Elections 2021Local NewsRon Nirenberg Re-Elected Mayor of San Antonio After Quiet Campaign Season

Nirenberg will stay at the helm for a third term after a markedly unaggressive campaign strategy contrasted his 2019 run.
May 3, 2021
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San Antonio voters kept incumbent Ron Nirenberg in the mayor’s seat this weekend, with Nirenberg beating out opponent Greg Brockhouse by a wide 30-point margin.

Although Nirenberg’s muted campaign strategy made for a relatively tame race, San Antonio saw record-breaking turnout. Over 100,000 citizens voted before May 1, well above the previous record of 77,589 early voters in May 2017.

After the dust settled on Election Day, over 150,000 votes had been cast.

This marks the second loss to Nirenberg for Brockhouse, who came within four points of beating Nirenberg in 2019. It also marks the beginning of Nirenberg’s third term after he first ousted Ivy Taylor in 2017.

Nirenberg focused on the COVID-19 pandemic as the defining challenge of his tenure, though he has avoided addressing the issue unilaterally. On March 9 of this year, the day before Governor Greg Abbott’s statewide mask mandate came to a close, Nirenberg signed an order that required masks on all “public conveyances,” including airplanes and ride-shares. The order was not original to Nirenberg’s office; rather, it adopted an order issued by Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.

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Previously, Wolff and Nirenberg’s orders had threatened businesses with fines of up to $1,000 for not requiring masks. San Antonio’s COVID-19 website still displays this policy, though Abbott’s order said local governments cannot penalize businesses for letting customers go maskless.

Ironically, Proposition B may have contributed to Brockhouse’s loss.

Brockhouse, a steady supporter of firefighter and police unions, rose in the polls with more than half a million dollars of their support in 2019 according to the San Antonio Express-News. During this race, the San Antonio Police Association focused on fighting support for Prop B as it racked up high-profile endorsements from Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to perennial candidate Beto O’Rourke.

Nirenberg held his tongue on the controversial measure, which acquired a partisan taint as public attention grew statewide.

Proposition B would have ended collective bargaining power for the San Antonio Police Association. Fix SAPD, the group that got the proposition on the ballot, introduced it as an accountability measure. The San Antonio Police Association called it a step towards “defunding.”

Citing budgetary reasons, O’Rourke fought collective bargaining for public unions during his time on the El Paso City Council years ago after contracts between the city and the associations had locked taxpayers into mandatory pay raises amid financial straits.

Three San Antonio city council members await runoff results: District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño, District 2 Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan, and District 9 Councilman John Courage.

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Isaiah Mitchell

Isaiah Mitchell

Isaiah Mitchell is a reporter for The Texan, a Texas native, and a huge Allman Brothers fan. He graduated cum laude from Trinity University in 2020 with a degree in English. Isaiah loves playing music and football with his family.