Mayor Ivy Taylor speaks during Pints and Politics at The Pearl Brewery. Photo by Scott Ball.
Mayor Ivy Taylor speaks during Pints & Politics II at the Pearl Stable. Photo by Scott Ball.

I’m voting for Ivy Taylor. When I say that, it doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t have supported Mike or Tommy if either of them had been elected. It doesn’t mean that I won’t support Leticia Van de Putte if she is elected. It means that I believe the best candidate for Mayor of San Antonio is Ivy Taylor.

“Eastside Leadership”

I’m a third generation San Antonio Eastsider. I’m a 2001 graduate of Sam Houston High School. I was born and raised in what is now known as EastPoint, and I am a homeowner in Dignowity Hill.

I left San Antonio in 2002 for the Air Force, and returned in 2009, the same year that Ivy Taylor was elected for her first term as District 2 Councilmember. Upon my return I was disappointed and ashamed to see that my beloved Eastside community had been stagnant the entire time I was gone. After analyzing the environment that created the stagnation, I realized that many who were considered to be “Eastside Leaders” were all talk and no action. Some of these “Eastside Leaders” are the individuals who stood in front of the Friedrich Building a few weeks ago and decided to place all of the blame on Ivy Taylor, rather than themselves. These folks who have been held up as “Eastside Leaders” for decades, were now pointing the finger at a woman who, in six years, has done more for the community than all of them combined. I can understand why all of the fingers have been pointed at Mayor Taylor. She won’t bow to the self-appointed establishment that’s been created in my community. The establishment that requires candidates to be vetted before moving forward to represent their communities, while supporting the individuals who have kept us low on the social ladder for decades. The people who won’t look your way, unless they have something to gain. These are some of the individuals that stood united in front of the Friedrich Building to point the finger at a woman who refused to jump on the bandwagon to stagnation.

District 2 Councilmember Ivy Taylor

In the past six years that I’ve been back, I’ve seen Ivy become the catalyst for long-awaited growth in District 2. During her tenure as District 2 Councilmember, Ivy helped secure more than $500 million dollars of investments for the Eastside as a result of her District 2 revitalization efforts. From the replacement of the Sutton Homes, to redevelopment of the Wheatley Courts, housing is improving for those who can least afford it. The Eastside Promise Zone was a major win for District 2 because it was one of the first times that we were put on the national radar for community revitalization. A brand new Senior Center, the Goodwill Good Careers Center, three new fire stations, a brand new library, the Wheatley Heights Sports Complex, the Alamo Brewery, several corridor enhancements, hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in Eastside businesses through SAGE, millions of dollars of investments in local community centers, and countless other successes have occurred during the time that Ivy Taylor was a councilmember.

I’ve read recently, in more than one article, that Mayor Taylor dislikes politics. She is not a politician. This is apparent in her reluctance to put her face on the front of every success that occurs in District 2. While it’s a gift that she can remain so modest when it comes to these accomplishments, it’s also a curse because her leadership usually isn’t openly associated with them either. Which brings me to my next point…

Mayor Ivy Taylor speaks during the SA Tomorrow kickoff at the Alamo Convocation Center. Photo by Joan Vinson.
Mayor Ivy Taylor speaks during the SA Tomorrow kickoff at the Alamo Convocation Center. Photo by Joan Vinson.

Mayor Ivy Taylor

Mayor Taylor has championed an initiative entitled SA Tomorrow. You’ve probably heard about it recently, but never associated it with our current Mayor. If SA2020 is the initiative that identified important objectives for San Antonio, SATomorrow is the roadmap that outlines how to achieve those objectives. The SATomorrow effort consists of three plans that all tie in together – a comprehensive plan, a sustainability plan, and a transportation plan. SATomorrow takes the politicking out of City Hall. Elected officials won’t be at the mercy of local special interest groups, and as turnover occurs, pet projects for political points become less important and the focus will remain on developing long-term, well-planned, sustainable communities. The SATomorrow effort is something that the top four Mayoral candidates all committed to continuing if they were to be elected. This effort is the result of Mayor Taylor.

In addition to her focus on managing growth and enhancing our San Antonio community through SATomorrow, Mayor Taylor has also worked to enhance workforce development, protect our AAA bond rating, and secure an additional supply of water to our city by way of the Vista Ridge pipeline project.

While I can proudly stand behind much of the great work Mayor Taylor has done, as Councilmember and now Mayor, I have to acknowledge that I have not always agreed with every decision she has made. Her vote against the NDO is one of the few. Following her support of domestic-partner benefits for city employees, I was dismayed by her decision against the NDO. While the decision left me disappointed, I refused to shun and berate her like many others have done. It’s my responsibility as a fellow San Antonian to instead hope that my actions and words may influence situations like this one for the better. Although our thoughts may differ on the issue, I’m encouraged to know that the implementation of the NDO is an ongoing effort that Mayor Taylor chose to drive forward immediately, regardless of her vote.

While the NDO is moving forward under Mayor Taylor, there are other popular issues that I believe are important for San Antonio, but have not yet come to fruition. It’s easy for people to trash Ivy because we don’t see popular tech companies embrace and move to San Antonio, but many times we choose to ignore the context surrounding such decisions.

Uber leaving our city in May was disappointing for many in San Antonio. I’m in the Cybersecurity sector, no one had to hear more about it than folks who are members of San Antonio’s tech community. Uber’s exit from San Antonio was portrayed to SA residents as though Mayor Taylor pushed them away. Context went out the window in regards to this conversation. There was no consideration of the fact that Uber operates in Houston with stricter regulations than San Antonio proposed (the two points that Uber refused to comply with were fingerprint ID verification and random drug tests). Another contributing factor that was lost in the conversation is that Mayor Taylor didn’t tap a magic wand and make Uber disappear all on her own. The City Council voted 8-2 in favor of an updated ordinance crafted to ease regulations and any burdens that Uber officials had previously indicated as obstacles to operating in our city. Uber left San Antonio, San Antonio didn’t push Uber away.

Another hot topic has been the rumored absence of Google Fiber. San Antonio is a large area to implement such an innovative project, and Google recognizes the magnitude of this feat. Simply because Google Fiber chose to move forward with smaller cities first, doesn’t mean that San Antonio is no longer on their map. In fact, we are literally still on their map of “Expansion Plans.” Google officials have stated as recent as late March that they are still working with city officials on ways to move forward with the project.

Moving Forward with Mayor Taylor

Regardless of who is elected Mayor this Saturday, it is important that we all remember that we rely on each other, day in and day out, to move our city forward. I’ve cast my vote for Mayor Taylor and along with that, I have voted for a better San Antonio. I hope you’ll do the same.

Full disclosure: My fiancée was employed by Ivy Taylor during her time as a council member and interim mayor. She no longer works for Mayor Taylor, which is why I am more inclined to express my personal thoughts in public now. I met my fiancée after an SAISD community meeting at which I spoke as a community member. I was actively engaged in my community before I met my fiancée and will continue to be now that she has moved on from the political environment.

*Featured/top image: Mayor Ivy Taylor speaks during Pints & Politics II at the Pearl Stable. Photo by Scott Ball. 

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Brian Dillard is an Eastside San Antonio native and homeowner in Dignowity Hill. He is the chief innovation officer for the City of San Antonio. He began his career in public service in 2018 as the city's...