Remember, you are not voting on a specific Capital Metro light rail plan. You're voting to give Cap Met permission to build some kind of rail system. You the people get to decide the details later. If you vote no on Prop. 1, you will not only never have anything but buses, but you may not even have the buses you have now. We've been putting away sales-tax money for this purpose for years; it's time to start investing it.
City of Austin Prop. 1: Yes
Travis County Prop. 1: Yes
Williamson County Prop. 1: Yes
We endorse the transportation bond packages -- $130 million for Austin, $28 million for Travis County, and a whopping $350 mil for Williamson County. Even if you don't like roads, no one wins when approved road construction is put on hold. The Austin package also includes money for bicycle and pedestrian improvements. Travis bonds and $150 million of the Williamson bonds are attached to specific toll roads. The balance of the Williamson bonds will fund the first phase of a Multi-Corridor Plan that will use infrastructure investments to manage the county's wild growth.
City of Austin, Prop. 2: Yes
The Austin Museum of Art's donation of $13.4 million in bond proceeds will create an incentive fund to promote private investments in greenspace.
City of Austin, Prop. 3: No
Leasing public parkland to a golf resort developer forfeits the city's public planning process to private interests. The area around Lake Long will be covered by homes and offices without the city's help. Let's hold on to our public land.
President: Al Gore and Ralph Nader
Editors' Note: Readers of the Chronicle are familiar with Gov. George W. Bush's record on the environment, tort reform, abortion rights, children's health insurance, patients' rights, and consumer protections and executions. The Chronicle editorial board and politics staff agreed that a vote for George W. Bush is an irresponsible vote. At our endorsement meeting, we disagreed on Al Gore vs. Ralph Nader, with the politics staff divided on whom to endorse. The correct split endorsement follows.
We believe Al Gore can govern effectively and that his values are closer to those held by the mainstream in America. Gore believes in protecting the environment. He will be a moderate when it comes to judicial appointments. The Roe v. Wade decision will not be in danger of being overturned if Gore appoints one or more justices to the Supreme Court.
Gore has had his moments of failure -- in particular in the fundraising scandal that tainted the Clinton administration. But he promises to support and sign the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill, which would put an end to the corrupt system by which both parties raise funds. Bush has not.
Gore has held elected office for 24 years and served on U.S. House and Senate committees that require an understanding of how government works. In an election that will shape the U.S. Supreme Court and the federal bench, determine the fate of Social Security, Medicare, a woman's right to control her body, and the role the Christian right will have in reforming our public schools, we endorse V.P. Al Gore.
Green Party candidate Ralph Nader is pro-consumer, pro-worker, and pro-campaign finance. He would strengthen the Federal Trade Commission, reduce the size of the military, and devise an energy policy based on conservation and efficiency. He would encourage small-scale farming, work on environmental cleanup, reduce the power of corporations, reform campaign finance laws, and compel TV and radio networks to provide free airtime to candidates. He is the only candidate in the presidential race discussing the astounding facts that more than 51% the nation's discretionary appropriations are consumed by the military and that 20% of the nation's children still live in poverty. Because Gore can't carry Texas, a vote for Nader could help create a true third party in the United States. If the Green Party gets 5% of the popular vote nationwide, it will be eligible for matching funds from the federal government in the next election. We endorse Ralph Nader.
U.S. Senate: Douglas Sandage
Although it is tempting to endorse Kay Bailey Hutchison for her stance on abortion and for her work in the colonias, we wonder why she hasn't voted her pro-choice convictions. And she has been the Big Oil go-to senator. Democrat Gene Kelly is again running on a famous name and a thin résumé. Houston attorney Douglas Sandage, the Green Party candidate and former director of the Harris County Dispute Resolution Center, is a better alternative.
U.S. Rep. District 10: Lloyd Doggett
Doggett is one of the hardest-working congressmen in Texas. That, along with his exceptional record on the environment, civil rights, and health care, is reason enough to send the two-term congressman back to Washington for another two years.
U.S. Rep. Dist. 14: Loy Sneary
Loy Sneary is a moderate Democrat with real backing from the business community. He's also a rice farmer backed by the Farm Bureau and organized labor. Anyone who puts together that sort of coalition is capable of representing all the constituents in a congressional district. We enthusiastically endorse him against erratic incumbent Ron Paul.
Railroad Commissioner: Charles Matthews
The Railroad Commission has become a way station for politicians eager to shake down the rich trucking and oil industries and promptly run for something else. Matthews, the GOP incumbent, has proven that he is smart, dedicated, and wants to do right in an agency that has long been a wholly owned subsidiary of the industries it regulates.
Railroad Commissioner: Charles Mauch
Incumbent Michael Matthews was appointed to a vacant seat by Gov. Bush and has spent as much time serving as the Republican Party's designated high-profile African-American as he has tending to the affairs of the commission. Houstonian Charles Mauch of the Green Party would bring a public interest agenda to a commission dominated by the business interests it regulates. We urge a vote for Mauch.
Supreme Court Justice Place 1: Ben G. Levy
Republican Justice Nathan Hecht is a pro-corporate, anti-plaintiff judge sharing the high court bench with eight justices exactly like him. Green Party candidate Ben Levy, who served for six years as a judge on First Court of Appeals, would bring balance and perspective to the court.
Supreme Court Justice, Place 2: No Endorsement
Supreme Court Justice, Place 3: No Endorsement
The all-Republican Supreme Court is one of the most aggressive, activist, anti-plaintiff courts in the nation. Its hostility toward workers, consumers, and plaintiffs in general makes it impossible to endorse another Republican. Yet there are no Democratic or Green challengers for these seats, only Libertarians, whose philosophy seems particularly ill-suited for this position.
Court of Criminal Appeals, Presiding Judge: Bill Vance
Incumbent Sharon Keller is the author of a 1998 majority opinion, which ruled that Roy Wayne Criner should be kept in jail -- although a DNA test cleared him of the rape for which he was imprisoned. We enthusiastically endorse Democrat Bill Vance, an appeals-court judge who has promised to support a moratorium on death penalty cases in which DNA testing could prove a defendant's innocence.
Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 2: William R. Barr
We endorse Democrat Barr over Republican Barbara Parker Hervey, again citing the Republican court's abandonment of its constitutional responsibility to serve as a fair, impartial, and final arbiter of criminal appeals.
Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 3: No Endorsement
GOP candidate Charles Holcomb faces Libertarian Rife Scott Kilmer.
State Board of Education, District 10: Donna Howard
Donna Howard will bring common sense and integrity to a board dominated by Republicans from the Christian right. Howard is smart, reasonable, and articulate. (see All the Right Moves)
State Senate, District 14: Gonzalo Barrientos
He's one of the most senior members of the Texas Senate. Yet for all of his grit, hard work, and long record of public service, the senator from Travis County can't get much done for his constituents in Austin. We endorse him and hope for a better legislative session in his next term.
State Senate, District 25: Jeff Wentworth
Wentworth represents constituents in the 25th Senate District well and is the rare pro-choice Republican in the Senate. We endorse him over Libertarian opponent George Meeks.
State Rep., District 46: "Buddy" Freidman
Ivan "Buddy" Friedman is a smart, young Democrat who has worked in the Lege, knows the process, and would vote better than the incumbent. He challenges Rick Green, best known for carrying a gun-lobby bill that makes it all but impossible for cities and counties to sue gun manufacturers for costs hospitals incur treating gun wounds. Hays County deserves better, and we enthusiastically endorse Freidman.
State Rep., District 47: No Endorsement
Republican Terry Keel vs. Libertarian Michael Badnarik. Keel offers up some good public policy proposals, then votes the Republican line on tax cuts, making it impossible to fund the programs. We make no endorsement.
State Rep., District 48: Ann Kitchen
Kitchen's long record of community involvement and political activism makes her a deserving heir apparent to the House seat being vacated by Sherri Greenberg. GOP opponent Jill Warren espouses a vision that includes squashing abortion rights and promoting suburban sprawl. This choice is black-and-white.
State Rep., District 49: Elliott Naishtat
One of the few worthy accomplishments of the 1999 Legislature was the Children's Health Insurance Program, and Naishtat, who chaired the House Human Services Committee, deserves a large share of the credit. Naishtat is the rare politician who truly shoulders the burden of the compassionate agenda.
State Rep., District 50: Dawnna Dukes
As East Austin's representative for the past six years, Dukes has distinguished herself by taking tough stands on environmental justice, the Children's Health Insurance, and educational equity.
State Rep., District 51: Glen Maxey
That he is running unopposed only shows what a credit Maxey has been to his constituents.
3rd Court of Appeals, Place 1: Woodie Jones
Serving as the senior justice on one of the best benches in the state, Jones has done a good job deciding weighty issues that affect our quality of life. He deserves to stay put.
53rd District Court: Scott Jenkins
Jenkins has handled everything from civil rights cases to employment law to personal injury cases. His recent work a mediator will serve him well on the bench.
126th District Court: Darlene Byrne
With 12 years of civil trial experience and a history of volunteer work that bears out her commitment to our community, Byrne is an excellent choice for district judge.
353rd District Judge: No Endorsement
Margaret Cooper backed away from a critical environmental decision on the regulation of giant agribusiness hog farms. We make no endorsement.
390th District Court: Karrie Key
Municipal Court Judge Key has served as both judge and prosecutor and recently worked for a highly regarded Austin law firm. She is a solid choice for district.
Travis Co. District Attorney: Ronnie Earle
We commend Ronnie Earle for the forward-thinking, community-oriented programs he has brought to the D.A.'s office for over 24 years. He remains the best choice for D.A.
County Court-At-Law #5: Gisela Triana
Appointed to a vacancy on this bench, this former J.P. and part-time municipal court judge has invaluable courtroom experience. She has our vote to continue in office.
Sheriff: Margo Frasier
Frasier is respected and admired by her deputies, by city and county leaders, and residents of the county.
Tax Assessor-Collector: Nelda Wells Spears
The Chronicle endorses incumbent Spears.
Constable, Precinct 2: Bob Vann
The Republican incumbent has performed well as constable and gets our endorsement.
Constable, Precinct 3: Kevin Miskell
Miskell has been a good constable in the southwest corner of the county.
Constable, Precinct 5: Bruce Elfant
Bruce Elfant practices principled, common sense, local (and not just Democratic) politics -- and has even taken on the gun lobby.
Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5: Herb Evans
We endorse incumbent Herb Evans.
Participating in the editorial board vote on endorsements were: Louis Black, Nick Barbaro, Erica C. Barnett, Robert Bryce, Mike Clark-Madison, Louis Dubose, Kevin Fullerton, and Amy Smith.