Place 4

(l-r) Wes Benedict, John Wickham, Betty Dunkerley, Phillip Byron Miller, Jennifer Gale
(l-r) Wes Benedict, John Wickham, Betty Dunkerley, Phillip Byron Miller, Jennifer Gale

John Wickham

Background: Owner of the Elysium bar; filed for the Council race to oppose the citizen-initiative proposed smoking ordinance. He was among the group of club owners who helped draft the existing “compromise” ordinance for the current council, following the reversal of the previous council’s enactment of a stronger ban.

Campaign Funds: $0 collected and spent

Endorsements: None

On the Issues: Opposes the proposed smoking ordinance as an unnecessary imposition on small businesses, and a personal and property rights issue.

Wes Benedict

Background: Engineer and small business owner, with a 1991 UT B.S. in mechanical engineering and a 1998 U. Michigan M.B.A./M.A. in engineering. He was the executive director of the Texas Libertarian Party, and has previously run for council as a Libertarian.

Campaign Funds: $0 in contributions, $4,853.53 in personal expenditures

Endorsements: PETPAC (Austin Toll Party)

On the Issues: Opposes all city tax incentives or subsidies for corporations, and points particularly to the Home Depot incentives for its new facility as bad public policy. Opposes the toll road plan, saying the city should devote its money and energies to “city arterials,” and advocates “sound environmental decisions” and “affordable, mixed-use housing.” Opposes the smoking ban as a violation of personal and property rights.

Phillip Byron Miller

Background: Austin public library employee (Cepeda Branch) and Austin native whose family has deep roots on the Eastside; his great grandfather was L.C. Anderson, the first principal of what became old Anderson high school.

Campaign Funds: Has not filed a campaign finance report

Endorsements: None

On the Issues: When he first announced, Miller said he wanted to focus on completion of city roadwork, especially highway overpasses. City incentives, if any, should be directed at economic development in East and Southeast Austin. Supports mass transit. Has attended few campaign forums; reportedly opposes the smoking ban.

Betty Dunkerley (incumbent)

Background: Originally from Ennis; elected to council in 2002, after serving for 10 years as chief financial officer and then assistant city manager. Previously the chief financial officer for the city of Beaumont, and prior to that a certified public accountant and Galveston schoolteacher.

Campaign Funds: $66,020 in contributions, $30,000 self-loan; $15,000 cash on hand

Endorsements: Endorsed by essentially every public organization giving endorsements, including the Chronicle and the Statesman, with the exception of the anti-toll group Austin Toll Party.

On the Issues: Stresses her experience as a budget officer, and says as the economy continues to improve, the city should restore funds to libraries and social services, on a case-by-case basis to avoid overspending or overpromising. Opposes tolling of existing highways, and wants an independent review of the CAMPO plan to confirm necessary priorities; wants an integrated transit system with a broad range of options across the region. Says while she will personally vote for the smoking ban, is taking no policy position and will leave it to the voters.

Jennifer Gale

Background: Gale says she is a former U.S. marine, lists no permanent address on her campaign filings, and has run for council and other offices (mayor, school board, congress) a dozen times or more. Apparently works occasionally as a temporary. She attends many public meetings, most consistently Thursday council meetings where she speaks on a variety of topics during citizens communications.

Campaign Funds: $152.65 in contributions; $22.45 cash on hand

Endorsements: None

On the Issues: Has proposed more frequent vacations for police officers, “bike avenues” across the city, and an “independent” newspaper to be founded and owned by the city. She opposes the toll roads, and the smoking ban; says smoking (of marijuana as well as tobacco) should be legalized and allowed in all public buildings with good ventilation.

Campaign funding info is accurate as of the most recent filing date, April 7. Note that some organizations endorsed more than one candidate in a particular race.

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