Jalen McKee-Rodriguez becomes first openly gay man elected to San Antonio City Council

Challenger received 62% of the vote compared to 38% for the incumbent

Jalen McKee-Rodriguez (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – Jalen McKee-Rodriguez defeated incumbent Jada Andrews-Sullivan in the race for District 2 runoff on Saturday night, becoming the first openly gay man to be elected to the San Antonio City Council.

With all the votes counted, McKee-Rodriguez captured 63% of the vote compared to 37% for Andrews-Sullivan, a difference of 1,230 votes. It was one of five runoff City Council elections held Saturday.

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“I vow to be that leader who is going to be working hard every single day,” McKee-Rodriguez, 25, told KSAT 12 Saturday night.

Andrews-Sullivan, who won her only term in office in 2019, said Saturday night, “We did our best for our community and we’re thankful for the opportunity.”

McKee-Rodriguez, a former teacher who previously worked for Andrews-Sullivan as a communications director, said that his historic victory on San Antonio’s East Side proved a lot of people wrong.

”A lot of people said that District 2 wouldn’t be ready for a candidate like me. Would District 2 be ready for a young, gay candidate? Is Texas ready for a young, gay Black man to be elected anywhere into any position? And, so I think what we proved and what the community proved is that everyone deserves representation. And if you have the right motives, if you have the right passions, and if you’re a good listener, the people will trust that,” he said. “I’m excited to be passing the torch and provide a voice for young people because we’re not represented in a number of ways at City Hall and in our government locally and nationally. And so I won’t take that lightly either.”

Robert Salcido Jr., executive director of Pride Center San Antonio, told KSAT 12 that McKee-Rodriguez’s victory comes at the right time for the Alamo City.

“It is historic to see a Black, out and proud gay candidate like Jalen McKee-Rodriguez be elected to the San Antonio City Council. At a time when racism, homophobia, and other issues that disproportionately affect people of color and LGBTQ+ people, Jalen will bring unique perspectives based on lived experiences never before represented in San Antonio. Being the first openly gay Black man elected in San Antonio, the first openly gay Black man elected in Texas, is representation at its finest. It’s historic,” Salcido said in a statement to KSAT.

The District 2 race heated up recently with allegations of homophobia.

McKee-Rodriguez said recently on social media that some pastors on the East Side told congregants that a vote for him is a sin.

The pastors denied the accusations, saying that they are endorsed Andrews-Sullivan for her work as councilwoman.

McKee-Rodriguez said he resigned his staff position in 2019 in Andrews-Sullivan’s office because of retaliation he faced after telling her about issues with another staff member’s treatment of him as an openly gay man, which Andrews-Sullivan denied.

While McKee-Rodriguez is the first openly gay man to be elected to City Council, Elena Guajardo was the first openly gay person elected to City Council in 2005.

Candidates for San Antonio City Council District 2 will appear in a live forum at 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 25, hosted by the San Antonio Observer. (Copyright 2021 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

About the Authors:

David Ibañez has been managing editor of KSAT.com since the website's launch in October 2000.

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.