Former Council Member and Mayor Pro Tem Michael "Max" Nofziger was elected to the City Council in 1987, after four unsuccessful attempts; the former hippie flower salesman emerged as a respectable-enough voice on the council, and his example continues to inspire fringe candidates every election year. Nofziger pulled in just under 10% of the vote in his last mayoral bid, in 1997, against Kirk Watson and Ronney Reynolds.
Restaurateur Marc Katz's eponymous deli, at Sixth and Rio Grande, has never klosed since 1983, which has generated a lot of name ID even though Katz has never held or sought office. He has, however, been active on a number of community fronts, raising funds for various charities, notable AIDS groups.
Another restaurateur, Brad Meltzer, owns the Benihana of Tokyo franchises in Austin and San Antonio as well as apartments and investment properties here in Austin. He claims experience as an advisor to both Democratic and Republican officeholders (including, in the latter camp, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst) and promises a "bipartisan" campaign for the nonpartisan office.
Leslie Cochran is making his third bid to become Austin's first homeless cross-dressing media-celebrity mayor. He won 8% of the vote in the Watson re-election landslide of 2000.
Cab driver Dale Reed was another of the also-rans in 2000, earning 4.7% while calling for more, not less, development in western Travis County and for building a water treatment plant to purify Barton Springs.
And Jennifer Gale is running for mayor for the fourth time; she's also run for other council seats twice, for U.S. Congress more than once, and for the Austin school board -- where she pulled nearly 40% of the vote against now-president Doyle Valdez. Her best City Council performance was in 2002, a 5.6% showing against Daryl Slusher.
Right now, nobody is officially a candidate, because filing for places on the May 3 ballot doesn't begin until Feb. 18 and runs through March 19. In addition to the mayor's race, voters will decide the Place 2 and Place 6 races, in which Raul Alvarez and Danny Thomas have yet to draw any announced opponents, and the race for the Place 5 seat being vacated by Wynn, which currently has at least four candidates.
Also on the May 3 ballot: Austin Community College's proposed tax increase and, maybe, the reallocation of Waller Creek bonds to the Long Center. Early voting begins April 16.
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