Naked City

Beside the Point: City Council Notes

Filing closed Monday for the May City Council elections, and when the dust cleared there were 14 candidates still standing. Most of those on the list had been on it for several weeks, but there was a bit of last-minute juggling. On the final day, ubiquitous Libertarian Wes Benedict jumped from the Place 3 race (retiring Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman's seat) to oppose Place 4 incumbent Betty Dunkerley, a race now crowded by perennial candidate Jennifer Gale as well as two new additions: Austin Public Library employee Phillip Byron Miller and John Wickham, owner of the Elysium night club, who told In Fact Daily he was running specifically in response to Dunkerley's vote against including the phrase "live music venues" in the ballot language for the anti-smoking ordinance (confirmed by council last week).

Missing from the ballot will be Steven Adams, who has been publicly running for Place 1 for several weeks, but who somehow managed to miss the 5pm filing deadline on Monday. Although he'd been appearing at candidate forums and campaigning on ACTV for some time, Adams missed the deadline by one minute – leaving the Place 1 field to heavily endorsed Lee Leffingwell and everybody else.

The late additions suggest that the presence of the smoking ordinance on the ballot may be a wild card, and the chances for runoffs, already likely in Place 3, have increased across the board.

Another open question is why anyone at all might want to run under current circumstances, only to welcome generous public abuse over the toll road debate as well as the smoking ordinance – all for the privilege of death-by-a-thousand-zoning-cases. The toll road independent study returns today (Thursday), as the council determines whether the city will underwrite the entire cost of the work or accept (unlikely) help from other involved agencies (see "Point Austin").

As to the smoking ordinance, despite the final 7-0 vote on the language (wrangled out intermittently over several hours), there were divisions on the council between those (Daryl Slusher, Raul Alvarez) who wanted to hew close to the Onward Austin anti-smoking petitions, and those (Jackie Goodman) who wanted to make explicit the likely subjects of any strengthened ordinance – the 250 or so bars (including "live music venues") that are to a degree exempted from the existing restrictions. But the current council won't have to take as much heat on the ordinance as the new candidates. On the campaign trail thus far, they all have pretty much been able to respond to toll road questions with a reflexive city stand of "I'm agin it." That won't work for the smoking ordinance, which will have strong and vocal public factions on both sides.

City Council Candidates

May 7 Election

Place 1

Andrew Bucknall

Lee Leffingwell

James Paine

Casey Walker

Scott Williams

Place 3

Margot Clarke

Mandy Dealey

Jennifer Kim

Gregg Knaupe

Place 4

Wes Benedict

Betty Dunkerley (incumbent)

Jennifer Gale

Phillip Byron Miller

John Wickham

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