Come One, Come All!
Here’s Your Early Tipsheet of the Folks Running for City Council
By Michael King,
5:00PM, Fri. Jan. 10, 2014
Over the last several weeks, we've been compiling a catalog of potential November candidates for Austin Mayor and City Council. Here's our current master list of the entire field -- as 2014 proceeds, watch this space for additions and emendations.
The next municipal election – formerly a spring affair – takes place Nov. 4, 2014, when a new mayor and 10 City Council members will be chosen by Austin voters, the latter for the first time from single-member districts (each including approximately 80,000 residents). Until then, the full governmental effect of SMDs remains unknown.
But the immediate political effect is already manifesting: plenty of potential (or definite) candidates. Although the filing period (July 21-Aug. 18) and official campaign period (opening early May) are several months away, a number of folks have already declared their candidacies, and many more say they're in the "exploratory" or "seriously considering" stage. The mayoral dance card is already burgeoning, as are a few of the district races – others remain wide open at this early stage.
We’ve been compiling a catalog of potential candidates since just before the holidays – what follows is a compilation of our first three print stories - and the list continues to grow. We’ll continue to report on additional names, on the Chronicle’s Newsdesk daily coverage and also in the print edition, and we’ll try to maintain a master list of the Battle Royale To Come right here at austinchronicle.com.
We haven’t yet connected with everybody in the potential pool, but we’ve continued to contact as many real or rumored candidates as possible, to compile a list of "certains," "possibles," and "maybes." Nobody is actually “running” until they’ve actually filed for the office (every year somebody who’s claimed for months to be “running” never files the paperwork with the city clerk). But with a few exceptions, we don’t add a name until we’ve been able to confirm with that person that they’re running or considering a run; the exceptions occur when we’ve been told by several sources that a person is considering a run, but we haven’t yet been able to confirm his or her potential candidacy directly.
Consider it a work-in-progress: a pending candidate list (in alphabetical order) to ponder as the official campaign period approaches; undoubtedly it's incomplete – if you should be on it, or if you know someone considering a run, please drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As expected, at least two and perhaps three sitting Council members – term-limited from their current seats – are contemplating mayoral runs. The field is also filling up with local VIPs who will likely be able to underwrite a citywide campaign.
Stephen Adler, eminent domain attorney and co-founder of Barron & Adler, LLP, says he's been encouraged by "a fairly wide group of folks," and is considering a possible run.
Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole says she is "thinking about" a run, hopes to make a "family decision" by early spring.
Council Member Mike Martinez has not made a "final decision," but does "want to serve in that capacity at some point" and "would expect to be a candidate" to be a mayor "who understands the working people of this community."
Patsy Woods Martin is a community leader, and founder of "I Live Here, I Give Here" philanthropic effort; "friend and advisor" Robert Jones says she's "seriously exploring" a mayoral run and is in the "first phase" of that process.
Bill McLellan, former 3M executive, chief development officer at Family Eldercare, and longtime civic activist, is "certainly running" – and this week his Facebook page announced: "Candidate for Mayor."
Laura Morrison did not respond to queries, but is reportedly still considering a run.
Mark Williams, former AISD board chair, says he is being encouraged to run, and is "seriously considering" the idea.
DISTRICT 1 (East/Northeast)
Ora Houston, veteran civic activist (most recently in the single-member district campaign), is "definitely running," according to friend and longtime political consultant David Butts.
DeWayne Lofton, Place 6 candidate in 2006, says he's been "waiting a long time for another opportunity" and is "looking forward to seeing how this new system will work."
Sam Osemene, Austin Community College Assoc. Prof. of Government, small business owner, and 2008 Place 6 candidate says he’s a candidate and on Facebook: “The game is on. Get on board. We are moving forward. I need your support.”
DISTRICT 2 (Southeast)
Delia Garza, assistant attorney general, former firefighter (Local 975), and Charter Revision Committee member, says she "plans to run" and intends to "provide a voice for a part of Austin that hasn't had a voice."
Shaun Ireland: Former Place 6 candidate says "neighbors and supporters ... have encouraged [him] to run" and he's in "an early exploratory phase."
DISTRICT 3 (East/Southeast)
Susana Almanza, co-director of People Organized in the Defense of Earth and Her Resources, did not respond to Chronicle queries, but elsewhere has unofficially announced her candidacy.
Perla Cavazos, former Council candidate (2009) and legislative director for state Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston), is "leaning towards" another run, but remains in the "exploratory stage."
Nicholas Lucier, ACC student and local activist (currently on the anti-fluoride campaign); briefly ran for mayor in 2012 as a “Mushroom Tea Party” candidate; is promoting voting among students and artists; says that “through the mobilization of the local student population and art scene, I foresee a great shift coming to Austin in 2014.”
Jayme Mathias, current AISD board member, is "committed to completing his term" but is being "encouraged to consider" a run by supporters.
Fred McGhee, author and public housing advocate, is "strongly considering" a run and would be a "serious candidate."
Eric J. Rangel, a Place 4 candidate against Laura Morrison in 2011, was out of the country over the holiday, but returned to say, “I am highly considering running for City Council's representative in District 3.”
DISTRICT 4 (North/Central)
Gregorio Casar, Workers Defense Project political director, is "considering it very seriously" and "will make a decision over the holidays."
Thomas Gohring: The owner of Kick Butt Coffee and Master Gohring's Tai Chi & Kung Fu is considering a run, but has a geographic conundrum – his businesses are in District 4 (Airport Boulevard at Koenig Lane), but he lives in District 7.
Roberto Perez Jr.: Goodwill Industries project coordinator and neighborhood Rundberg Revitalization Team co-chair says he's "considering his options" and "sees the need of someone who lives [in] and has knowledge of the area ... [and] should have a decision in early February."
Laura Pressley: Several sources told us that former Place 2 candidate Pressley has moved into District 4 and is considering another run, and her Facebook page currently features an "Elect Laura Pressley" sign. Asked directly if she's running, Pressley responded: "I'm not sure if I'll run for City Council next year. ... There is a lot on my plate right now."
DISTRICT 5 (Central/South)
Fred Cantu: Political consultant and longtime Democratic activist, most recently for single-member districts (Austin Tejano Democrats chair, and last week noted as possible candidate), is "strongly considering" a run in light of a "need for fresh blood" on Council.
Jason R. Denny: Executive director of Texas Young Republicans and GOP chair of Precinct 408 says he's "exploring the opportunity to represent the citizens of South Austin," and already has a Facebook campaign page.
Jeff Jack, architect, city planning commissioner, and longtime City Hall activist, is "seriously considering" a run and reviewing both his personal circumstances and the political context.
Ann Kitchen, former Texas House member and Liveable City leader, is "definitely running" and "hoping to represent the whole district that might not feel fully represented now."
DISTRICT 6 (Northwest/West)
Jimmy Flannigan, Web business owner and Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce president, is "seriously considering" a run but hasn't certainly decided yet.
Jade Change Sheppard, recently a Democratic candidate for state House District 50, says she’s “not ruling out” a Council run, and is in the process of “seriously considering it” and “analyzing the district.”
Matt Stillwell, small business owner and former state House candidate, "will run."
Jay Wiley, former George W. Bush and Phil Gramm aide, and former Federalist Society president, already has a campaign website (www.jaywileyforaustin.com), and a no tax, no spend, no bag-ban platform.
DISTRICT 7 (North/Central)
Jeb Boyt, mass transit and parks advocate, is "definitely" planning to run.
Josiah Ingalls, who ran for mayor in 2009 and Council in 2011 (Place 1), says he’s considering a run.
Ben Leffler, public policy professional and former city auditor/investigator, is "considering" a run, but has made no decision yet.
DISTRICT 8 (South/Southwest)
Rebecca Bray: Engineering senior project manager (Brown & Gay Engineers, Inc.) and Real Estate Council of Austin board member has confirmed to the Chronicle that she's "seriously considering" a run while "performing her due diligence" and waiting on the release of "final election rules."
Eliza May, longtime civic activist, is "very seriously considering" a run and "exploring the political landscape" toward reaching a decision soon.
Darrell Pierce, former Council candidate and management consultant/business owner, is "close to a decision" to make another run.
Ed Scruggs, civic activist (most recently on local gun control issues), is "carefully considering a run" and expects his early decision process to "come into focus after the new year."
DISTRICT 9 (Central)
Chris Riley, Place 1 Council incumbent, "doesn't expect to make a formal decision until spring" but is "very excited by the prospect" of a district campaign marked by "knocking on neighborhood doors."
Kathie Tovo, Place 3 Council incumbent, is "seriously considering" another run and "expects to make a decision in the next couple of weeks."
DISTRICT 10 (West/Northwest)
Marjorie Burciaga, small business owner and community volunteer, is "seriously considering" a run and is in the exploratory stages of assembling a potential campaign.
Tina Cannon, former Place 5 candidate and educator/entrepreneur, already has a Facebook page – "Elect Tina Cannon" – and has been "encouraged by the support" she's receiving in the new District 10.
Mandy Dealey, former Place 3 candidate and long-serving commissioner-of-all-trades is being "encouraged" to run and is "considering" it, but says it's "not likely" at this time.
Sheri Gallo: Realtor, former chair of Housing Authority of Austin, former board member of RECA; ran unsuccessfully as GOP candidate for Precinct 2 County Commissioner in 2002 (as Sheri Perry Gallo). She's "seriously considering" a run and reaching out to potential supporters, and says that under single-member districts, "I think that a person with my fiscally conservative (spend wisely), socially moderate views can be elected to the City Council."
Matt Lamon, longtime Austinite and currently chief of staff to state Rep. J.M. Lozano (R, Kingsville), says he “intends to seek the seat” and he’s “looking forward to working on issues that matter most to Austinites.”
Jason Meeker, former Place 1 candidate and current Zoning and Platting Commissioner, says he's not ready to make an announcement, but is "considering" a run.
Robert Thomas, management consultant, ran as a Republican against state Rep. Donna Howard in HD 48 in 2012; on his campaign Facebook page, he recently posted: "To be clear, we are VERY seriously inclined to run to represent our home area on the city council."