Challengers Take Aim At Incumbent Taylor In TPR Mayoral Debate

Three leading candidates for San Antonio mayor tangled over relieving traffic gridlock, recruiting more police and the viability of the Vista Ridge water pipeline during a live debate Thursday on Texas Public Radio.  

A video of the entire debate is posted at tpr.org

Here are a few of the issues the candidates tackled:

A Citywide Light Rail System

-         By Shelley Kofler

Mayoral candidate and City Councilmember Ron Nirenberg says he’d ask voters in the near future to approve the construction of a citywide rail system. 

Candidates Ron Nirenberg, Manuel Medina, and Ivy Taylor participate in TPR's San Antonio Mayoral Debate
Credit Jan Ross / Texas Public Radio

A survey conducted by the city for the SA Tomorrow Plan showed citizens believe a significant portion of transportation spending should be for rail. 

Mayor Ivy Taylor said it’s too soon to ask citizens to support a citywide rail system.  She believes the city should first create areas with denser population and activity.

“I think if we went with a rail plan right now it would be too hard to identify beginning routes that a large number of people would see as a transportation solution,” Taylor said.

Nirenberg responded to Taylor by saying, “Mayor Taylor is completely oblivious to the reality that is coming to us with traffic.” 

Nirenberg said he’d move quickly to ask voters to approve the construction of a rail system.

“The challenge with transportation is we have to think big.  We have to go to the voters with a desire that they have already expressed to us through SA Tomorrow.”

Businessman Manuel Medina said he’s against a building rail throughout San Antonio.  He cited an estimated cost in the SA Tomorrow Plan of $5 billion.  He wants to expand what we have.

“We are going to invest in VIA ridership by expanding bus routes and bus frequency,” Medina said.

All three mayoral candidates want to combat gridlock by improving and expanding VIA bus service.

Support for the City Manager

-By David Martin Davies

You won’t find the name Sheryl Sculley on the May 6 ballot. But mayoral candidate Manuel Medina says a vote for him is a vote to fire Sculley who earns more than $425,000 a year.

“We have a form of government in San Antonio that puts the city manager and the mayor and council at the same level but we have a misbalance,” Medina said during the TPR debate.  Medina believes Sculley earns too much money and has too much power at City Hall.

Incumbent Ivy Taylor says Sculley’s sound management has earned SA the highest possible credit rating, but Taylor said it’s the elected leaders that call the shots, not Sculley.

“I know there had been policy issues where the manager wanted to go in one direction but as mayor it was my responsibility to ensure that we went in the direction that was in the best interest of the community and the will of the council.  The police contract is an example,” Taylor said.  Taylor supported the police contract agreed to in 2015.

Councilmember Ron Nirenberg says he favors keeping Sculley.  He took aim at Taylor, the frontrunner in this race, saying Sculley is being blamed for dysfunctions at City Hall caused by Mayor Taylor

“I want to be sure that San Antonio’s can be confident that we have a strong city manager, but we should not be forcing our city manager out the door when it’s really a referendum on the mayor.”

Vista Ridge Water Pipeline

By Joey Palacios

During the TPR debate, mayoral candidates Ron Nirenberg and Manuel Medina both took aim at Ivy Taylor over the Vista Ridge pipeline which would transport water 142 miles from Burleson to Bexar County.

Manuel Medina accused the Mayor of supporting the project because her development and business backers want it built.  Taylor fired back saying she supports Vista Ridge because it ensures a future supply of water to the growing region. .                 

Councilman Ron Nirenberg voted with the mayor to move forward with the Vista Ridge pipeline saying the original contract prevented rate payers from shouldering the financial risk.  But the San Antonio Water System has change the contract for building the pipeline and Nirenberg contract has been changed and he'd use the mayor's position on the San Antonio Water System board to fix or kill the pipeline deal.

See video of the full TPR mayoral debate below. Election Day is May 6.