The front steps of City Hall were filled with Mayor Ivy Taylor supporters Friday afternoon as former County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson endorsed Taylor for a full two-year term. Taylor faces former state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in a June 13 runoff after a tight finish in the May 9 General Election.
Van de Putte finished first in a crowded field of 14 candidates, but only 2% separated her and Taylor, setting the stage for a runoff election too close to call, in the opinion of most seasoned political watchers, with three weeks remaining before the final vote. In the first round, Van de Putte had 25,982 votes, 30.43%, while Taylor had 24,245 votes, 28.40%. Former state Rep. Mike Villarreal had 22,246 votes, 26.06%. Adkisson had 8,344 votes, 9.77%. The other 10 candidates for mayor accounted for the remaining 5.4%.
Adkisson's endorsement of Taylor did not come as a big surprise to political observers, even though he and Van de Putte share closer ties within the Democratic Party. In other ways, his "back to basics" platform more closely resembles Taylor's priorities. Villarreal has not made an endorsement of either Van de Putte or Taylor and has not publicly stated whether either candidate has sought his endorsement, or if he is contemplating offering it.
Van de Putte received the powerful, but divisive San Antonio Police Officers Association's endorsement in March. Soon after, the police union ceased negotiations with the City, and some see that endorsement as a political gesture aimed as much at City Manager Sheryl Sculley as the mayor. More recently Van de Putte also received the endorsement of the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association, and organization that for more than one year has refused to even come to the table for contract talks with the City. Taylor had said at the outset she would not seek or accept endorsements from any organizations with pending business at City Hall.
Van de Putte has said the endorsements have come with no strings attached, and no promises made or inferred.
“Anybody who says that I got this because I promised something; they don’t know Leticia and they weren’t in the room,” Van de Putte said during a recent mayoral debate. “I am proud to have the endorsement … it’s based on two decades of working with me. I didn’t make any promises.”
At any rate, with both camps assembling long lists of endorsements, the runoff outcome probably will depend more on who can turn out voters. City elections are non-partisan, but Van de Putte has held office as a Democrat for many years and is seen as more liberal, while Taylor, who has voted as a Democrat, is seen as more socially conservative, most notably with her "no" vote as a city council member on the Non-Discrimination Ordinance, which as mayor she has pledged to uphold. After her decision last August to withdraw the City's support of the VIA streetcar project, she also has been seen as more fiscally conservative and less downtown-centric. Her attention to comprehensive planning in the city's sprawling suburbs also gives her greater appeal on the Northside.
Adkisson said he is confident that Taylor is the candidate that can bring collective bargaining talks to a successful close, while supporting his "back to basics" priorities of neighborhood infrastructure and public safety.
"It really isn't an easy decision when you have friends on different sides," Adkisson said. He said Taylor will be a "stay at home mayor" whose political ambitions do not reach beyond San Antonio – a reference to Van de Putte's failed bid for the lieutenant governor seat last year.
"When the cat's away, the mice play," he said. "I know that she will not be gallivanting around."
"An important link is the diversity of thought – not in ethnicity alone but the diversity of thought," he emphasized.
Taylor committed to supporting Adkisson's priorities if elected.
"Those things that he talked about (during his campaign for mayor) resonate with me," she said. "To ensure that we have strong neighborhoods throughout our city, to ensure that our citizens have confidence in our government, that they know that we're focused on those priorities ... especially for those areas of town that have been ignored and neglected in the past."
*Featured/top image: Mayor Ivy Taylor and Tommy Adkisson embrace on the steps of City Hall. Photo by Iris Dimmick.