Taylor Becomes San Antonio’s First Elected Black Mayor

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Elected Mayor Ivy Taylor gives a speech at her election party. Photo by Joan Vinson.

Elected Mayor Ivy Taylor gives her victory speech during her election watch party on June 13, 2015. Photo by Joan Vinson.

Interim Mayor Ivy Taylor was the last candidate to jump into the race, had the least experience in elected office of the four major candidates, and was outspent at least 2-1 by runoff opponent and former state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte. None of that was enough to unseat her from the office she has held on an interim basis since last July when Julían Castro stepped down to go to Washington and join the Obama administration.

Taylor’s victory Saturday makes her the first African-American and only the second woman to win election to the mayor’s office in San Antonio, an outcome that will have analysts puzzling for some time in an increasingly majority Hispanic city. Ultimately, what they will conclude is San Antonio is two cities. The general population is minority-majority, largely Hispanic. The city’s voting population, however, is Anglo-dominant, older and more politically conservative than the general population.

With all votes counted, Taylor defeated Van de Putte 50,659-47,328, a 3,331 vote margin and good enough for a 51.70%-48.30% win, a 3.4% difference.

Taylor showed stronger on Election Day than predicted by Van de Putte supporters, who expected to lose the early vote convincingly and then make up the difference with Saturday’s turnout. Instead, Taylor won the early vote by less than some expected, but stayed strong on Election Day.

Taylor’s husband Rodney and daughter Morgan stood by her side as she gave her victory speech to an ecstatic crowd at the Wyndham Garden Riverwalk Hotel in downtown San Antonio.

“Y’all know me, I have to start out by thanking the Lord.” Taylor said.

Mayor Ivy Taylor was surrounded by her family as she gave her victory speech. Photo by Joan Vinson.

Mayor Ivy Taylor was surrounded by her family as she gave her victory speech. Photo by Joan Vinson.

She went on to thank her family, campaign team, and the people of “our wonderful, beautiful City of San Antonio.”

Referring to her victory over Van de Putte, Taylor said, “Do you realize that we have defeated a political machine? ”

At the end of her speech, Taylor said it’s time to get back to work.

“We’ve got to make sure that we ensure our fiscal stewardship and part of that is with our public safety unions. I think that we’ve got big challenges with issues like transportation.”

Although San Antonio’s economy is strong, Taylor said, “We’ve got to make sure that more San Antonians connect to that prosperity through workforce development, job skills training, and education.”

Taylor did not mention Van de Putte in her victory remarks.

Van de Putte was surrounded by family and hundreds of her supporters as she conceded Saturday shortly after 9:30 p.m..

“Tonight there’s a little bit of heartbreak and some tears, but we are so proud,” Van de Putte said. She described the runoff as a “tough race,” but said she had already telephoned Mayor Taylor to promise, “As a third-generation San Antonian, I would be right alongside her, and together we would create San Antonio into the great American city that we know she is.”

Leticia Van de Putte  and her husband Pete Van de Putte walks out to give a concession speech at her election party.  Photo by Scott Ball.

Leticia Van de Putte and her husband Pete Van walk out for her concession speech. Photo by Scott Ball.

Van de Putte Campaign Manager Christian Archer said the Election Day turnout went against them.

“Election Day saw a much bigger voter turnout on the Northside for Ivy,” Archer said. “While we definitely narrowed the gap, we certainly didn’t do it fast enough.”

In the end, only 96,277 people, 14.5% of the city’s 660,983 registered voters, went to the polls. Early voting over eight days drew 65,091 voters, more than 67% of the total vote, while 31,136 voted Saturday. Van de Putte supporters had hoped for a turnout of 40,000 voters on Saturday.

Taylor won 34,070 votes, or 52.51% of the early vote, while Van de Putte won 30,813 votes, or 47.49%.

Former Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson, who finished a distant fourth in the May 9 vote and then endorsed Taylor, was more optimistic as the vote count moved toward completion.

“Ivy in effect, I thought, achieved probably one of those rare political harmonic convergences where people just come together,” Adkisson said. “I thought she really delivered as we were hoping and thinking that she would.”

Earlier, the view was cautiously optimistic at Van de Putte headquarters.

Leticia Van de Putte gives her concession speech at her election party.  Photo by Scott Ball.

Leticia Van de Putte gives her concession speech at her election party. Photo by Scott Ball.

“I’ve supported Leticia from the beginning, we’ve been friends for a quarter of a century and I’m excited, it looks like she might win this thing,” Councilmember Ray Lopez (D6), who won re-election on May 9, said of results shortly after 8 p.m. “This has been a divisive race, as most campaigns are, but I think at the end of the day the voters will choose the person who has the most effective plans and vision, and I think Leticia communicated that very effectively.”

“We know that a lot of people tend to come out to vote on Election Day,” Councilmember Shirley Gonzales (D5) said. “We expected an additional 40,000 voters to come out today, and we hope that will bridge the gap and give a victory to Leticia.”

The mayor’s race divided members of City Council, and whether those divisions persist and spill over into governance, or are somehow overcome, remains to be seen.

Campaign Manager Christian Archer reviewing results with Leticia Van de Putte. Photo by Scott Ball

Campaign Manager Christian Archer reviewing results with mayoral candidate and former state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte. Bexar County Commissioner Paul Elizondo (r) studies results. Photo by Scott Ball

In the only City Council runoff in District 7, incumbent Cris Medina easily won re-election over challenger Mari Aguirre Rodriguez, outpolling her  by more than 1,000 votes, 6,682 to 5,614, with 96% of the boxes counted. Aguirre Rodriguez held the seat by appointment for two months in 2014 while Medina was fulfilling reserve military duty.


Media Report                                       BEXAR COUNTY, TEXAS                                Unofficial Results
                                                   RUNOFF ELECTION
                                                   JUNE 13, 2015
RUN DATE:06/13/15 10:07 PM

                                        TOTAL VOTES     %      EARLY VOTE  ELECTION DAY

 PRECINCTS COUNTED (OF 557).  .  .  .  .        557  100.00
 REGISTERED VOTERS - TOTAL .  .  .  .  .    696,469
 BALLOTS CAST - TOTAL.  .  .  .  .  .  .     98,344                65,091        33,253
 VOTER TURNOUT - TOTAL  .  .  .  .  .  .              14.12

 Ivy R. Taylor .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     50,659   51.70        34,070        16,589
 Leticia Van De Putte.  .  .  .  .  .  .     47,328   48.30        30,813        16,515

CITY OF SAN ANTONIO Council, Place No. 7
 Mari Aguirre-Rodriguez .  .  .  .  .  .      5,668   45.71         3,751         1,917
 Cris Medina.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .      6,732   54.29         4,510         2,222

Both Van de Putte and Taylor pushed hard in the runoff, meeting at five forums, trading punches in the media and in direct mail pieces, taking to social media, announcing endorsements, and rallying their bases. Christian Archer, campaign manager for Van de Putte, predicted in the closing week that Saturday’s turnout would be strong enough for his candidate to overcome an eight-point Taylor lead in early voting. That proved to be unrealistic, especially with lower-than-expected voter turnout Saturday.

The 2015 campaign, including the runoff, set a record for campaign spending, both by an individual candidate and by the field.

Van de Putte estimates she spent $1.1 million in the two-round race, a city record surpassing the nearly $1 million former Mayor Phil Hardberger spent in 2005. Taylor, who entered the race just before the February 28 deadline, spent between $400,000 and $500,000. Villarreal, the first to declare his candidacy for mayor last July, spent an estimated $800,000 in the first round. Final campaign reports will be available later this month.

All along, Taylor was expected to win the early vote, which attracts more older, conservative white voters. Hispanics and younger voters of all races and ethnicities vote in lower numbers, especially in local elections. In the early vote from June 1-9,  80% of the voters were 50 years old or older, and less than 6% were 35 years old or younger. The remaining 14% were between 35-50 years old.

A last-day rush of early voters swelled the eight-day turnout to 60,326 voters, nearly 7,500 more than the 52,859 who voted early in the May 9 General Election. A total of 10,753 people voted Tuesday. That’s 8.7% of registered voters compared to 7.5% that turned out for early voting in the May 9 General Election.

There was one wild card to this round’s early vote: Nearly 17,000 of those who voted June 1-9 did not vote in the first round, which means 5,000 people who did vote early in the first round did not vote early in the second round.

“48% of those 16,939 voters live in my former Senate district and 52.3% of the total are Hispanic and 58% are women,” Van de Putte said Wednesday, yet Villarreal’s decision not to endorse her likely kept some of his supporters on the sidelines. Some probably wouldn’t have voted for either Van de Putte or Taylor even with a Villarreal endorsement, if social media is an accurate barometer. Many self-identified Villarreal voters took to Facebook and Twitter after his third place finish on May 9 to lament the outcome and express a dislike for the top two finishers, many saying they didn’t know how to choose between the two or posting they were not going to vote in the runoff.

The impact of Villarreal staying out of the runoff will be the subject of continuing debate in the weeks ahead. Neither he nor Van de Putte have any immediate plans to pursue elected office.

“I would have loved to have had Mike’s support, but a huge number of Mike’s supporters and Mike’s financial backers came over,” Van de Putte said.

The May 9 General Election

Only 2% separated Van de Putte, who finished first, and Taylor, who finished 2.3% ahead of Villarreal. Van de Putte had 25,982 votes, 30.43%, while Taylor had 24,245 votes, 28.40%. Villarreal had 22,246 votes, 26.06%. Former Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson, who endorsed Taylor in the runoff, had 8,344 votes, 9.77%. The other 10 candidates for mayor accounted for about 5% of the total vote.

Mayoral Final May 9 City Elections

Rivard Reporter Joan Vinson and freelance writer Lea Thompson  contributed to this report.


Down to the Wire: Ivy Vs. Leticia for Mayor

Brian Dillard: Moving Forward with Ivy Taylor

Last-Day Rush Swells Early Vote Turnout

Lew Moorman: One More Vote to Move Us Forward

Mike’s Voters Look for a Way Forward

@SATechBloc Draws Huge Launch Crowd to the Pearl

Commentary: Union Challenge Awaits Next Mayor & Council

#SAvotes…Sorta. What It Means to Have Low Voter Turnout 

It’s Official: Ivy and Leticia in a Runoff

55 thoughts on “Taylor Becomes San Antonio’s First Elected Black Mayor

    • Actually, won’t Mike have an easier time of it running against Ivy in 2017 than against Leticia?
      And don’t blame Mike for his supporters who chose not to vote in the run-off. Those folks effectively helped elect Ivy.

  1. This goes to show you that running far to the left still will not get you elected in San Antonio. Wait another 10 years.

  2. I think the citizens of San Antonio saw Van De Putte as a lifelong politician versus Mayor Taylor as a non politician. It was obviously clear and apparent that Van De Putte outspent Mayor by a signficant margin. Most of us voters are tired of the same politics as usual. I don’t recall anyone ever making any reference to San Antonio as two cities, one that is minority-majority, largely Hispanic and the other an Anglo dominant as noted in the article when Mayor Castro won all his mayoral elections. I think it is rather devisive to describe Mayor Taylor victory in such terms . On the other hand, I applaud and I find it rather refreshing that our great city has just elected Mayor Taylor as our first elected Black mayor of San Antonio.

    • I don’t think it’s that SA elected a black mayor; it’s that SA elected a conservative, anti-choice, anti-gay mayor. (Yes, Mayor Taylor, voting AGAINST the NDO means you are anti-gay.) Race had little to do with this election — it was about absolute stances and perceived allegiance. Ivy’s opposition to the NDO as “a waste of time” endeared her to conservatives and members of the religious right wing. Nice move, SA. How long will it take us to join the 21st century after this is all over? We really, really needed Mike as mayor.

  3. My comments are more in depth than “wow” or “yea Ivy!” and also speak the truth. Yet, you guys at RR moderate them out of existence. So much for an open discussion on the election and the direction the city. This election says so many things about how voters feel, but the RR staff refuses to acknowledge anything that does not follow left wing ideology.

    • Curtis, Please limit yourself to a single comment per story and refrain from denigrating people,and classes of people who happen to be different than you OR that you disagree with. Some of your comments are truly appalling, and when they are, we will not post them. –RR

      • Then the voters of San Antonio are appalling. I am merely stating what we have learned. This election is HUGE, and I apologize for posting more than one comment.

        Here is what we have learned. I would love to hear where I am wrong. All these points are relevant to the election and this article.

        1. Uber, Lyft, and Tech Bloc were non-issues to the voters. Most people have no idea what these are. If people cared about these issues, Mike V or LVP would have won.

        2. San Antonio voters do not want NDO. How is this appalling? This is the message the voters just sent to their elected officials. I am sorry that the voters do not agree with the Rivard Report staff. So don’t point fingers at me.

        3. Mike V. and LVP were both looking for a place on a presidential cabinet. Why else would they run for mayor? They were hoping to follow in the footsteps of Castro and Cisneros. It makes no sense to go from a state office to a local office unless they were looking at the national level.

        4. Millennials, like in all elections, do not vote in large numbers. The same is true of this elections. We will learn this in the days to come. It makes no sense pandering to an age group who does not vote. I guarantee the elections managers of Ivy Taylor and LVP targeting the 50+ age group.

        These are all important points we just learned tonight and relevant for discussion or the topic of an honest article.

    • Shouldn’t she be thanking the voters who voted for her??!? Otherwise, I don’t understand why she would thank her Lord for making her spend extra time and money in a run off. Why not just finish her first in May?? Was she instead going to spend the money on a terrible pantsuit and He saved the day?? Praise!

      • While thanking the Lord for causing the majority of voters to vote for her, why didn’t Mayor Taylor thank the same Lord for not causing the SA River to flood our city killing some residents (as He caused the Blanco R. to rise killing folks in Wimberley), and for not causing animals to escape from SA Zoo after a storm (as He caused in a zoo in the Russian state of Georgia yesterday), and for not causing any of our biker gangs to shoot each other at our Twin Peaks (as He caused in Waco last month)? None of the religious feel-good rhetoric or Bible-quoting will ever explain to me how The Big Guy gets the credit for all the good stuff that happens here but is blameless and gets off scott-free for all the bad, bad, bad, bad stuff (which usually happens to some rather good people) that happens every day here on Earth. Yeah, Praise! Whatever…..

  4. Taylor ran a shrewd campaign courting conservative white voters and being very quiet ib African American areas. Many black voters indicated that if they had known how closely she aligned herself with the GOP floodgate they would not have voted for her.

  5. Good riddance again! LVP is just another liberal progressive wanting to use our mayor’s office as a stepping stone to DC. She tried riding Wendy Davis’ coat tails to Lt. Gov and fell flat on her face. Van de Putte is our own local version of Hillary and this is a good indicator of how the national election will turn out.

  6. Our new mayor and current city manager are joined at the hip, fiscally speaking, and I would be very nervous if I belonged to a public union. Stay tuned, San Antonio is about to get very interesting.

  7. There’s a lot of doom and gloom in the comments here, but remember that a mayoral term in San Antonio is only two years.

    The math here is really simple: A metro area of 1.5 million people and Taylor won by 3,000 votes. In early elections, 80% of the voters were 50 years old or older. I really doubt the needle moved much election day.

    When 80% of your voters are 50 years and older, you will get the candidate that most reflects the wants, needs, and values of a highly conservative demographic. We can’t get the city we want by outsourcing the decision making to our forefathers.

    To fix the leadership problem, we first have to fix the apathy problem. But the good news about small numbers is how little you have to swing the vote to net major impact.

  8. The numbers are curious.

    On the election day in May, LVP defeated Taylor by a very slim margin. In the run-off, if LVP received two-thirds of the votes from former Villarreal supporters and one-third of Adkisson’s May totals, she would have defeated Taylor by over six thousand votes.

    What happened? Did LVP voters not turn out as they had in May, or did Villarreal’s supporters stay home or perhaps voted for Taylor in a higher percentage than I am assuming. For Taylor to have won, she must have also gotten an especially strong turnout and high percentage among first-time Northside voters on the day of the run-off.

    • Ivy won because so many Christian ministers urged their flocks of sheeple to vote for the anti-gay cross-wearing lady. Those folks taking voting seriously, unlike the majority of SA’s registered voters. When will SA people see beyond the hood of their cars?

  9. the progressives and professional communities will need to advocate for revitalization and smart growth; they will need to keep Ivy in check for the next two years and take credit when good things happen. I see Ron N. as the next mayor. Ivy is one and done.

  10. The good thing is it’s only two years.

    Everyone talks about voter apathy, but I think in this election the majority said NONE OF THE ABOVE. Both Taylor and LVP broke their pledge not to run, and really what type of circus would it be during the Presidential election if LVP had won? And Taylor will be easier to run against later.

  11. While I believe LVP would have been a stronger and more successful mayor, I do think Ivy’s winning is a strong endorsement for her and Scully’s approach to the public “safety” unions.

      • Of only 14.12% of the registered voters. Granted, the non-voters could have said “either-or” is OK, but they had very different messages in how they proposed to handle it, so I think the take away was “neither, hope the council holds whoever wins in check until next election”. Sad

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