Council Candidate Carousel

(in ballot order)


Mayor

Jennifer Gale has become less a perennial than perpetual candidate, filing incessantly for any open office, from Congress downward. She derives a little ink therefrom to amplify her regular appearances during citizens communications, where she sings a little and declares herself in favor of nice things. Gale is reportedly homeless and semi-employed as a temp worker.

Danny Thomas (Mayor Pro Tem): The term-limited Thomas arrived at the Council six years ago from a career as an Austin police officer and Baptist minister and has been mostly a solid centrist. He's also been an advocate on Eastside issues, especially with an in-progress plan (co-sponsored with Raul Alvarez) for economic development and affordable housing. He says he's running to take on a city leadership that will be more inclusive for those groups traditionally left out of official discussions.

Will Wynn (incumbent): Like several other local pols, Wynn was stung last year by virulent and often personalized opposition to toll roads, but overall has been popular and accessible, impressions reinforced by the city's acclaimed performance in welcoming and accommodating hurricane evacuees. He established a reputation as a budget hawk during the economic downturn and has benefited from the local recovery. Wynn arrived at council as a Downtown businessman and developer but has broad financial and popular support across the city, and points to his founding involvement in Envision Central Texas as a defining accomplishment.


Place 2

Wes Benedict: Last spring, Benedict was trounced by Place 4 incumbent Betty Dunkerley; this time he's challenging in an open seat, despite the unofficial "gentlemen's agreement" that informally marks Place 2 for a Hispanic candidate; he says he chose the race on the political calculation that it gives him the best chance to make a run-off. He's a small-business man running on lower taxes, less regulation, and building more roads while fighting tolls – he says the money should come from Capital Metro's sales tax allotment. Although municipal races are nonpartisan, Benedict has returned to his position as executive director of the state Libertarian Party.

Mike Martinez: The recently re-elected president of the Austin Firefighters Association led a successful campaign for collective bargaining rights last year. (He'll step down if elected.) Opponents have questioned whether he's the best candidate to address the growing size of the "public safety" portion of the budget (police, firefighters, EMS), but he says his experience makes him most qualified to deal honestly on both sides of the issue. (Last week, he told the Austin Neighborhoods Council that he supports restricting police and firefighter budgets in order to fund other community needs.) He's emphasized "basic needs" in his campaign and says he will work for downtown residential density and expanded rail and bus service.

Eliza May: President of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce but equally well-known for her brief but fiery tenure as executive director of the Texas State Funeral Commission under Gov. George Bush. Ousted after the TSFC launched an investigation of Houston-based funeral home conglomerate SCI, May sued, charging retaliation. Originally from Laredo, May has long been actively involved in state Democratic Party politics and also has served on many nonprofit boards and public commissions. Her early campaign has emphasized affordable housing, helping small businesses, and a pragmatic mix of transportation solutions.


Place 5

Mark Hopkins: A civil attorney who worked in the attorney general's highway land acquisition section before becoming a solo practitioner a decade ago, Hopkins entered the race, he says, primarily because of toll roads: "We've taken too-quick steps in the wrong direction, and I've stepped into the race to change that course."

Colin Kalmbacher: A UT journalism student who recently ran unsuccessfully for student government rep as a "Fort Worth born, Austin baptized human rights activist [and] co-chair of the Palestine Solidarity Committee at UT as well as publicity coordinator for the UT chapter of Amnesty International." He led anti-war demonstrations as a high school student and angrily denounced the council, the APD, and the Office of Police Monitor over the Daniel Rocha shooting.

Brewster McCracken (incumbent): Civil attorney, mediator, and former prosecutor who first lost to Betty Dunkerley in 2002, then defeated Margot Clarke in a 2003 run-off. He's been identified with city planning issues, both the design ordinance and current McMansion moratorium and task force, and he can also be a lightning rod on polarizing issues such as toll roads and city financial assistance for the burned Midtown Live! night club. He led the rhetorical charge on the dais against Props. 1 and 2 but says he would support more precise ordinances that strengthen the city's hand in defending the aquifer and supporting open government.

Kedron Jerome Touvell: A professional software engineer (at IBM for six years) and current UT student (pursuing six additional undergraduate degrees, ranging from government to linguistics), Touvell calls himself a "classical liberal" (or "reformed libertarian") who would support market solutions for issues like the smoking ban, gay marriage, and affordable housing, and supports Prop. 1 and Prop. 2.


Place 6

Sheryl Cole: This local attorney has been involved in many local public service efforts, most recently as one chair of the citizens task force that designed last year's successful AISD bond package, and also on the city's 1998 bond committee. She's a PTA president, a Sunday school teacher, and a former board member of the Urban League, and her natural issue orientation is schools, neighborhoods, and more generally East Austin, where she says the city needs to focus more precisely on well-rooted and permanent economic development. She would be the first African-American woman to serve on the council.

DeWayne Lofton: A lifelong East Austinite, Lofton has been a member of various public boards, and works in the insurance risk management department of the Texas Association of School Boards. He was a member of the citizens' Bond Election Advisory Committee that prepared the current bond package, supports the priorities approved by the committee, and has spoken against changes (e.g., a tentative city proposal to shift money to infrastructure in the SH 130 corridor). His campaign has emphasized working toward an Austin that is affordable, diverse, and just, adding, "We will need to put more focus and money into the health and human services budget, to deal with our growing health care crisis."

Darrell Pierce: Pierce, from Oak Hill's Western Oaks neighborhood (where he's been on the board of directors), is a management consultant in his own business. A past chair of the African-American Chamber of Commerce, he also served on the downtown commission, the equity commission, and the planning commission, and has been involved in the city's African-American Quality of Life effort over the past year. His campaign thus far has emphasized "efficient government, affordable living options, safe neighborhoods, and a diverse regional economy."

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at austinchronicle.com/opinion.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle