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Taylor, Nirenberg Target Voters In Final Days Of Election

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
Councilman Ron Nirenberg and Mayor Ivy Taylor are spending their final campaign hours reaching as many voters as they can.

As the hard-fought mayoral race  comes to a close,  District 8 Councilman Ron Nirenberg and incumbent Mayor Ivy Taylor are pulling out all the stops to get their supporters to the polls.  This is Election Day, and at 7 pm the months of campaigning, debating and knocking on doors will be over. 

Councilman Ron Nirenberg has a system when he approaches the home of a likely voter.

Credit Joey Palacios / Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio
Councilman Nirenberg talks with a southside voter

“After doing this thousands of times, you come up with a little rhythm. I ring once, knock seven times and count to ten and if nothing happens by then I put the hanger on and walk to the next house,” Nirenberg says.

Nirenberg has been on council since 2013. He runs on the slogan “the City you deserve.” he says he and his campaign supporters have knocked on tens of thousands of doors.  On Thursday night he covered several streets near Roosevelt and Loop 410. Nirenberg was knocking on the doors of homes with voters who hadn’t yet cast  ballots in the run-off .

“A number of active voters in this community still need to get out for election day. They haven’t gone out during early voting in the proportions that we would expect. So we try to make sure they get the message,” he says.

Meanwhile Taylor spent Thursday night at Vida Abundant Grace Church on South Presa St. It was holding what it called a city wide prayer service.

“When I was a District 2 council member it was kind of an expectation that people visit churches, and when I became mayor I said ‘oh now I get to visit churches throughout the city’ so I’ve not just visited churches during campaign season I’ve visited churches throughout my tenure as mayor.”

At one point Mayor Taylor led a prayer from the stage.

Credit Joey Palacios / Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio
Mayor Ivy Taylor leads a prayer service Thursday night at a church off South Presa Rd.

“I come to your with a grateful and thankful heart, God. We come to you thanking you, God, for all your many blessings … Lord I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to serve this city. Lord, we pray this evening for our wonderful city of San Antonio,” she said from the stage.

Both candidates are steeped in city hall experience and public policy - it’s just that they don’t always agree on issues and the direction for the city.  One of their biggest differences- the city’s contract with police   

Nirenberg voted against the police union contract Taylor helped negotiate.    His opposition to the deal helped gain Nirenberg the ire of the San Antonio Police Officer’s Association – It sent out attack mailers this week. One calls Nirenberg a puppet; another has his face on a child’s See and Say toy asking “Which Ron Is running For Mayor.

“It certainly reeks of desperation,” Nirenberg said.

Nirenberg’s direct mail also targets Taylor.  It claims her policies have increased San Antonio’s violent crime rate.

“It’s part of the problem because we know have one of the fewest officers per capita of any big city in the country and part of the issue with the contract that she pushed on council is that it’s structurally unbalanced. It’s going to make that a challenge that’s even more difficult to overcome in the future,” he added.

Taylor refutes that.

“I think it’s irresponsible to try to get people really worked up. One of the mailers I think referred to a crime crisis. I just don’t think that kind of language is where we need to be,” she said.

After serving a s a councilmember and interim mayor Taylor defeated Leticia Van de Putte to become mayor in 2015.  She says Nirenberg tries to depict the city as falling apart- which is false.

“For me its about serving the citizens. It’s not about my personal ambition I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to serve and I believe god has given me the skill set  to be able to bring people together and advance the city and I want to have the opportunity to continue doing just that,” Taylor says.

Whether block walking or mingling with a church crowd Nirenberg and Taylor are focusing their last minute appeals on turning out the voters they attracted in the first round-  plus enough additional  votes to win.

“Oh sure, you’ve got my vote.” 

And it’s that sound that’s music to their ears. 

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules