Police reform activists who have pushed for various changes to the city charter over the past four years were optimistic headed into the 2023 municipal election.

Though their 2021 proposed charter amendment aimed at eliminating collective bargaining rights for police failed by roughly 3,458 votes, it had found support among many voters in the city’s urban core, as well as precincts around UTSA and the South Texas Medical Center.

Two years later a different proposed charter amendment aimed at police reform — known as Proposition A — failed in all but 35 of the city’s 584 precincts.

The May 6 election results were recently canvassed by the Bexar County Elections Department. Twelve precincts reported an even split on Proposition A, while 53 precincts had zero votes cast for any race.

Of the 35 precincts where Proposition A succeeded, 11 were located in City Council District 1, which encompasses much of the city’s downtown business district. District 1 supported Prop A with roughly 36% of its vote, according to data provided by CSG Inc., a San Antonio political consulting firm that worked for a political action committee created to oppose the measure.

Fourteen of the precincts voting for Prop A were located in District 2, where roughly 40% of votes favored it. District 2’s progressive councilman, Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, was reelected to a second term on the same ballot.

No other council district contained more than four precincts that supported Proposition A.

“There’s not a geographic split. There’s not an ideological split. There’s not a single demographic responsible for defeating the proposition. It was pretty universal,” said CSG President Kelton Morgan, a San Antonio political consultant.

The San Antonio SAFE PAC, along with the police union’s PAC, spent big attacking a provision in Prop A that would compel police to issue citations instead of arrests for a list of low-level, nonviolent crimes.

The proposal also sought to decriminalize marijuana and abortion, create a city justice director, and ban the use of police chokeholds and no-knock warrants.

In total, roughly 72% of San Antonio’s municipal election voters rejected Proposition A, compared to 51% who voted against 2021’s Proposition B.

In District 9, a Northside council district that accounted for roughly 18% of the city’s overall votes, fewer than 20% of voters supported the initiative. Its councilman, John Courage, who opposed the measure, was reelected with 63% of the vote.

In District 10, which has consistently sent conservative representatives to the council, roughly 25% of voters supported Prop A.

Proposition A by council districts

Council district% against
District 163.85% against
District 259.93% against
District 370.40% against
District 471.23% against
District 564.19% against
District 671.86% against
District 769.58% against
District 873.14% against
District 980.46% against
District 1075.47% against
Total71.62% against

Proposed charter amendments have driven higher voter participation in San Antonio’s 2021 and 2023 municipal elections.

In 2023, with Proposition A on the ballot, roughly 18.82% of registered voters participated in the municipal election, according to Morgan. Roughly 142,700 San Antonio residents cast ballots.

Andrea Drusch writes about local government for the San Antonio Report. She's covered politics in Washington, D.C., and Texas for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, National Journal and Politico.