Leticia Van de Putte smiles at the crowd. Photo by Scott Ball.
Leticia Van de Putte visits the Lion's Field polling place during her bid for mayor in 2015. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

When you look back over our city’s modern history, what separates the good mayors from the great mayors is their ability to bring our city together to work collaboratively to achieve big, bold goals.

When it was first announced that Mayor Julían Castro was to be nominated to be the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, people asked me who should be the next mayor of San Antonio. After all, our city is on the rise and we deserve a great mayor to keep our momentum moving forward. So when asked who would be a great mayor, I responded – Leticia Van de Putte. Unfortunately, she was not in a position to be the next mayor since the city’s charter required that the next mayor be selected from the current City Council.

When both Van de Putte and then-Councilmember Ivy Taylor pledged not to run for mayor, I proudly signed on to serve as co-chair for Mike Villarreal’s campaign. I believed that Mike had the vision, intellectual capacity, and leadership to be a good mayor, and he also had a broad coalition of support to bring our city together.

When Mike failed to make the runoff, I gave the two candidates a fresh look and studied the issues that were most important to the city. I returned to my initial belief that Van de Putte is the best choice to be our next mayor. Let me tell you why and, in doing so, dispel several campaign myths.

Police/Fire Negotiations

I supported Mike’s stance on the contract negotiations with the police because he offered an emphatic commitment to the fiscal future of our city. After talking with Van de Putte and looking at the policies she has put in writing, she has it right on the police union contract negotiations, and she will stand with City Manager Sheryl Sculley on fiscal accountability.

It concerns me that the negotiations have dragged on this long. Allowing the negotiations to take the acrimonious turn has been detrimental to our city. We need a contract that fairly compensates our first responders without jeopardizing our AAA Bond Rating and fiscal integrity. Leticia supports city council’s pre-existing commitment to maintain public safety costs at or below 66% of the general fund budget so the city maintains adequate resources to fund all the other important basic services we depend upon including parks, libraries, senior services, and more. Furthermore, Leticia will not allow an evergreen clause to be excessive like it is today.

Van de Putte’s opponents want to scare you into believing that the endorsement by the unions will compromise her ability to get a fiscally responsible deal done. As one who has stood firmly on the side of the city to negotiate a fiscally responsible contract, let me assure you that is not true. Rather, Van de Putte is the only candidate with the relationships and consensus building skills to bring both sides to the table to get a deal done quickly so we can keep our city safe and move on to other important issues like infrastructure.

Commitment to Infrastructure and Basic City Services

We are likely to have a major bond proposal in 2017. As tri-chair of the 2012 Bond Campaign, I’m keenly aware that we must strategically invest in infrastructure because the needs far outweigh our available resources. Van de Putte has committed to investing 75% of the upcoming bond on critical infrastructure projects. She will also utilize an open process that engages citizens from every council district to give recommendations to guide council’s decision on a bond proposal.

Relationship with City Staff

Van de Putte’s critics say she will fire Sheryl Sculley if elected mayor. Once again, that is just not true.Van de Putte knows that Sheryl is one of the best city managers in America. She has publicly lauded Sheryl for her leadership to strengthen the delivery of basic city services and position San Antonio to be the largest city in America to earn a AAA bond rating.Van de Putte will work with the city council and city staff to ensure we continue on this path and find ways to deliver our services even better, especially to at-risk populations of our City.

Relationships to Get Things Done

Van de Putte’s critics say she is a career politician because of her public service over the past 25 years. The fact is she has worked tirelessly with individuals and groups all across our city, state and nation to get things done for San Antonio and Texas. Everyone who has worked to pass important state legislation for bettering our city knows that Van de Putte has been critical to getting bipartisan support to pass legislation. Van de Putte’s career relationships position her to do more for San Antonio when it comes to public-private partnerships that are necessary to tackle the City’s toughest challenges in areas of education, housing, infrastructure and human services. These issues are too big for the city to do alone, and Leticia has the breadth and scope of relationships to make big things possible for our City.

Bringing Back Uber and Lyft

I was appalled that San Antonio became the first major city in Texas to run off transportation companies like Uber and Lyft because of government regulations. Rideshare programs were central to Mike’s campaign platform and like Villarreal, Van de Putte has been a strong voice for wiping the slate clean and developing an ordinance that brings them back to our city to ensure we have safe, cost effective, and convenient transportation options that also open the doors for economic development.

Non-Partisan Politics

Like Villarreal, Van de Putte has made a “no partisan politics” pledge. This is very important to me because our mayor must work with whoever gets elected at the state and federal level. She has seen partisan politics up close and personal at the state level. She sees how destructive it is. Van de Putte says, “the city is the people’s government.” We can count on her to bring all stakeholders together to solve our city’s challenges, regardless of political party.

The Best Choice to Build a Great American City

I’m confident San Antonio will flourish best if we electVan de Putte as our mayor. She is a woman of conviction with a passion to make her hometown of San Antonio a better place to raise a family, pursue a fulfilling career, start a new business and enjoy a great quality of life. Because her public life has been thoroughly vetted by decades of public scrutiny, we know there will be no surprises to derail our progress.

It’s for these reasons that I believe Leticia Van de Putte is the clear choice to be San Antonio’s next great mayor. When you look at her track record you can be confident that she will be a mayor who will bring us together to tackle tough challenges and seize upon the opportunities that will make us a great American city.

To borrow a great line from Mike’s campaign, Van de Putte only needs one vote…yours! So vote San Antonio. When you do, I hope you join me in voting for Leticia Van de Putte as our next mayor.

*Featured/top image: Leticia Van de Putte smiles at the crowd after voting at Lion’s Field on June 1.  Photo by Scott Ball. 

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Carri Baker is the COO for Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP, a Girl Scout USA board member and volunteer, and the co-founder and past chair of the SAISD Foundation. She serves on the President’s...