New San Antonio Mayor Nirenberg Says He'll Focus On Mass Transit, Affordable Housing
In the Alamo City, the mayor's race ended in an upset, as an incumbent running for re-election was defeated for the first time in two decades. The margin was 55-45 percent, and Ivy Taylor, the city's first female, African-American mayor is out, defeated by City Councilmember Ron Nirenberg.
Nirenberg says Taylor's mayoral tenure represented a loss of the momentum that San Antonio had experienced under two previous mayors, Phil Hardberger and Julian Castro.
"We have an extraordinary opportunity in a growing city in south central Texas to make our mark on the world, while also taking care of our own residents and ensuring that we have a high quality of life that accommodates the kind of growth that we're experiencing," Nirenberg says.
Nirenberg has already begun planning his first 100 days in office, focusing on transportation and housing.
"One of the big knocks on San Antonio right now is that we are ill-equipped to accommodate the kind of growth we are experiencing," Nirenberg says.
He includes issues related to roads among his priorities, as well as the need for what he calls a "modern and mass transit-oriented transportation system."
"We need to get on a path to getting a voter-approved mass transit system to San Antonio," he says.
On housing, Nirenberg stresses the need to maintain affordability.
"We need a comprehensive and compassionate housing policy that addresses issues that we're experiencing with regard to gentrification and displacement," he says. "Affordability has been one of the strengths of San Antonio, and we're seeing that disappear."
Conflict in the San Antonio mayor's race reached into state and national politics, as Taylor opposed a move to join a lawsuit opposing the state's new "sanctuary cities" law, also known as SB 4. Nirenberg supported San Antonio joining the suit and was outspoken in his opposition to SB 4, but he says it's unclear whether the candidates' opposing positions ultimately made the difference in the mayor's race.
"The way we ran our campaign is that we were going to reject the politics of division in our city, and we're going to respect everyone, regardless of when they got here, or what part of town they live in," he says. "Everyone deserves respect and fairness… We are now going to work within our democratic system of checks and balances on the next steps of challenging this law."
Written by Shelly Brisbin.