Naked City

Cajun and Council

Anyone who expected to find City Council contenders Kirk Mitchell and Linda Curtis standing outside the Convention Center entrance Saturday, protesting the swearing-in of Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman and Council Members Daryl Slusher and Betty Dunkerley, was sorely disappointed. After a campaign of lawsuits filed by Mitchell (vs. Slusher) and Curtis (vs. Goodman), petition controversies, and old-fashioned mudslinging, the ceremony was bitterness-free -- but with a Cajun buffet, not exactly fat-free.

City Manager Toby Futrell gracefully emceed, and County Court of Law Judge Gisela Triana administered the oath of office. Mayor Gus Garcia and Council Member Raul Alvarez were out of town, but the remaining council members unanimously reappointed Goodman as Mayor Pro Tem. Then came the speeches, beginning with Slusher, who tried to put the animus of May 4 behind him. "Shaping a great city of the future will take a lot of effort," he said, "and I invite all the citizens of Austin to be involved" -- even, he implied, if they supported Mitchell. "Those who share the same goals, but sometimes differ on how to get there, should not tear each other apart over their strategic differences."

Goodman thanked many people by name, including her election opponents. Curtis "brought a sense of humor to the campaign ... and issues to the table that I hadn't thought about, but took for granted." Retired APD officer Billy Sifuentes added "a great deal of stature," and businessman and bicycle advocate Robin Stallings is a "very honorable man and good friend." (Stallings bowed out after the city clerk's office determined that Goodman had earned enough term-limit-busting petitions to defend her seat.) "Practically everyone here is really great," Goodman gushed.

Speaking of gushing, Dunkerley nearly broke into tears at the podium. "I can't help but get choked up," she said. "This is such a miracle." The "rookie" conquered her wet eyes to revisit her campaign platform and remind the crowd one more time that as the city's former finance director, she's battled bad budgets before. "Don't worry -- it will be okay. That's what I always told the staff," she said.

Only time will tell if that mantra will work on her new colleagues -- or on the dedicated following of Beverly Griffith, Dunkerley's defeated predecessor and Neighbor Numero Uno to many. When Dunkerley advocated helping developers "build cheaper, faster, and simpler," Naked City heard someone gasp, "infill?" Yet debate would wait. "Let's all go and enjoy ourselves," Dunkerley suggested, closing the ceremony -- but not before Goodman inserted one last thank you (to her lawyers) and tugged at the audience's heartstrings. "I have rescued kittens that need parents," she announced. Interested parties should e-mail jackie.goodman@ci.austin.tx.us.

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