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The conversation in KLRN-TV’s studio Thursday afternoon was relatively polite, with minimal interruptions during the taping of KLRN’s Texas Week with Rick Casey. But Mayor Ivy Taylor and former state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte exchanged jabs about the City’s handling of the police union contract negotiations and Van de Putte’s endorsement from the San Antonio Police Officers Association.
“It lacks that leadership quality when you can’t get something done,” Van de Putte said. “It’s ridiculous that this (negotiation) has gone on for so long.”
“Well it takes two to tango,” Casey interjected.
“And leaving the state when you don’t get your way, doesn’t really demonstrate leadership,” Taylor said, referring to Van de Putte who joined 10 other legislators (the Texas 11) in 2003 and left Texas for Albuquerque, New Mexico for 46 days to prevent the passage of controversial redistricting legislation.**
“We wanna sling? That’s fine, but I thought as mature women we could start to discuss the issues because that’s what the voters deserve,” Van de Putte said, continuing to defend the endorsement, denying that SAPOA would receive a sweeter deal in negotiations because of it.
“Anybody who says that I got this because I promised something; they don’t know Leticia and they weren’t in the room,” Van de Putte said. “I am proud to have the endorsement … it’s based on two decades of working with me. I didn’t make any promises.”
Van de Putte has said that she opposes the lawsuit brought by the City that challenges the evergreen clause in the police and fire unions’ contracts. The keeps the terms of the contract in place for 10 years until a new agreement is reached or even if the unions refuse to bargain. Van de Putte said she does agree that the 10 year clause needs to be negotiated down to a more “reasonable” time frame.
During the first of five runoff debates between Taylor and Van de Putte, the candidates began to more clearly define their stances on the police union contract negotiations, center city development, and transportation, while also qualifying their very different leadership experiences.
After the forum, Taylor said she’s looking forward to digging into the specifics of governing San Antonio. “There’s a lot of talk about leadership, but let’s see how that translates into actual action on behalf of the citizens of San Antonio.”
Taylor has underscored throughout her campaign that she is not a “career politician,” and that being selected as interim mayor and subsequently running for a full term reflects her dedication as a “city planner and civil servant” rather than a career move.
Van de Putte served in the Texas Legislature for 24 years, first in the House and then 14 years in the Senate, which she says demonstrates her ability to “bring people together and get things done.”
Van de Putte dismissed the notion that being a career politician is a bad thing. “I’m a career mother and a grandmother and a pharmacist for 35 years. But I don’t mind being called a politician because that’s a skill set – that means you get things done.
“Ivy is a great planner,” she added. “There’s a big difference between a planner and a leader.”
During the forum, Taylor touted the fact that since she has worked in city government she’s never had to pull a party line or align herself with a platform – just her constituents.
“It is so erroneous to think that what we do at the capital is partisan, I’m going to tell the majority of the issues that we did were rural versus urban and it’s water – those that have it and those that don’t,” Van de Putte said.
When asked after the forum if Taylor considers Van de Putte as a friend, she hesitated. “I’ve gotten to know her more on the campaign trail than ever before,” she said, eventually saying, “Yes.”
When Van de Putte was asked the same of Taylor: “Absolutely,” she said. “We don’t have the luxury of holding any grudges. It’s really not about us. It’s about the people.”
Leticia won about 30% of the May 9 City Election vote compared to Taylor’s 28%. Former state Rep. Mike Villarreal finished a close third with 26% and former County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson a distant fourth with almost 10%.
Upcoming Mayoral Forums:
Wednesday, May 27: KTSA forum will broadcast live at 11:30 a.m.
Thursday, May 28: Time Warner and Express-News forum at 7 p.m. (Open to the public at UTSA’s Downtown Campus, 501 W. Cesar E. Chavez Blvd.)
Monday, June 1: Texas Public Radio forum will broadcast live at 3 p.m.
Wednesday, June 3: WOAI forum will broadcast live at 9 a.m.
This story was originally published on Thursday, May 14, 2015.
**CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated that Taylor was referring to Van de Putte’s departure from the Senate.
*Featured/top image: KLRN’s Texas Week host Rick Casey (left) interviews Leticia Van de Putte, and Mayor Ivy Taylor. Photo by Scott Ball.