Jalen McKee-Rodriguez beat the odds when he beat the incumbent for a seat pm San Antonio City Council, making him the first openly gay Black man ever to be elected in Texas.
Texas is known for its contentious and aggressively conservative politics, but a new generation of leaders like Jalen McKee-Rodriguez is spearheading progressive change. While he was a high school math teacher, the 2016 election of Donald Trump sparked an interest in politics. He started working on local campaigns as communications director for San Antonio Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan. After becoming disillusioned and quitting in 2019 over alleged anti-gay harassment and discrimination from colleagues, McKee-Rodriguez decided to run against Andrews-Sullivan and 10 others for her City Council seat. The 26-year-old ran on a progressive platform focused on accessible housing, community safety, education, and accountability to his district. He made it to a runoff with incumbent Andrews-Sullivan and beat his former boss by a landslide, making him the first openly gay Black man elected in Texas. McKee-Rodriguez hit the ground running as promised with proposals to consult criminologists on crime prevention, address neglected infrastructure and create a media-based afterschool program. The forward-thinking councilman told Spectrum News 1, "What I always say is that as a teacher, I got to prepare my students for the world as it exists now. And now that I'm a councilman, now that I'm elected, I can prepare the world for my students."