The Austin Chronicle

Wynn Again

New Momentum

By Michael King, May 19, 2006, News

An impromptu receiving line formed early and long on Mother Egan's patio Saturday night, as dozens of well-wishers waited to shake the hand of the all-but-re-elected incumbent mayor, Will Wynn, as the early returns showed him cruising to an easy victory over challenger and Mayor Pro Tem Danny Thomas, and perennial candidate Jennifer Gale. The early voting showed Wynn at a more than comfortable 76%, and by the time the night was over it had risen to 78%, suggesting that whatever early protest vote there might have been had diminished to virtually zero. If there is substantial opposition in the city to Wynn's sometime image as too much the "Downtown" candidate, it was not reflected in this race. Moreover, since the opponents in the mayoral and the Place 5 (McCracken) race had declared themselves in support of Props. 1 and 2, those council outcomes even more resoundingly rejected the props. campaign than did the direct proposition voting.

Even so, second on the mayor's mind this evening – after a sigh of victorious exhaustion – was limiting the potential negative ripples from the public rejection of the two major propositions. "I'm very gratified, of course, by the response of the voters – you stick your neck out there a second time [as a candidate], and it feels very good to have that approval. And I'm also just very tired after the length of the campaign, four months or so. Now maybe we can return to what we need to be debating as a city, like what should be in the bond package." Wynn said public preoccupation with the two propositions had "sucked all the air" out of the rest of the issues, and even the candidate races. But, he continued, he doesn't want the rejection of the "poorly written" charter amendments to mean a backlash against widespread public support for "open government and environmental protection."

"Let's don't lose momentum on those issues – we've already been drafting ordinances on both subjects," Wynn noted, "although the council pulled back a bit so that it wouldn't be perceived as just an effort to undermine the propositions." He said ordinances addressing "the best parts" of both propositions were already on their way through the commission process, so that they could undergo "deliberative public drafting." "I hope we can codify, as ordinances, the positive aspects of these very broad initiatives, and we can move forward in a very public process to get that done."

Among the friends on hand for Wynn's celebration was outgoing Place 2 Council Member Raul Alvarez, whom Mike Martinez will now be replacing on the dais. Asked if he knows what he might do next, he smiled, "Well, I haven't really given it much thought, because these last couple of months have been so busy with really tough issues. And now, even with the election, there's lots of things to tackle, especially with the bond discussions. In these last few weeks, I hope to do what I can to make that bond package as good as it should be."

Alvarez echoed Wynn's sentiments about the proposition vote. "I was somewhat surprised that it was so decisive," he said, "because there has been so much time and money put into that campaign, both for and against. … But we can implement a lot of the substantive parts of those amendments through ordinances, and this was the best outcome, given what was before the voters."

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