Naked City

Getting Crowded in Place 5

Judging from the crowd of people eyeing the only open seat on the City Council, the winner of the Place 5 race could very well be determined in a run-off. So far, six people -- five of them men, all of them white -- have announced they'd join the contest to succeed mayoral hopeful Will Wynn. Candidates have until March 19 to file.

By many accounts, Austin attorney Brewster McCracken is the obvious frontrunner. He's faring well in fundraising and has already picked up the joint endorsement of two key groups -- the Austin Police Association and the Austin/Travis Co. EMS Employees Association McCracken also has some name ID after his 2002 council run for the seat won by Betty Dunkerley, when he got 26% of the vote. McCracken touts support from a cross section of Austin notables in business and community circles, and he'll likely seek the same politically moderate voters who put Dunkerley in office.

But there are other strong contenders with loyal followings, including Lee Leffingwell, chairman of the city Environmental Board, a retired Navy commander and former commercial pilot, and an ACLU member. Margot Clarke, until recently the state director of the League of Conservation Voters, is also former public affairs manager for Planned Parenthood. Carl Tepper is an outspoken member of the city Urban Transportation Commission and a neighborhood-planning advocate. Longtime progressive activist Robert Singleton, arguably the most quotable of all the candidates, can draw on his grassroots wisdom to liven things up. (Other than McCracken, Singleton is the only one who's done this before, placing third in the 1991 mayor's race.) Rounding out the hopefuls list is Steve Swanson, a construction and design consultant. Clayton Stapleton, a city information-systems staffer, withdrew Tuesday rather than take a leave of absence from his city post.

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