Former state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and Mayor Ivy Taylor have attended more than 60 different mayoral forums, debates, and Q&A sessions this year. On Wednesday morning WOAI-AM News Radio hosted what is expected to be the last event featuring the two candidates before the June 13 runoff.
The first several dozen took place as they and 12 other candidates vied for votes for the May 9 City Election that separated the two candidates from the pack for the runoff. Van de Putte received less than 2,000 more votes than Taylor during the first round and the runoff is expected to be just as tight.
Despite an escalation in tension between the two during a Texas Public Radio debate on Monday, which culminated in Taylor refusing to shake Van de Putte’s hand, the candidates were relatively polite as they made small talk before the debate started on Wednesday. They were each relieved that the forum parade was over and to close out the debate – at the request of moderator and WOAI News Director Jim Forsyth – the next mayor of San Antonio shook hands with her opponent.
The classic arguments and jabs were made about the police union negotiations, the drive-by shooting that took place at Taylor’s husband’s business, the legislative quorum that broke when Van de Putte and 11 other senators left the state to hold up a controversial redistricting bill, rideshare regulations, the non-discrimination ordinance, and more.
Listen to the hour-long debate here.
The handshake, however, will not likely cool down the campaign efforts of either candidate as they each have started to go on the offense in terms of the tone of mail-outs and endorsement announcements.
Highlighting those endorsements, a paid radio spot by the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association (SAPFA) was heard by WOAI listeners during a commercial break. SAPFA has been aggressively advocating for Van de Putte with signage and advertisements independent of her campaign, she said. But it made for another awkward moment in the studio.
“It was not scheduled to happen and I apologize,” Forsyth said of the advertisement.
The firefighters union has not begun contract negotiation talks with the city, but its contract is heavily tied to the deal that the police union, which also endorsed Van de Putte, gets. SAPFA is expected to get a similar deal to the one that is worked out with the San Antonio Police Officers Association (SAPOA). The police union negotiating team has not met with City negotiators since endorsing Van de Putte.
“We need to get this police and fire contract done,” Van de Putte said. “We can do that with strong leadership, adhering to the two-thirds of the general fund budget (requirement) and having room under that to craft a compensation package that gives San Antonians the type of first responders that we’re going to retain, recruit, have them trained, and have the equipment.”
Van de Putte again dismissed the notion that the union campaign endorsements would influence negotiations if she becomes mayor.
“Regardless of what the tone of content of the ads is, the question that voters need to ask themselves is whether or not we want union leadership – a special interest group – running City Hall,” Taylor said. “The average person would assume (the unions are) expecting something in return.”
The police and fire unions are waiting to see how the election turns out, she said. “On June 14, I’ll be calling (SAPOA President) Mike Helle to say, ‘Let’s pick up where we left off.’”
Both Van de Putte and Taylor will be block-walking, fundraising, and attending various events for the next 10 days until polling stations close at 7 p.m. on June 13. Early voting closes on June 9. Click here for voting information.
*Featured/top image: Leticia Van de Putte and Mayor Ivy Taylor shake hands after the debate. Photo by Iris Dimmick.