Place 1: Surprising Riley Avalanche

Cavazos vows to stay involved in community

Chris Riley enjoys an easy win.
Chris Riley enjoys an easy win. (Photo by John Anderson)

Political junkies hoping for some drama in the Place 1 race were sorely disappointed Saturday night – when early-voting totals showed Chris Riley with a 2-1 lead over Perla Cavazos, the race was clearly over.

And a bit surprising. Cavazos by any reckoning ran a real campaign, so the huge margin was a bit of a stunner. Consider this a display of the value of building a constituency well before – really, years before – the race ever begins. Although both candidates had experience as Planning commissioners, it's been no secret that Riley has long been a council member in training and his grasp of city affairs is beyond thorough.

Perla Cavazos says she'll be back.
Perla Cavazos says she'll be back. (Photo by John Anderson)

"She's a very serious candidate," Riley said at his Scholz Garten election-watch party before the results were final. Still, he could see the roots of his victory: "I think it's a long history of involvement with a number of different groups and causes going across the board, and each of those causes entails a network of people that are active on issues, and having just grown up here and worked on issues for a long time, there are networks out there that were spreading the word that I was somebody that could be counted on."

And for his first few days in office? "The economy has to be a principle focus right now: figuring out ways to support small businesses, bring the budget under control, make some progress with Capital Metro, and get some movement going on transit. Those are the main things we have to deal with right away."

As is too often the case in Austin's elections, there was only one seat available for two good candidates. "I'm really proud of the campaign that we ran," said Cavazos at the Alligator Grill in South Austin. "We did the best that we could with the resources that we had. I'm proud that we kept it positive, and I'm proud that Chris and his campaign kept it positive too, and I think the voters appreciate that."

What little strength Cavazos had came from the heavily Latino Southeast, where she won several boxes. Cavazos wasn't certain what went wrong, but she wasn't prepared to cast any stones toward a city that had a chance to elect its first-ever Latina to City Council but chose not to. "I happen to be Hispanic and a woman and am very proud to be active in the Latino community, but I was running based on my qualifications and my experiences, and that's why I'd want to be elected, not because I'm Hispanic. But I think it would be great, and I'm hopeful that one of these days we'll elect another Hispanic to council."

Don't expect Cavazos to vanish from the Austin political scene. "I'll definitely be back. I'm going to stay active in the community, doing what I've been doing, working on issues of affordability, bringing more voices to the table, and having broader representation at City Hall. You can count on me coming back. I'm definitely not going to disappear."

Got something to say on the subject? Send a letter to the editor.

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 election
Travis County Primary Candidates Jockey to Champion Criminal Justice Change
Travis County Primary Candidates Jockey to Champion Criminal Justice Change
A closer look at the heated District Attorney, County Attorney, and County Court at Law races

Michael King, Feb. 7, 2020

Election Ticker: From Warren to WilCo
Election Ticker: From Warren to WilCo
Elizabeth Warren weighs in on the D.A. race

Michael King, Jan. 31, 2020

More by Lee Nichols
From the Music Desk
From the Music Desk
On Willie, Billy, Stevie Ray, Blaze, and more highlights from four decades of covering Austin music

Sept. 3, 2021

Game Changer
Game Changer
A new football culture for Austin bars

Oct. 23, 2015


election, Chris Riley, Perla Cavazos

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

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