Endorsements: Saturday June 3 Runoff Election

The three-day Memorial Day weekend will temporarily halt early-voting activities in the runoff elections for Austin City Council and the Austin Community College Board of Trustees. But you can still cast your ballot early through Friday and again on Tuesday, the last day. For more information on early voting locations and times, call the city election office at 499-2220, or see the city's Web site: www.ci.austin.tx.us.

Austin City Council, Place 2: Raul Alvarez The argument could be made that any political contest should focus on the qualities and positions of the candidates alone, but that would be naive. We don't elect candidates for their personal qualities, but for their ability to be effective given the realities of the political system. A most crucial concern in regard to the candidates running for this seat is the makeup of the current council. Crucial to the dynamic is Bill Spelman's almost scholarly perspective on the workings and planning options of the city. Rafael Quintanilla is a force in the community, involved with any number of projects and boards. While high-profile, he is still somewhat tarred by his anti-SOS activities, and, more importantly, by his pro-business sensibility. Given this council, Quintanilla would be an ideal player, one ready not only to deal but to bring deals to the table. Call us reactionary, but isn't that exactly what we don't want? Losing Spelman's knowledgeable questioning for a staunch Watson team player seems like an especially dangerous trade. Raul Alvarez, a longtime community organizer with such groups as the Sierra Club (where he is environmental justice director), the East Cesar Chavez neighborhood planning team, and PODER, is a cleaner -- not to mention greener -- candidate. Alvarez, with solid urban-planning credentials and a desire for a more open government process, took his Stanford education to heart and has thrown himself into community activity. At 33, he has the kind of fire in the belly and on-the-ground experience you expect of an activist, not an administrator; he could even be (dare we say it?) his generation's answer to Gus Garcia. Now that three other candidates, including former Parks and Rec employee Gloria Mata Pennington, have been eliminated from this race, the choice is more clear than ever; our endorsement in the runoff goes to Alvarez.

Austin Community College Board of Trustees, Place 7: Barbara Mink Now the race for this open seat boils down to two candidates: Barbara Mink and Dan McClendon. Both are educators, but Mink, a former ACC administrator, possesses prized higher-ed experience that would enable her to hit the ground running as a trustee. We believe Mink is not only capable but fully committed to meeting her goals, which include broadening participation in ACC's planning process, providing competitive salaries to ACC employees, bringing more diversity to the faculty, and using citizen advisory committees for program planning and evaluation. As an aside, we also like the fact that Mink has earned her stripes on the neighborhoods front. She is secretary of the North Acres Homeowners Association, and a former vice president of the Cherrywood Neighborhood Assn. All things considered, Mink is our choice.

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