VIDEO: Mayor Taylor Hopes On-The-Job Experience Will Earn A Second Term From Voters
San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor believes she's accomplished a lot in her first term as mayor. She's the front runner in her race for reelection, but facing strong opposition from two opponents. Today, we continue our conversations with the leading mayoral candidates by sitting down with Ivy Taylor. We met at the San Antonio Botanical Garden.
“Well this is one of my favorite places here in San Antonio. I don't get to spend as much time here as I'd like but I like everything that it represents: connecting people to nature, being good stewards of our environment, and having a little bit of time to be still,” Taylor says.
Surrounded by an overhead trellis of ivy, 46-year-old Ivy Taylor doesn’t consider herself a traditional politician. She thinks of herself as a devoted public servant who was a city employee and an affordable housing professional before she became the city’s highest elected official.
The cross Taylor wears around her neck is evidence of her commitment to God. Sitting in two rocking chairs not far from a fountain filled with bobbing toy ducks she talks about her devotion to her husband and daughter, and how being mayor, and running for re-election has changed their family life.
“Before I got on the City Council I was really obsessive about family meal time and we used to eat. I used to prepare dinner Monday through Thursday and then we would kind of eat out Friday, Saturday and Sunday. But my schedule just does not allow for me to do that on any type of consistent basis. I try to carve out time to do it when I can,” she says.
Taylor believes that during her first term as mayor she’s helped San Antonio tackle some thorny city problems
“I think my record of achievement during my first term as mayor has been really strong from addressing issues like, you know, stopping the stalemate with the police union to get us to a contract that provides savings for the taxpayers, but also raises for hardworking officers, you know, getting unanimous votes moving forward on a water supply project.”
Taylor, the likely front runner in her race for reelection- has had to defend her decisions on many of those issues. For example, the water supply project she’s talking about is Vista Ridge – a 142-mile pipeline that is being constructed to bring water from Burleson County to Bexar County. During a debate at TPR studios opponent Manuel Medina claimed Taylor backs the pipeline because her developers and business friends want it.
“Bottom line is, the candidate’s got $18,000 in contributions, special interests got this 3.4 billion pipeline and taxpayers are going to get the opportunity to pay for it,” Medina said.
“I’m not sure what the chairman’s talking about. I’ve not made any decisions on Vista Ridge based on any factor but our need to secure our water supply for the future,” Taylor responded.
Taylor dislikes the attacks that come with being a candidate, but enjoys talking about her work on the SA Tomorrow plan. SA Tomorrow is the city’s master plan for the next 20 years. When asked what she considers her biggest accomplishment, she named SA Tomorrow after careful thought.
“I see the plan as our opportunity to address so many interrelated policy issues. It's not just about transportation but it's also about housing and economic development and providing healthy neighborhoods throughout the city. To me the plan is really significant.”
Among those choices - how to tackle the growing problem of traffic gridlock. She says San Antonio isn’t ready for a city-wide rail system. What about toll roads?
“That's not an option that I would take off the table because I believe that you know given the tremendous amount of growth that we're experiencing that we have to look at any possibility as far as providing congestion relief to kind of address the lack of planning that occurred in the past.”
During Taylor’s mayoral term the homicide rate in San Antonio has hit a 21-year high. She says the police department has a violent crime task force that’s working on the problem and she’s looking for solutions.
“It's been very troubling and puzzling the rise of violent crime not just in San Antonio but in other cities as well. We've been proactive in trying to address it immediately.”
She one major factor in reducing crime depends on economic opportunities.
“Those who look like creating more pathways for people who have maybe attended failing schools or have somehow become disconnected from the mainstream to reconnect either through short-term job training or figuring out how to reengage them in more traditional educational paths and then putting them on the path to actually having jobs.”
In the $850 million bond package voters will decide May 6 on a proposition that provides $20 million for affordable housing. It’s a program Taylor has worked especially hard to put before voters. Providing affordable housing in a city where housing prices are rising is one of her top priorities.
“I certainly believe that me being in a leadership position is what's allowed us to advance the conversation and try to be innovative and do something different to specifically address housing.”
Taylor believes she’s the best candidate running for mayor because of her experience in the position. It’s that experience on her public service resume she hopes is enough for voters to give her a second term.