Even in the stormy weather on Saturday, May 1, 2021, voter turnout in San Antonio was at an all-time high for the election at 17%. However, there was little change from the status quo as the incumbent mayor was reelected, and only one of the two propositions on the ballots succeeded.
Incumbent Mayor Ron Nirenberg avoided a runoff by garnering 62% of the vote for reelection to his 3rd term as San Antonio’s mayor. His primary opponent in the previous election cycle, Greg Brockhouse, failed to receive as much support as he did in 2018 when he forced a runoff. This year, Brockhouse only received 32% of the vote and conceded mere hours after polls closed.
The mayoral race was not the main attraction. Instead, voters turned out to vote on Proposition B, which would have removed the power of the San Antonio Police Union to collectively bargain with the city. For many voters, it was closer to a referendum on whether they supported or opposed the police force. In a narrow margin, Prop B was defeated.
Because police reform is a hot button issue right now, strong campaigns were formed both for and against the proposition. Supporters and detractors of Prop B electioneered outside a polling location at San Antonio College and many other locations around the city.
Proposition A, which granted further flexibility for what projects the city can fund with bond money, passed with 58% of the vote.
The incumbent city councilmen in districts 4, 6, 7, 8, and 10 all won reelection by comfortable margins. The closest was in the 10th as the only conservative on the City Council, Clayton Perry, was able to hold off challenger Ezra Johnson to gain reelection with 54% of the vote.
A runoff election will be held on June 5 in five of the districts: 1, 2, 3, 5, and 9. Two incumbents will face challengers: Roberto C. Trevino will face a runoff against Mario Bravo, and John Courage will have to hold off Patrick Von Dohlen.
Around Texas, conservatives won several other major victories. Lubbock became the largest unborn sanctuary city in America as it passed an ordinance banning abortion, with 62% of the voters supporting it. In Austin, the ban on public camping was reinstated by a similarly wide margin of 57% as Austinites finally decided to do something about the homelessness crisis in the city.
Down on the border, conservative candidates did surprisingly well in a historically Democratic part of the state. The two conservative candidates in the McAllen mayoral race combined for almost 50% of the vote in the heavily Hispanic city that voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden in 2020. The leading vote-getter was Republican Javier Villalobos and will face off against Democrat Veronica Vela Whitacre in the runoff election.
In Fort Worth, Republicans blew away their competition in the special election for the Texas 6th Congressional seat. All the Republican candidates combined for over 61% of the vote in a district that Trump only won by 3%, outperforming him by 22%.
Cover image is a photograph of the Bexar County Elections Department building taken by Ellis Jacoby.