Taylor Makes History As First African American Mayor Of San Antonio

Jul 22, 2014

When voting finally got underway Tuesday in a packed city council chamber, the top two candidates out of the four vying for the interim mayor position became clear: Ivy Taylor from District 2 and Ray Lopez from District 6, who secured all of the votes.

District 5 councilwoman Shirley Gonzales and District 8 Councilman Ron Nirenberg, both of whom are rookie council members, did not receive any votes.

In the initial round of voting, Taylor garnered four votes to Lopez's two. The second round tilted Taylor's direction even more, this time with a vote split of 5-3.

That's when voting for the interim mayor to succeed Julián Castro, who starts his job at the Department of Housing and Urban Development Monday, took a twist.

Lopez surprised everyone and withdrew his name from consideration, telling his council colleagues that a team is needed to move San Antonio forward.

"To sit here and argue over who's in and who's out and who's better and who's not, the reality is we are all capable of doing this. We are all committed to San Antonio," Lopez said to applause.

"And I will be proud to serve with you as mayor, Ivy," he finished.

When Taylor began her speech at the beginning of the process, she ran down a list of accomplishments and said she would like to serve in the interim role to continue moving Castro's vision forward. Taylor mentioned the streetcar, balancing the city budget, working toward a resolution to police and fire health benefits, and rebuilding relationships with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community following her vote against the revised non-discrimination ordinance passed last September.

"I've always been committed to working with everyone in our community, even though we may not always agree on every issue." - Mayor Ivy Taylor.

Members of the community, including those from the LGBT community, spoke at the special council meeting before votes were cast, telling the council who their interim mayor of choice is and why. From the podium, Daniel Graney told the council that he feels passionate about the new mayor embodying the core principle that everyone in the city should be treated equally and fairly.

"We need a face that is a welcoming one that embraces fairness and equality," Graney said. "I therefore respectfully implore you to appoint an interim mayor who championed and voted for including LGBT protections in the NDO last year and is committed to furthering its implementation expansion."

Following the council meeting, Taylor answered questions about repairing those relationships.

"I've always been committed to working with everyone in our community, even though we may not always agree on every issue," said Taylor. "I've talked with them about some of the things they'd like to see moving forward as far as implementation and I pledged that I'd be willing to work on that."

Other members of the LGBT community said there is a trust issue because Taylor said she would vote in favor of the NDO but then voted against it.

On the budget and streetcar

In the next year, Taylor said she wants a budget that reflects the priorities of the citizens and take care of the public safety workers that also provides the city services that it needs. She wants to focus on the downtown area, strong neighborhoods, water supply and build on the momentum established with Pre-K 4 SA.

On streetcar, Taylor said she is waiting to see the outcome of petitions submitted to the city clerk that would allow a charter change to let voters voice their opinion on the project.

"I know that it's very unpopular with many of our citizens and so I'm waiting to see what the outcome is of the petitions; to see how we'll move forward," said Taylor. "It seems like folks are asking for the opportunity to have their voices heard through a vote and so I'm supportive of the public's right to vote."

Castro submitted his resignation officially to the city clerk during the council meeting and will be off to Washington, D.C., in just a few days to begin his job. Meantime, the city council will now move forward next week with the replacement process for Taylor's seat. That will begin with applications to be submitted to the city clerk.