Before becoming mayor last summer, Ivy Taylor represented San Antonio’s Eastside on the city council, leading an effort to win federal grants that would revitalize one of the poorest urban neighborhoods in the country. Besides winning actual money, she helped her district become a test case for the Obama administration’s Promise Zone initiative, a place-based antipoverty strategy. In the past few years, Eastside has benefited from more than $86 million in federal assistance, due in no small part to Taylor’s advocacy. And few mayors could be better poised to oversee urban redevelopment. Taylor has a master’s degree in city and regional planning, and work experience at a housing authority, a planning commission and an urban renewal agency.
The idea behind Promise Zones is to give children better opportunities than their parents had -- something Taylor understands. Her parents didn’t go to college, yet she attended Yale University and graduate school. Now the first African-American mayor to lead San Antonio, Taylor still lives on the Eastside. She ran on a platform of inclusive growth, promising to make sure the booming city won’t leave behind working-class residents. “We won’t have success,” she says, “if the people who’ve been there can’t share in the prosperity.”