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The Road to 10-1: Catching Up

Who’s in, who’s out, who’s who?

By Michael King, 1:45PM, Mon. Jul. 28, 2014

The Real Gabe Rojas
The Real Gabe Rojas
Courtesy of Gabe Rojas

The July 15 campaign finance deadline set off a flurry of 10-1 activity, much of which we covered in the Chronicle’s July 18 overview (“Now We Begin”). Nevertheless, the campaign dust has hardly settled yet – July 18 also marked the opening of formal ballot application – so here’s a brief update on what’s been happening since.

Although nearly 70* candidates (mayor and 10 City Council districts) now have said they’re running (and we’ll attempt a more precise number when our heads stop spinning), as of Monday afternoon only 14 had filed a formal ballot application (the next step in the process). That number now includes Delia Garza (District 2), Melissa Zone (District 7), Becky Bray (District 8), and Matt Lamon (District 10).

MK Note: *Late Monday night head count: 70 candidates in all! Newsdesk forgot to account for David Senecal, who recently filed a ballot application in District 5 -- we just haven't tracked him down yet.

The ballot applicants also include a spanking new mayoral candidate, retired electrical engineer Ronald Culver, who (like rival Randall Stephens) hails from the Williamson County portion of Austin. Culver told Newsdesk he has no particular governmental experience, but is a “problem solver” who believes city government is going in the wrong direction, and that he’s “tired of working for the business class.” He’s an African-American who recalls segregation and Jim Crow, and says the city is still failing to take care of East Austin needs while building “boondoggles” like the Lady Bird Lake boardwalk. He opposes any increase in utility rates – specifically any “drought fee” or attempts to compensate for increasing conservation. His campaign will be based on “getting the people to stand up.”

Longtime political activist and occasional candidate Don Zimmerman – a Tea Party Republican and a founder of the Travis County Taxpayers Union – has filed a campaign treasurer designation in District 6. In a press release Zimmerman denounced the Central Health property tax and economic incentives, said he would campaign against urban rail and for “vehicular traffic congestion relief." “Our other two primary interests,” he continued, “will be pushing through a significant homeowner property tax exemption, and a firm resolution opposing the city policy of subsidizing private business – the practice of entrenched politicians and unaccountable bureaucrats picking winners and losers at the taxpayer's expense.”

Two other candidates recently entering the lists (via CTD’s) include restaurant manager Christopher Hutchins (District 1), whose priority issues comprise affordability – including some consideration of rent control, homestead exemptions, increasing minimum and living wages, and improved mass transit. Frank “Franko” Guajardo has also filed, in District 3, but has thus far repeatedly declined to respond to reporters’ questions about his candidacy. (Perhaps he intends to run a stealth campaign.)

Meanwhile, in recent days, a couple of folks have withdrawn. The first was Miguel Ancira (District 3), who filed a final campaign finance report but did not otherwise issue a statement. In District 4, Gabe Rojas, a Zoning and Platting commissioner who was considered a formidable candidate, abruptly withdrew from his campaign and subsequently issued an explanatory statement: "I am suspending my campaign to represent District 4 and Austin on City Council this year. This was a hard decision to make but this just isn’t the right time for me and my family to take on such an endeavor. I will continue to push for a sustainable, walkable, affordable, equitable, and vibrant Austin every day as I plan to remain very active in the community. I thank you very much for your support and look forward to having some great conversations and doing good work with all of you in the coming years.”

At least Rojas didn't say he was withdrawing because of the Chronicle's malfeasance with his headshot, which we managed to screw up more than once. Apologies! We believe the one posted here is finally correct.

For ongoing coverage of the campaigns going forward, follow Newsdesk and monitor the Chronicle’s Elections page.

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