Council Ballot Set

All four incumbents have opposition, but Bill Spelman faces more than others

Council Member Bill Spelman faces six challengers on the May ballot.
Council Member Bill Spelman faces six challengers on the May ballot. (Photo by John Anderson)

The ballot is officially finalized for the May 12 municipal election – that's the one that's actually happening when originally scheduled – and the early news is Place 5 is very popular.

The field for the mayoral and City Council election – including the mayor and Places 2, 5, and 6 in the city's three-year staggered terms – is slightly smaller than originally anticipated and only hefty in Place 5, where incumbent Council Member Bill Spelman will face six (count 'em, six) challengers. The ballot application filing deadline was 5pm Monday, and Tuesday morning the City Clerk's Office set the ballot with a random drawing for the order of names.

As expected, Mayor Lee Leffingwell is being challenged by environmental consultant and former Council Member Brigid Shea and by persistent council critic Clay Dafoe, whose paperwork reveals he makes his living as a tax preparer (isn't that consorting with the enemy?). And in Place 2, also as anticipated, incumbent Mike Martinez faces rainwater entrepreneur, chemist, and anti-fluoride activist Laura Pressley.

Place 6 incumbent Sheryl Cole faces a late-filing challenger in Shaun Ire­land, who may well lock up the shamrock vote. Ireland appointed a campaign treasurer in mid-February, but only selected a place to run in on March 1. (Note: Places on the council dais are currently not geographic, only numerical, and all members are elected at-large.) He lists his occupation as entrepreneur.

It's Place 5 where the real action – or most excruciating candidate forums – will occur this time around, with incumbent Spel­man having collected six opponents (in ballot order and with listed occupations): John F. Duffy (activist); John A. Rubine (hospitality professional); R.A. "Bo" Pru­dente (safety professional with Capital Metro); Audrey "Tina" Cannon (entrepreneur); Dominic "Dom" Chavez (government affairs); and David Y. Conley (art director). Spelman said the daunting number of challengers reflects to some degree "the luck of the draw" and to some degree candidate awareness of the "gentlemen's agreement" (unofficially reserving Places 2 and 6 for Hispanic and African-American candidates, respectively). He said with a chuckle, "I grew up in a small family ... so I'll have to learn how to make room for so many people at the table."

Of that group, apparently only Chavez has run for office before. He was among a group of people who last year sued the city over the historic zoning tax exemption program, and his campaign treasurer is Ed Wendler Jr. – who just happens to be Martinez's brother-in-law. Cannon, who has founded several start-ups, is "entrepreneur in residence" at Texas State University. Duffy is an Occupy activist. We'll learn more about the others as time goes by. Early voting begins April 30; the last day to register to vote in this election is April 12.

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