA was an approved vendor according to the RFP process.


  14. Brockhouse claims 52% of the electorate (which was only 11% of the electorate in this election) didn’t want Ron. Uh, Brocky, do some math here:
    Brockhouse got 45.6% of the votes.
    Ron got 48.7%.
    The other candidates got a total of 5.7%.
    That means 54.4% of “the electorate” wanted anyone but Brockhouse as mayor.

  15. It was a tough choice, because both candidates have different strengths & distinct perspectives on pressing municipal issues.

    In the end, I decided to endorse Mr. Brockhouse. The Ckick-fil-A issue tipped the scale for me.

    It sets a dangerous legislative presedent when a few council members are willing to elevate their personal agendas and opinions above the Constitution, as expressed in the First Amendment.

    If Congress does not have the authority to pass any “law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”, it was extremely misguided & arrogant for the city council to try to punish Ckick-fil-A just because they disagreed with their view on same-sex marriage.

    I hear a lot of talk about San Antonio being a welcoming city. How about laying out the welcome mat for Chick-fil-A.

    Or do we only welcome those that believe the same as we do? Doesn’t sound very “inclusive” to me.

    Somehow, we have to do our best to live together, despite our differences, rather than trying to punish someone by circumventing their Constitutional rights.

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