In what became a bitter campaign for the East Side City Council seat, challenger Jalen McKee-Rodriguez defeated District 2 Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan during the runoff election Saturday night.
McKee-Rodriguez captured 63.1% (2,961) of the vote total, while Andrews-Sullivan received 36.9% (1,731).
McKee-Rodriguez, a former staff member of Andrews-Sullivan, showed up to his election night watch party in a leopard-print suit.
“When I was in City Hall, I was wearing an all black outfit with leopard print and the chief of staff said I wasn’t professional enough, nor manly and masculine enough,” he said at Tucker’s Kozy Korner. “We just proved that animal print is professional enough and we just unseated those two.”
McKee-Rodriguez, when he’s sworn in, will be the first openly-gay council member in San Antonio’s history.
The two candidates, who are former colleagues, have had a contentious campaign against each other.
McKee-Rodriguez, who worked in Andrew-Sullivans’ City Council office as her communications director, said he experienced homophobic discrimination from the office’s chief of staff, Lou Miller, he told the San Antonio Express-News. McKee-Rodriguez has criticized Andrews-Sullivan for receiving donations from property developers in San Antonio. During the May 16 forum, McKee-Rodriguez told attendees at the Ella Austin Community Center he would not accept donations from property developers.
Andrews-Sullivan seemed to concede early in the evening.
“We did our best for our community and we’re thankful for the opportunity,” Andrew-Sullivan told the Heron via text in what appeared to be an apparent concession.
McKee-Rodriguez, a Madison High School math teacher, campaigned on increasing affordable housing, economic recovery, government access and transparency, ending city contracts with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), progressive healthcare, infrastructure, housing and environment reform for District 2.
Andrews-Sullivan, an Army vet who was vying for a second term on the dais, has emphasized the “revolving door” District 2’s office holders, referring to District 2 council members not being re-elected for a second term since former San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor in 2013. During a candidate forum hosted by NowCastSA and the San Antonio Heron on May 16, Andrews-Sullivan described the turnover as a “revolving door of inconsistency.” In the same forum, Andrews-Sullivan said the city’s infrastructure improvements for District 2 needed to continue under her leadership.
Andrews-Sullivan also campaigned on public safety, COVID vaccinations, affordable housing and economic development, according to her website.
McKee-Rodriguez had led Andrews-Sullivan by 820 votes, about a 10% advantage, on May 1, the initial Election Day. Eleven candidates total ran for the District 2 seat. McKee-Rodriguez outraised Andrews-Sullivan and the 10 other candidates, too, to the tune of $30,681.
But as the campaign got more intense, so did the amount of donations.
McKee-Rodriguez had raised $20,457.02 eight days before the runoff election, according to campaign finance reports. Andrews-Sullivan nearly tripled that, receiving $60,620 between April 22 and the eighth day before the runoff election, May 26. She spent more than half of it: $35,468.81. McKee-Rodriguez spent $22,241.16. This year’s city council election saw $600,000 in spending and donations among the candidates, the Express-News reported.
Gaige Davila is the editor of the Port Isabel-South Padre Press and South Padre Parade, based in Port Isabel, and former Heron staff writer. Follow him at @GaigeDavila on Twitter.
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