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Suburban voters reaching both deep into the South Side and across much of the North Side helped defeat Proposition B, which would have stripped San Antonio’s police union of its ability to bargain collectively.

The proposition failed, 48.8% to 51.2%, or by a difference of 3,458 votes, according to the official vote tally. There were 150,208 ballots cast on the proposition, one of two on the May 1 ballot, with 1,556 undervotes.

The proposition, which police reform group Fix SAPD got onto the ballot via a petition drive, was credited with helping turn out a higher than typical number of voters for a May election. With 17% turnout, the election also featured races for mayor and City Council.

Mapping out precinct-level results from the election shows support for the proposition was clustered in the city’s urban core, reaching deep into the East Side and up along Interstate 10, around the University of Texas at San Antonio and the area around the South Texas Medical Center.

Activists pushing for approval of Prop B, including Fix SAPD, said the collective bargaining process results in contract provisions that allow cops fired for misconduct to return to the force.

Fix SAPD Deputy Director Ananda Tomas said the night of the election that the proposition, though it failed, had “changed the conversation of policing and police reform in San Antonio.”

San Antonio Police Officers Association leaders had said the changes to collective bargaining, had Prop B passed, would have meant fewer job protections and effectively resulted in “defunding” benefits for police, making it harder to attract qualified officers.

Danny Diaz, president of the police union, called the May 1 vote a “victory for the citizens of San Antonio.”

The proposition’s fate had become a lightning rod for elections across the city, as some city council candidates made its potential passage a central plank of their campaigns. Patrick Von Dohlen in District 9 said its passage would have increased crime.

Prop B would have repealed San Antonio’s adoption of Chapter 174 of the Texas Local Government Code, which grants the union its collective bargaining rights. Passage would not have disbanded the San Antonio Police Officers Association nor removed all paths for it to negotiate new labor contracts.

Waylon Cunningham

Waylon Cunningham writes about business and technology. Contact him at waylon@sareport.org.