The Austin Chronicle

May 12 Special Election

The Chronicle endorsements

May 4, 2007, News

The 'Chronicle' Endorsements

It's been low-key, but there is actually an election coming up on May 12, with early voting starting April 30. The constitutional amendment election will be on every Travis Co. ballot; some combination of the following also may be on your ballot, depending on where you vote. For a full sample ballot, go to

Texas Constitutional Amendment (reducing property taxes for elderly and disabled)

Austin: ISD Board, District 2

Briarcliff: Mayor, Board of Aldermen

Cedar Park: City Council

Del Valle: ISD Board, ISD Bond Proposition

Lago Vista: Mayor, City Council, ISD Board

Lake Travis: ISD Board

Lakeway: Mayor, City Council, Sales Tax Proposition

Leander: City Council, ISD Board

Manor: Mayor, City Council, ISD Board, ISD Bond Propositions

Pflugerville: Mayor, City Council

Rollingwood: City Board of Aldermen

Round Rock: City Council

Sunset Valley: City Council

Village of the Hills: Mayor, Board of Aldermen

Volente: Village Council

West Lake Hills: City Council

Bastrop/Travis Co. Emergency Service District 1: Commissioner

Travis Co. Bee Caves Road District: Bond Proposition

Proposition 1: Yes

The constitutional amendment authorizing the Legislature to provide for a reduction of the limitation on the total amount of ad valorem taxes that may be imposed for public-school purposes on the residence homesteads of the elderly or disabled to reflect any reduction in the rate of those taxes for the 2006 and 2007 tax years.

We routinely advise rejecting state constitutional amendments (with predictably little success), as we believe the Texas Constitution has become a gargoyle of legislative dodges and regulatory adjustments. Far too often legislators would rather pass the buck to the voters (in loaded and obscure language) than make a decision (presumably their constitutional duty). In this instance, the likelihood of Texas voters rejecting a proposition so sympathetic on its face – who's going to oppose an equity tax cut for the elderly and disabled? – is virtually nil, and we won't argue with them ... much.

However, this proposition might also be called "the $10 Million Screwup," as that's the estimated cost to counties saddled with make-up legislation from the last Lege session, a proposition that should have landed on the November ballot rather than May. (Travis Co. estimate: $600,000.) Add in the estimated $774 million (over five years) in lost local tax revenue for schools (supposedly to be made up by the state), and you're starting to talk real money. But if we're all intended to get a tax break from the Lege's dubious and shortsighted "generosity" to everyone but schoolchildren, who are we to say the old and the halt shouldn't get a taste? Although their taxes are already capped, and the more property you own, the bigger your cut will be, we advise voters to count your change, consider your aging ancestors, and vote yes.

Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees, District 2: Sam Guzman

This is an unusual election, to complete the remaining year in resigning trustee Rudy Montoya Jr.'s four-year term, for the heavily Hispanic District 2. The early favorites were accountant and district volunteer Gerald Guerra, who was nearly appointed by the board for the expiring term (a step short-circuited by public opposition), and businessman Sam Guzman, recruited to run by local Hispanic leaders (e.g., Gonzalo Barrientos and Gus Garcia) who now appear prominently among his list of endorsers. Also running are Fred L. McGhee, an applied archeologist and community housing consultant with a broad range of experience (including substitute teaching in AISD), and Gary Johnson, secretary of the Travis Co. Libertarian Party.

We believe Guerra is earnestly committed to improving the schools. But by his own acknowledgment, his family responsibilities have often had to take priority over his district involvement, and the trusteeship would mean an enormous additional commitment. So we're glad the board decided to hold the election, because Guzman and McGhee have emerged as two intriguing candidates who have much to offer the district. Guzman has extensive experience, both in local business groups and as a community volunteer and administrator of various nonprofits, and has demonstrated his knowledge of District 2 and current challenges facing AISD. The younger McGhee has had an interesting career as a consultant on community projects in Austin, Houston, and Hawaii, and a fresh perspective on the district as someone who has worked as a substitute teacher in addition to a whole range of other work. (Indeed, it's not immediately clear how he hopes to add the heavy burden of AISD trusteeship to his myriad pursuits, here and elsewhere.) Both appear fully qualified, and while Guzman has the longer local experience and demonstrated public involvement, McGhee offers both a unique perspective and fresh energy to a board that sometimes seems overwhelmed by its responsibilities.

It will be a tough choice for the few voters likely to turn out for an off-year election, but we urge Austinites to take the time to familiarize themselves with the candidates and get out and vote. On balance, we believe Guzman has earned the voters' support, through his solid credentials and his record of long service to the community (recognized in his extensive list of prominent supporters). But we also urge McGhee to stay involved in the school district and its policy choices and perhaps run again.

Travis Co. Early Voting (April 30-May 8)

Travis Co. voters may vote at any early-voting location. On election day, voters must vote in their precinct. For a list of precinct locations, call 238-VOTE or go to

Polls are open Monday-Saturday, 7am-7pm, and Sunday, noon-6pm, for all locations, except malls, Howson Public Library, and mobile voting sites.


Travis County Offices, 5501 Airport

Fiesta Mart, 3909 N. I-35

Flawn Academic Center (UGL) Lobby, West Mall, UT campus

Travis County Courthouse, 1000 Guadalupe

Howson Public Library, 2500 Exposition (Mon.-Fri., 10am-8pm; Sat., 10am-5pm)


HEB, 2701 E. Seventh*

Northeast Health Center, 7112 Ed Bluestein (Springdale Shopping Center)


Northcross Mall, 2525 W. Anderson (Mon.-Sat., 9am-8pm; Sun., noon-6pm)

Highland Mall, 6001 Airport (lower level near Fun Zone; Mon.-Sat., 9am-8pm; Sun., noon-6pm)


HEB, 9414 N. Lamar*

County Tax Office, 15822 Foothill Farms Loop (just off Pecan Street), Pflugerville


Randalls, 10900-D Research

HEB, 7301 FM 620 N.*


Randalls, 2025 W. Ben White

HEB, 2400 S. Congress*


Albertsons, 1819 S. Pleasant Valley*

HEB, 6607 S. I-35*


Randalls, 6600 S. MoPac

Randalls, 9911 Brodie


Randalls, 2303 RR 620 S.

Randalls, 3300 Bee Caves Rd.

* Temporary building in parking lot


Thursday, May 3

Rollingwood City Hall, 403 Nixon Dr., 8am-4pm

Bee Cave City Hall, 13333-A Hwy. 71 W., 8am-noon, 1-5pm

Manor Elementary, 12904 Gregg Manor Rd., 11am-7pm

Loyalton of Austin, 5310 Duval Rd., 9am-noon

Popham Elementary, 7014 Elroy Rd., 11am-7pm

Westminster Manor, 4100 Jackson Ave., 2-5pm

Friday, May 4

Rollingwood City Hall, 403 Nixon Dr., 8am-4pm

Lago Vista City Hall, 5803 Thunderbird St., 8am-4pm

Bee Cave City Hall, 13333-A Hwy. 71 W., 8am-noon, 1-5pm

Govalle Care Center, 3101 Govalle Ave., 9am-noon

Brighton Gardens, 4401 Spicewood Springs, 2-5pm

Hornsby-Dunlap Elementary, 13901 FM 969, 11am-7pm

Saturday, May 5

Lago Vista City Hall, 5803 Thunderbird St., 8am-4pm

Del Valle ISD Admin. Bldg., 5301 Ross, 8am-4pm

Crystal Falls Golf Course, 3400 Crystal Falls, 9am-5pm

Volente Fire Department & City Hall, 15406 FM 2769, 9am-5pm

Briarcliff Property Owners Community Building, 22801 Briarcliff, 8am-4pm

Sunday, May 6

Crystal Falls Golf Course, 3400 Crystal Falls, noon-6pm

Briarcliff Property Owners Community Building, 22801 Briarcliff Dr., noon-6pm

Northwest Rural Community Center, 18649 FM 1431 Ste. 6-A, Jonestown, noon-6pm

Englewood Estates, 2603 Jones Rd., 4-6pm

Lakeside Senior Center, 85 Trinity, noon-2pm

Parsons House, 1130 Camino La Costa, noon-4pm

Monday, May 7

Briarcliff Property Owners Community Building, 22801 Briarcliff Dr., 8am-4pm

Blake Manor Elementary, 18010 Blake Manor Rd., 11am-7pm

LBJ Building, 111 E. 17th, 8am-6pm

Heritage Park Center, 2806 Real, 9am-noon

Hillcrest Elementary, 6910 E. William Cannon, 11am-7pm

Heartland Health Care Center, 11406 Rustic Rock Dr., 2-5pm

Tuesday, May 8

Travis Building, 1701 Congress, 8am-6pm

RBJ Residential Tower, 21 Waller, 8-11am

Summit at Lakeway, 1915 Lohmans Crossing, noon-5pm

Decker Elementary, 8500 Decker, 11am-7pm

Smith Elementary, 4209 Smith School Rd., 11am-7pm

Grace House, 11825 Bee Caves Rd., 2-5pm

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