San Antonio voters soundly reject Proposition A in 2023 election

San Antonio’s Proposition A, an omnibus ballot measure that aimed to decriminalize abortion and low-level marijuana possession, ban no-knock warrants and chokeholds by law enforcement, create a new position of “justice director” at City Hall and require police to issue citations for certain low-level, nonviolent offenses instead of making arrests, was defeated last Saturday by almost a 3-to-1 margin. As of Saturday evening, vote totals were still being counted.

The measure was spearheaded by local activist group ACT 4 SA, which gathered enough signatures to have it included on the ballot. However, it encountered resistance from the beginning. In March, an Austin-based anti-abortion group filed a petition with the Texas Supreme Court, claiming that Prop A’s various proposals should be voted independently of one another. The court denied the petition six to three, citing that its objective was not to interfere in elections.

But one of the main points of contention in this measure, enforceability, remained unresolved. City Attorney Andy Segovia has explained that Texas law supersedes local ordinance, negating almost everything the Justice Charter sought to implement except for the creation of the justice director position.

To campaign for the measure was to fight a losing battle. As of Tuesday, approximately $441,000 had been spent in support of the proposition, while more than $1.8 million had been spent in opposition, primarily by the PAC Protest SA and the San Antonio Police Officers Association. In early April, Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who is almost guaranteed to win his fourth term, went against Proposition A, considering it problematic. His reasoning was that the proposition collected so many issues into one single vote, which forced people to vote up or down on a single measure.

However, ACT 4 SA’s executive director, Ananda Tomas, contested the mayor’s reasoning for opposing Prop A, stating that city leaders had already had the opportunity to take action independently on the various issues raised by the measure. She indicated that the measure represented a clear message to San Antonio about where it stands on abortion access, marijuana decriminalization, policing, and public safety that would inform city policy for years to come.

According to Jon Taylor, chair of political science at UTSA, the opposition poured more money into their campaign than ACT 4 SA did. Taylor emphasized that the “Vote No” forces were able to set the narrative early by framing the issue as a matter of “law and order,” and that the dubious legal ground for the city to enforce the Justice Charter did not help make the case with voters. He surmised that the results of Saturday’s vote may indicate whether ACT 4 SA is willing to achieve its objectives through a “multipronged approach” and conceded that Mayor Nirenberg has his own priorities for changes to the city charter.

Related Articles

Back to top button