Rivard Report file photos
The last time Mayor Ivy Taylor was on the ballot, the acting mayor won her first full term in office in 2015 by defeating former State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in a runoff by a 4-point margin, 52%-48%. Van de Putte recently endorsed Taylor for a second full term.
Councilman Ron Nirenberg (D8), first elected in 2013, served as the chairman of the committee that directed the mayor’s signature SA Tomorrow initiative, but he now is seeking to do what has only been done twice in the last 25 years, and that’s unseat an incumbent mayor. By doing so, the two-term councilman will give up a third term serving the fast-growing northwest district that includes the South Texas Medical Center and the University of Texas at San Antonio.
It wouldn’t be a mayor’s race in San Antonio without a third candidate spoiler, and this time it is Bexar County Democratic Party Chairman Manuel Medina, who has never held elected office and is largely unknown to many city voters. Medina, who referred to himself as “financially and politically independent” at his campaign announcement, has proudly touted his party affiliation at other community and campaign events, despite city elections being nonpartisan.
All three will come together on stage Tuesday at the Pearl Stable from 6:30-8 p.m. for a San Antonio Mayoral Town Hall Debate organized by the Rivard Report and moderated by Robert Rivard.
A number of civic and neighborhood organizations invited to participate in the town hall format will have a representative in the audience to pose a question to the candidates. Other questions from the public and audience members will be invited via Twitter. The event will be live-streamed on the Rivard Report Facebook page.
“I’m looking forward to talking with voters about the progress we’ve made, our future challenges, and my vision of making San Antonio a city where everyone has the opportunity to get ahead,” Taylor said Wednesday. “Strengthening our basic services, including streets and drainage, parks and senior centers. Attracting and retaining good jobs, and teaching 21st-Century skills to our young people and unemployed or under-employed workers to end generational poverty. Taking on violent crime so we can feel safe in our neighborhoods. These are the reasons I’m asking voters for another term.”
The town hall will begin with each candidate delivering a five-minute opening statement. After initial questions from Rivard, he will call on individuals in the audience and representing the various civic and neighborhood groups to ask a question. Each candidate will have two minutes to respond. The moderator will ask a follow-up question if necessary to clarify responses or differentiate positions among the candidates.
Some time will be reserved for questions other audience members post on Twitter, using the hashtag #SAtownhall2017. Each candidate will be given two minutes to deliver a closing statement at the end of the 90-minute debate.
“I am excited to have this opportunity to put ourselves before the public in the most open and transparent way for a civil, substantive discussion of the issues,” Nirenberg said Tuesday. “This will allow voters to cut through the campaign rhetoric and bombast and see firsthand where candidates stand.”
The event is open to the public, but tickets will be required due to the limited size of the venue, which holds 400 people. Follow this link to reserve your spot. General admission is standing-room only, but Rivard Report members and others requiring accommodation can reserve seating by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. Participants can make a suggested $10 donation in support of nonprofit local journalism and future community engagement events when reserving tickets or at the door.
Each of the three campaigns is being provided with 25 tickets.
“I’m looking forward to meeting everyone and sharing my vision ‘S.A. Today.’ This unique Town Hall setting will present voters with the opportunity to weigh in with questions,” Medina said Wednesday. “It will require candidates to be candid and concise with their answers. And it will lead to a more informed electorate as we approach this year’s municipal elections.”
The Pearl is a sponsor of the San Antonio Mayoral Town Hall Debate.