Westside Neighborhoods Could Decide Mayoral Runoff

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Emily Royall for the Rivard Report

In their runoff battle, Mayor Ivy Taylor and Councilman Ron Nirenberg (D8) must appeal to a handful of precincts on the city’s near South and West sides, home to voters who could decide who will serve as San Antonio’s mayor for the next two years.

Data from the May 6 general election points to the Westside as the single best source of voters, if they return to the polls for the Saturday, June 10 runoff election. Early voting opens Tuesday, May 30.

Taylor finished with 42% of the vote May 6 on a crowded ballot of 14 candidates, with Nirenberg finishing closer than expected with 37%, statistically less than 5% and 5,000 votes behind her. Manuel Medina, the Bexar County Democratic Party chairman whose candidacy was self-funded, finished a distant third with 15% of the vote. The remaining 11 candidates drew less than 6% from widely divergent sectors of the city.

Of the 78 precincts won citywide by Medina, 47.4% show Nirenberg placing second among voters, while 38.5% of those precincts show Taylor placing second. In the remaining 14.1% of precincts won by Medina, voters are tied between Taylor and Nirenberg. These key battleground precincts are concentrated centrally on the South and West sides, bordering Taylor’s existing strongholds in nearby areas.

If Taylor can win half of Medina’s votes while retaining her 42% base, she can win re-election. If Nirenberg can win about two-thirds of the Medina votes and retain his 37% of the vote he can achieve what former Mayor Phil Hardberger and Taylor have both done: finish second in the first round of voting and then surge ahead to win the runoff.

To win on June 10, Taylor and Nirenberg will have to fight for voters in the central Westside neighborhoods of Westlawn, Loma Vista, and Memorial Heights, which experienced crime rates nearly 56% higher than the city average in 2015. Medina’s campaign stance on public safety, including calling for increased community policing strategies and increased numbers of patrol officers, undoubtedly resonated with voters in these areas.

Meanwhile, Nirenberg’s voter base, expected to be concentrated primarily on the Northside and in the center city and surrounding neighborhoods, has made significant inroads into Taylor’s traditional areas of support.

Voting data shows that Nirenberg claimed several Eastside neighborhoods, including Dignowity Hill where Taylor resides, a historic neighborhood that had some of the city’s worst residential vacancy rates until young professionals began moving into the near-downtown community and buying homes that were priced between $50,000 and $100,000 that required substantial renovations. Dignowity Hill also has become home to an emerging LGBTQIA population, which was alienated by Taylor’s 2013 vote as the District 2 councilmember against expanding the city’s non-discrimination ordinance to include sexual and gender identity.

Other rapidly developing Eastside neighborhoods won by Nirenberg included parts of Denver Heights south of East Commerce Street. That neighborhood is the future home of Essex Modern City, a large-scale, mixed-use infill development by the Harris Bay investment firm in based in Sacramento, Calif.

Early voting for the runoff begins May 30. For voting locations and times, click here.

7 thoughts on “Westside Neighborhoods Could Decide Mayoral Runoff

  1. I’ve been waiting to post this because I want to give the candidates the benefit of the doubt but I really don’t see their campaign strategies changing. Mr. Nirenberg focusing on the north side and Ms. Taylor not really expanding much either.

    You see I live on the Southside near Palo Alto College. I was sent plenty of Manuel Medina mailers and so were my neighbors. From a quick observation, I found that Mr. Medina seemed to have a presence on the Southside. His campaign consistently canvassed my community. I’m not jaded because Mr. Nirenberg or Ms. Taylor didn’t pay me a visit. In fact, I still voted for Ron. But I will ask the question–why was there not more presence of the two leading candidates for mayor in my community?

    As a lifelong resident of the Southside, I am all too familiar with the divisions of this city: Northside, Southside, Eastside, Westside. Geography plays a huge role in how we see San Antonio, and from a political lens, I can see why candidates with surnames like Nirenberg or Taylor might hesitate to spend their campaign energies on a Southside community were 98% of residents are Hispanic. But don’t count my community out because we come from different places. I know for a fact there are people in my community that desire Ms. Taylor’s platform or Mr. Nirenberg’s ideals. A candidate that means to represent the entire city cannot see the city with such political calculation. They should reach out to all communities and make the case for their candidacy. Rallying your side of town to outvote other parts of the city only reinforces those socioeconomic divisions that make San Antonio one of the most segregated cities in the county. The next mayor should strive to bring our city together, through earnest attempts to understand each of our communities.

  2. I wonder how “liberal” Medina’s voters are. The divisive strategy the mayor is using to be re-elected may backfire on her.

  3. Re: Westside Neighborhoods – It would provide even a more clear picture if the number of voters in each area were included. There are precincts that may have been won, but may have only a few voters, while others may have a multitude of active voters.

    • I second this. I know from my own armchair research, some of those precincts have single digit votes for candidates.

    • I second the comment regarding the number of votes. I know from my own armchair research, some of those precincts have single digit votes for candidates.

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