AAPI Heritage Month: Former Mayor David Chiu Made History as first Asian American Mayor in Texas

Former mayor David Chiu made history in 2000 when he became the first Asian American mayor in the state of Texas. He decided to enter his name in the mayoral race after years of serving on the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce board and the San Marcos CISD board.

“I realized that graduates are not quite up to par, you know,” said Chiu about his time on the school board. “So, I worked with the university and then the university and the city got involved.”

While working with Texas State, Chiu ended up working with City Council to help with projects between the two schools. “When I found there was no resolutions, I decided to throw my hat in the ring and run for the mayor’s office,” Chiu said. 

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The Free Press reported that Chiu received 52 percent of the vote after “a tight race” against city council member Ed Mihalkanin. On the night of his win, Chiu told a crowd, “I feel nervous but I’ll learn.”

With a background in business, Chiu went on to fight to put San Marcos on the map and bring in more businesses. 

“San Marcos was not even on the radar screen. So I said, ‘[whether the] boxer wins or loses, nobody knows. But if he challenges a champion boxer, even if he loses, everybody knows who he is.”

Regardless of the many projects he oversaw while in office, Mayor Chiu always kept one thing in mind when it came to his constituents and the future of San Marcos. “[As] the old saying goes, to treat people the way you want to be treated yourself. That's the most basic human to human relation to end.”

Chiu ended his mayoral term in 2002, when he was defeated by Robert Habingreither by 23 votes in a runoff election. Since then, Chiu went on to run a restaurant. He is now retired and still lives in San Marcos.