Mayor Ivy Taylor speaks to the large crowd gathered at the brewery's ribbon cutting ceremony. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
Mayor Ivy Taylor speaks to the large crowd gathered at the brewery's ribbon cutting ceremony. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Mayor Ivy Taylor made it official Monday morning and said she has decided to seek a full term as mayor of San Antonio.

The Rivard Report broke the story Saturday that Mayor Taylor was poised to return from a mayors’ conference in New York this week and declare her candidacy. She confirmed her candidacy in a Monday morning interview with the Rivard Report.

“It took me awhile to make this decision, I know it’s pretty late in the race,” Mayor Taylor said. “I’m not a conventional candidate, but that just mirrors my record of service. I’m not a career politician. I have a lot to offer San Antonio. My municipal experience is substantial, and we’ve had a lot of turnover on City Council so stability now would serve the city well.”

Mayor Taylor said she gained a new perspective on the mayor’s job after serving the last seven months of an interim appointment following the departure of former Mayor Julián Castro, who resigned in late July to become Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration.

At the time she accepted City’s Council’s unanimous appointment, Mayor Taylor said, she had not considered running for the office after her term as the District 2 Council member came to an end.

“Without a crystal ball, I don’t know how anyone can know what they will do in the future, what’s right when the moment comes,” Mayor Taylor said, adding that she was appreciative of community leaders who are supportive of her decision to change her mind and enter the race.

One such person is former Mayor Henry Cisneros (1981-89) who now serves as chairman of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and who told the Rivard Report on Saturday:

“As chairman of the San Antonio Chamber I can’t make endorsements, but as chairman I want the city to have the most robust possible discussion about our city’s future and who is best to lead us,” Cisneros said. “I did make Ivy a promise that if she does decide to run I would come out and publicly state that what she said previously should not be a disqualifier. It shouldn’t be held against her. Voters deserve to choose from among the very best candidates. People like Ivy, she’s worked hard at the job, and she has done a good job in her time in office.”

Taylor said she values Cisneros’ “insight and guidance and I appreciate that he is willing to say what he said to you because he understands how dynamic this environment is, and I’m glad he sees what I bring to the table.”

Mayor Taylor made her candidacy official as she prepared for the annual Big Cities Mayors’ Meeting in Austin, an event started by former Mayor Phil Hardberger that gives Texas mayors an opportunity to align their legislative agendas in years when the Texas Legislature is in session and work on other issues of common concern.

The meeting is being hosted by Austin Mayor Steve Adler and includes Mayor Taylor, Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Tennel Atkins, Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere. The group represents the changing face of Texas cities. Three of the mayors are women, and three of the attendees are African-American.

One of the issues the mayors will be discussing is the rise of Uber, Lyft and rideshare services, and the challenges they pose in crafting municipal ordinances that regulate the services without stifling competition or affording unfair protections to the taxi industry, which has seen the rideshare companies deploy smart phone apps and a better service culture to quickly establish a thriving presence in urban markets.

Mayor Taylor spoke in support of a small working group of senior city officials in San Antonio who are crafting a revised rideshare ordinance that will be presented to City Council in the coming weeks. If approved, it will replace the original ordinance set to go into effect on March 1. The original ordinance, approved 7-2 by City Council in December, is one of the most restrictive in the nation and led Uber to announce it would end service in San Antonio if the regulations were not revised.

News of the work on the revised ordinance was first reported overnight by the Rivard Report. (Read more: City Crafting Alternative Rideshare Ordinance.)

That threat provoked a renewed public backlash, already strong, against the ordinance. Mayor Taylor said Monday she is comfortable with a fresh examination of the issue.

“I am an open-minded person, someone who is willing to respond to the circumstances at hand, and I don’t see anything wrong with being flexible,” she said. “We’ve always wanted to welcome rideshare, but we want to it to fit in San Antonio. A lot of cities are struggling with this issue. We did our best to write an ordinance that protected citizens, but we are willing to look at this evolving issue. The insurance aspect of it is something that needs attention.”

The ordinance set to go into effect on March 1 requires rideshare operators to carry $1 million liability policies, while Yellow Cab and other taxi operators typically purchase the state-mandated minimum of $30,000 liability per passenger.

Mayor Taylor is entering an already crowded mayor’s race. Former state Rep, Mike Villarreal has an eight-month jump on her, having launched his campaign in July of last year. State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, who also said last year she would not seek the office, entered the race after losing her November bid for the lieutenant governor’s seat against fellow state Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston). Former County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson also joined the race after losing his bid to unseat longtime Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.

Money and major endorsements will be the biggest challenges for Mayor Taylor to secure, entering the race with only weeks to go before the Feb. 27 filing deadline, and a campaign season that will run a little more than two months before early voting begins in late April for the May 9 election.

“I’ll be able to raise money,” Mayor Taylor said. “I doubt it will be a $1 million campaign, which is what some people said it would take to win office after Mayor Castro left for Washington. My campaign won’t have that kind of budget, but I am confident I will be able to effectively convey my message to voters.”

*Featured/top image: Mayor Ivy Taylor speaks to the large crowd gathered at the brewery’s ribbon cutting ceremony. Photo by Iris Dimmick. 

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Robert Rivard

Robert Rivard is co-founder and columnist at the San Antonio Report.