San Antonio citizens may have just given themselves even higher taxes and more discrimination.
This weekend, the city’s residents voted to re-elect Ron Nirenberg as their mayor in a narrow 51-49 split. The heated runoff election had more votes than any municipal election in nearly 15 years and was one of the most contentious in recent history.
Nirenberg finally defeated fellow city council member Greg Brockhouse after failing to win a majority in the original May 4 election. May’s stalemate forced the June rematch between the two candidates.
The race, expected to be noncompetitive, escalated into a brawl after Nirenberg’s recent discriminatory actions.
Nirenberg, who was first elected mayor in 2017, was tangled in controversy after he voted in March to ban Chick-fil-A from the San Antonio International Airport solely due to the restaurant owner’s beliefs on marriage. The popular chicken eatery was originally one of the restaurants set to be included in the terminal, but the city council filed an amendment to kick them out.
After the decision drew nationwide backlash and the opening of an investigation by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Nirenberg tried to backpedal his rationale for discriminating against the company; the mayor claimed he banned Chick-fil-A because they are not open on Sundays, despite the fact that Chick-fil-A was rated “Best Franchise Brand” in 2018 by Airport Review News.
Soon after the council’s decision, Brockhouse called for a revote of the ban, but Nirenberg used his tie-breaking vote to ban Chick-fil-A from the airport yet again.
The ban became the most controversial issue in the mayoral race and was one that Nirenberg tried to flee from.
“How much oxygen is this going to take up?” Nirenberg asked recently, dismissing the issue as “the fast food subcontract.”
Not only has Nirenberg voted to ban organizations he disagrees with, but he has also voted to take more money from citizens, choosing to increase taxes ever since taking office on the city council in 2013. The average San Antonio homeowner is now paying the city roughly $400 more per year than they did just four years ago.
On the other hand, Brockhouse, a newcomer to the city council, voted against tax increases and stated on his campaign site that “a family needs to keep more of their money. City Hall needs to do more with the money they already have and learn to give some of it back by reducing property taxes and fees.”
But instead of wanting to keep their hard-earned cash, San Antonio citizens chose a mayor who will likely take more of it—and maybe even discriminate more along the way.
“We came up a little bit short. Not short in ideas and hope and faith, we came up short on some votes,” Brockhouse told several hundred supporters at his election night watch party. “Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to all of you.”
Only time will tell the full consequences of residents’ decision.