In a setback for LGBT equality in the nation’s seventh-largest city, interim San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor — who voted against the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance and later called it “a waste of time” — won a two-year term on Saturday.
Taylor, who was appointed to replace former Mayor Julian Castro when he stepped down to become HUD secretary, defeated former state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, a staunch LGBT ally, in a runoff.
The Express-News of San Antonio reports:
Taylor won the bruising election with 51.7 percent of the 98,344 ballots cast.
“In winning (Saturday), Ivy Taylor achieved this biggest political upset at the local level I’ve seen in more than 30 years,” said Councilman Joe Krier, who encouraged Taylor to run for mayor and endorsed her in the runoff election.
Indeed, Taylor told supporters at her victory party Saturday night that they’d defeated “a political machine.”
The Texas Tribune reports that Taylor’s stunning victory is another setback for the Democratic Party in the state and occurred partly due to low turnout:
“At the end of the day, we needed 3,000 Democrats to get off their asses and go vote, and they didn’t,” said Colin Strother, a Democratic consultant who had worked for the fourth-place finisher in the first round of the race, former Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson. “And that’s the story of our life in Texas politics, is that Democrats could elect anyone they wanted to any position — statewide, local, you name it — if they would get off the couch and go vote, and they don’t do it.”
But it was not just lower-than-expected turnout that hurt Van de Putte, according to her backers. She was up against a woman who had galvanized the city’s social conservatives through her opposition to a nondiscrimination ordinance in 2013, and the city’s fiscal conservatives through her decision to effectively kill a plan to build a streetcar system downtown.
After voting against the nondiscrimination ordinance in 2013 and calling it a waste of time during this year’s campaign, Taylor apologized. But her apology was largely rejected by LGBT advocates.
In May, with the election approaching and amid the firestorm over her anti-gay remarks, Taylor finally unveiled a plan to implement the 18-month-old LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance.
Now that Taylor has won the election with the support of social conservatives, it’s questionable to what degree that plan will move forward. And it seems far less likely that the ordinance, which doesn’t cover private employers, will be expanded anytime soon.