POLITICS

San Antonio could pick its first Latina mayor in runoff election

Leticia Van de Putte

Leticia Van de Putte  (2008 Getty Images)

San Antonio is on the verge of making history.

The runoff mayoral election scheduled for Saturday will produce either the first elected Latina or African-American to head the city.

Former state senator Leticia Van de Putte is challenging the city's acting mayor, Ivy Taylor, who was appointed after Julian Castro stepped down to serve as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration.

In a race that drew 14 candidates, Van de Putte received last month nearly 31 percent of the vote while Taylor got 28 percent, putting them into the runoff.

Latinos are the majority of voters in San Antonio, comprising slightly more than 63 percent of the population.

San Antonio's changing demographics in its leadership is also echoed in other places in Texas, the Texas Tribune noted.

Van de Putte, a pharmacist and mother of six children, was a force behind Texas' anti-human trafficking legislation and improving health care for low-income children. She was co-chair of the Democratic National Convention in 2008.

The Democrat ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor last fall, losing to Republican state senator Dan Patrick.

Many voters in that election did not realize Van de Putte is a Latina. The state senator, who is of Mexican descent, uses her husband’s surname and has said that she did not want to "exploit" or play up her heritage for political gain.

Last year Taylor, who had been serving on the City Council, was chosen by her fellow council members in a 5-3 vote, to succeed Castro.

She counts among her achievements on the council an effort she led to bring over $50 million in federal funding for revitalization of San Antonio’s Eastside neighborhood.

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