In a historic runoff election on Saturday, Ivy Taylor was elected as the first black mayor of San Antonio. Taylor, a former council member who was appointed interim mayor last summer, defeated Leticia Van De Putte, a former State Senator and the Democratic Party nominee for Lt. Governor in 2014. Van De Putte is known as a vocal supporter of abortion and redefining marriage.
Ivy Taylor was one of only three council members that voted against an anti-religious freedom LGBT ordinance passed in 2013 that gave special protections on the basis of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” Texas Values helped lead the statewide effort to expose the many dangerous aspects of the ordinance, including the effective ban on bible-believing Christians from serving in office that was present in the original draft of the ordinance. The national outrage forced then Mayor Julian Castro and his allies to modify some language, but the ordinance, as passed, was still designed “to be used as a weapon against people of faith and family values …”
Despite attacks on her campaign by pro-homosexual advocates, Ivy Taylor continued to maintain her opposition to the ordinance throughout the campaign and openly expressed her Christian faith. Her support for pro-family values and pledge to end “politics as usual” helped unite the same broad coalition of faith and community leaders that vehemently opposed the ordinance in 2013.
As Weston Martinez, a conservative leader in San Antonio, told the Texas Tribune, Taylor’s win was “delivered by the social conservatives, evangelicals, Protestants and Catholics,” groups encouraged to see she “doesn’t leave her faith at the door when she goes into the mayor’s office.”
Pundits are calling Taylor’s win “a wake-up call for Democrats.” But the message of this race had little to do with typical partisan politics. Taylor’s victory shows that Texans, even in Democratic strongholds like San Antonio, look to support candidates that seek to truly represent the voice of the people and that see their faith as an integral part of their public service. Her victory is also a reminder of the power Texas’ large and diverse faith communities can have when they unite and vote.