|Ronald Adrian "Ron" Nirenberg|
|Assumed office |
June 21, 2017
|Preceded by||Ivy Ruth Taylor|
Member of the San Antonio City Council for District 8 (Northwest)
July 1, 2013 – June 21, 2017
|Succeeded by||Manny Pelaez|
|Born|| April 4, 1977|
Reared in Austin, Texas
|Political party||Nominally non-partisan|
|Spouse(s)||Erika Prosper Nirenberg|
|Website|| City website|
Ronald Adrian Nirenberg, known as Ron Nirenberg (born April 11, 1977), is an American politician who has been the mayor of San Antonio, Texas, the seventh largest city in the United States, since June 21, 2017. Though he is not officially a Democrat, as are nearly all big-city mayors, he holds a non-partisan position. Nirenberg calls himself a "progressive" and was endorsed for mayor by the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer group, the Stomewall Democrats of Texas.
With 54.6 percent of the ballots cast, Nirenberg unseated in a runoff the more conservative Ivy Ruth Taylor, an African-American native of Brooklyn, New York City, who served just over two years as mayor following the resignation of the Hispanic liberal Julian Castro, who joined the second term administration of former U.S. President Barack H. Obama as the secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Nirenberg was the first candidate for mayor in twenty years to unseat an incumbent in the municipal election. Prior to his becoming mayor, he served for four years as the District 8 member of the city in the northwestern portion of the city.
Nirenberg is of multi-ethic background, with Jewish descent on his father's side and Filipino, Malaysian, British, and Roman Catholic heritage from his mother. His parents met while they were serving with the Peace Corps in Malaysia. He is neither Jewish nor Catholic but a United Methodist. Nirenberg was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but moved to Austin with his parents when he was a toddler. He has been a long-term devotee of weightlifting and frequently works out at the Barshop Jewish Community Center on Northwest Military Highway in San Antonio. He was on the wrestling team in high school. When he first ran for the city council, opponents distributed a flier of him shirtless and ridiculed his choice of the topic for his thesis at the Annenberg Center and his job as manager of the jazz radio station at Trinity University.
Nirenberg attended the private Trinity University in San Antonio, at which he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in communications. He later attended the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, from which in 2001, he procured his Master of Arts, also in communications. He wrote a thesis on the autoethnography about the sub-culture of bodybuilding. After college, he was a program director for nine years for the Annenberg Public Policy Center in Philadelphia. During summers he worked in San Antonio for a non-profit organization on educational issues.
In 2013, Nirenberg supported the city ordinance which bans discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, a measure that Taylor, who was also a city council member at the time, opposed. Taylor further objected to the city's filing of a lawsuit against the state law which holds municipal officials to a misdemeanor offense if they refuse to cooperate with federal authorities in enforcement of illegal immigration. Signed by Governor Greg Abbott, the law targets the sanctuary city movement. Shortly before taking office, Mayor Nirenberg called upon the city council to endorse the Paris climate accord though U.S. President Donald Trump announced plans to remove the United States from the agreement. Nirenberg said that he has ideas of how to fund the accord: "I hope that as a community we will all agree that being driven by science and data is a good thing."
Nirenberg is married to the former Erika Prosper, a Latina originally from south Texas whose parents were migrant farm workers. They wed at Magnolia Gardens in San Antonio. She is the director of customer insights for the large H-E-B grocery chain. The couple met as students at the Annenberg School. They have a son, Jonah. In 2018, Mrs. Nirenberg, who formerly worked for the Lationo advertising guru Lionel Sosa, is the 2018 president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, in which capacity, she is focused on her vision of "ensuring that every child feels [he has] a future here in San Antonio."
In March 2018, the Nirembergs traveled to Philadelphia at the invitation of the Annenberg School so that he could present the 2018 George Gerbner Lecture in Communications, an annual event featuring an alumnus considered to have made a significant contribution to society.
Jeff Niederdeppe, an associate professor of communications at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and a former classmate of Nirenberg, said that the mayor was "interested in making San Antonio a better place, and he'd always articulate "maverick" political positions. He's the most disciplined person I've ever met." (Coincidentally, the mayor of San Antonio from 1939 to 1941 was named "Maverick": Fontiane Maury Maverick, Sr, (1895-1954), a Democrat.)
When the Republican National Committee asked San Antonio municipal officials to submit a bid for the 2020 national party convention, Nirenberg agreed to meet with the city council to discuss the request but seemed hesitant over seeking the convention. Former Mayor Phil Hardberger, a liberal Democrat and a former judge, strongly opposes San Antonio hosting the GOP conclave. Hardberger said a political convention would cost the city more than the short-term boost in the downtown economy. He even predicted that rioting could occur because many in the Hispanic-majority city view U.S. President Donald Trump with disdain. (Trump polled nearly 41 percent of the vote in Bexar County in 2016.) Hardberger recalled that Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago was politically harmed by allegations of police brutality stemming from demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic National Convention and that party nominee Hubert Humphrey lost his presidential bid to Richard M. Nixon. As it developed, San Antonio will not submit a bid to the RNC. Nirenberg claimed that the cost of pursuing the convention, which would bring 15,000 reporters to the city, outweights the estimated $200 million economic impact of such an event. The host city would have to raise $700 million, $6 million from public funds, to attract the convention. Clayton Perry and Greg Brockhouse, the only conservatives on the city council, criticized the decision on grounds that San Antonio is forfeiting an opportunity to be in the international spotlight.
Ron Kaufman, the site-selection chair for the RNC, disputed Mayor Nirenberg's claim that taxpayers would be compelled to underwrite costs of a convention. Kaufman said that the financial burden for such a convention, $65 million, does not rest with the host city but the host committee, a non-profit organization created to oversee the convention. The host committee would solicit donations from well beyond the local community. Despite the city's refusal to host the RNC in 2020, San Antonio hosted the Republican Party of Texas state convention in June 2018.
In his bid for a second mayoral term in the election held on May 4, 2019, Nirenberg finished first in a multi-candidate field with 48 percent of the ballots cast. He now faces in a runoff election his more conservative opponent, city council member Greg Brockhouse, who polled 45 percent of the ballots. The other 7 percent was split among a group of largely unknown candidates. Brockhouse said, "Now I have to get my folks back out and talk about the things that matter most–lower property taxes, religious freedom at city hall, infrastructure, fighting crime, jobs, and wages."
In the runoff contest on June 8, Nirenberg prevailed over Brockhouse, 61,699 votes (51 percent) to 59,024 (49 percent).
- Sam Sanchez (March 26, 20176). Stonewall Democrats Endorse Nirenberg for Mayor. outinsa.com. Retrieved on March 24, 2018.
- Ron Nirenberg sworn in as mayor of San Antonio. News 4 San Antonio (NBC) (June 21, 2017). Retrieved on June 22, 2017.
- San Antonio Elects Progressive Mayor Who Celebrates His Jewish Heritage. The Jewish Daily Forward (June 12, 2017).
- Richard A. Marini (June 16, 2017). Mayor-elect is fit to lead. Like, really fit. San Antonio Express-News (Hearst Media). Retrieved on March 24, 2018.
- Josh Baugh, "For Nirenberg, it was love at first sight: Instant attraction didn't hit his wife", San Antonio Express-News, March 18, 2018, pp. A, A14.
- Anenberg Public Policy Center: Ron Nirenberg. Annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org. Retrieved on June 17, 2017.
- Josh Baugh, "Nirenberg taking a progressive focus", San Antonio Express-News, June 17, 2016.
- Erika Prosper Nirenberg. San Antonio Woman Magazine (January/February 2018). Retrieved on March 24, 2018.
- Josh Baugh, "Council to discuss '20 convention bi: Mayor to ask if city should pursue GOP", The San Antonio Express-News, April 27, 2018, pp. !. A11.
- Josh Baugh, "S.A. won't try to get the GOP's national convention", The San Antonio Express-News, May 4, 2018, pp. 1, A10.
- Gilbert Garcia, "Nirenberg draws rebuttal from RNC official", The San Antonio Express-News, May 11, 2018, p. A2.
- Dylan McGuinness (February 16, 2019). All eyes on the mayoral duel in San Antonio’s May elections. Msn.com. Retrieved on February 19, 2019.
- Elizabeth Ruiz (May 4, 2019). Nirenberg, Brockhouse in Runoff for San Antonio Mayor's Office. KTSA.com. Retrieved on May 6, 2010.
- San Antonio Mayor Election Returns. KENS-TV (CBS) in San Antonio. Retrieved on June 8, 2019.