San Antonio: Runoffs and Debt - Texas Scorecard

After an incredibly busy election cycle for San Antonio residents almost came to an end on Saturday, the city is now headed for runoffs in June.

The spotlight, of course, is on the Mayoral race. Although incumbent Mayor Ivy Taylor pulled the lion’s share of the vote – 42 percent – she missed the 51 percent threshold for avoiding a runoff. Taylor will be facing former District 8 councilman Ron Nirenberg, who came in second with 37 percent. Neither candidate offers much contrast from the other – both are plenty sympathetic to the city establishment and the crony interests surrounding it. In that sense, Nirenberg – who Watchdog.org named one of the scariest people of 2016 – may actually be more sympathetic to those same anti-taxpayer interests.

Manuel Medina, a former Democratic Party chairman, presented himself as the reform candidate in that race. He was the only major candidate who recognized the city’s reckless spending habits, the culture of cronyism in City Hall, and the need to enact property tax reform for San Antonio residents. As a result, a bi-partisan coalition of establishment interests, including former Mayor Julian Castro, County Judge Wolff, the Bexar GOP, and the local news came out hard against him. He pulled 15 percent, failing to make the runoff.

Many of the down ballot races resulted in runoffs as well. Districts 1 and 2 will feature incumbents fighting off challengers, and all four vacant seats will head to a runoff. In District 6, police and fire union consultant Greg Brockhouse (who came in first with 36%) will face-off against Melissa Havrda, a disability rights attorney, who came in second with 20.5 percent. District 8 will feature a runoff between Cynthia Brehm and Manny Pelaez.

The biggest upset occurred in San Antonio’s wealthiest district, District 9. Unfortunately, a crowded field of Republican candidates split the conservative vote in that district, sending two Democrats to the runoffs. Patrick Von Dohlen, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility’s endorsee in that race, came shy of the runoff by 500 votes – a barrier which would have easily been cleared had the electorate not been so divided.

In addition to runoffs, voters also approved all six bond propositions – totaling around $850 million – more than doubling San Antonio’s debt for various infrastructural projects around the city.