City Hall Hustle: Bored by campaigning? Don't show.

A funny thing happened on the way to the candidates forum

Brewster McCracken
Brewster McCracken (Photo by John Anderson)

What if they held a candidate forum, and nobody came?

While it might sound like an absurdist, intellectual perturbation, this Kafkaesque conundrum conveys the mental state of potential candidates for your Austin City Council and mayor's office. Sure, at most meetings of the Redundant Neigh­bor­hood Association Forum and Imaginary Endorsing Democratic Club You Only Hear From Each Election, the candidates outnumber the audience members. But what happens when the candidates start bailing on the forums?

That was the curious position Lee Leffingwell found himself in Saturday, the lone mayoral candidate at the forum. Brewster McCracken was out of town, attending to a family matter, according to a campaign rep, and was never on the list to attend. Carole Keeton Strayhorn, however, was. And one would have thought happily so, as her pseudo-populist brand of bootstrapping this go-round sounds tailored to the anti-subsidy, boondoggle-sniffing, big-gubmint-distrusting delight of, the new nom de plume of Stop Domain Subsidies. However, Her Grandma-ness didn't show, sending a campaign spokesman in her stead, according to media reports. (Sadly, with South by Southwest in the heezy, the Hustle was unable to attend – he was off with seemingly every local TV news dude in town learning about this newfangled thing called "Twitter." It's on the Internet; check it out.)

Lee Leffingwell
Lee Leffingwell (Photo by John Anderson)

Apparently Strayhorn was celebrating the birth of a grandson and sent the drone instead – which left Leffingwell the auspicious honor of vetting the forum's topics. Anyway, all this got the Hustle's gears turning on an idea he's long been mulling: All that's needed to boost the ratings on Channel 6 is what works elsewhere – a little sex, violence, and scintillation. So why not construct a second dais behind the real one in Council Chambers and staff it with gorgeous actors? Fit them with wireless devices that transmit the actual meeting on a 10-second delay, and have the thespians act out the meeting in real time – albeit with a certain degree of artistic license. It's a natural fit for forums, too, as Strayhorn is so trailblazingly displaying.

Thought this was short? Follow the Hustle at

Upcoming Candidate Forums

AUSTIN TEJANO DEMOCRATS FORUM Thursday, March 19, 6pm. Travis County Commissioners Courtroom, Granger Bldg., 314 W. 11th.

MONTOPOLIS NEIGHBORHOOD FORUM Saturday, March 21, 1pm. Ruiz Public Library, 1600 Grove.

Carole Keeton Strayhorn
Carole Keeton Strayhorn (Photo by John Anderson)

BAT PAC PEOPLE'S FORUM Sunday, March 22, 1-3pm. First Unitarian Universalist Church, 4700 Grover, 452-6168.

CYCLISTS FORUM Sponsored by the Yellow Bike Project, the Austin Cycling Association, and the League of Bicycling Voters. Monday, March 23, 6-9pm. St. David's Episcopal Church, 301 E. Eighth, 389-2250.

NORTHWEST AUSTIN CIVIC ASSOCIATION FORUM Tuesday, March 24, 6:30-8:30pm. Murchison Middle School, 3700 North Hills.

TEXAS GREEN NETWORK FORUM Space is limited; RSVP to Wednesday, March 25, 5-8pm. Austin City Hall, 301 W. Second.

AUSTIN NEIGHBORHOODS COUNCIL FORUM Wednesday, March 25, 6-9pm. Austin Energy Building, 721 Barton Springs Rd.

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

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  

More City Council
Who Will Be the New Council Voice for District 9?
Who Will Be the New Council Voice for District 9?
Eight candidates vie for Austin's most powerful YIMBYs and NIMBYs

Austin Sanders, Oct. 28, 2022

Can Council Get Its Sh*t Done by 10pm?
Can Council Get Its Sh*t Done by 10pm?
Austin City Council addresses a 93-item agenda Sept. 15 and aims to end by 10pm rather than voting to extend the meeting

Austin Sanders, Sept. 16, 2022

More City Hall Hustle
City Hall Hustle: The Hustle Bids Farewell ...
City Hall Hustle: The Hustle Bids Farewell ...
To the beating hearts of a great city

Wells Dunbar, Dec. 30, 2011

City Hall Hustle: The Fires This Time
City Hall Hustle: The Fires This Time
Austin's feverish summer a tinderbox for rumination

Wells Dunbar, Sept. 9, 2011


City Council,, Lee Leffingwell, Cariole Keeton Strayhorn, election, forums

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

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

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