The Austin Chronicle

The Road to 10-1: CLC Endorsements

By Michael King, August 29, 2014, News

After an all-day screening session featuring 36 of the 78 balloted candidates, the Austin Central Labor Council (with membership of 26 local unions) endorsed City Council Member Mike Martinez for mayor, and picked favorites in nine of the 10 Council district races. In a statement released Saturday announcing the endorsements, AFSCME Political Director Jack Kirfman said the endorsements followed "10 hours of relative camaraderie, serious discussions, agreements, consensus-building, and a small amount of bloodletting." In addition to the endorsement for Martinez – not unexpected, since he rose to Council after serving as president of the Austin Firefighters Associa­tion – the CLC endorsed the following candidates:

District 1: Ora Houston

District 2: Delia Garza

District 3: Sabino "Pio" Renteria

District 4: Greg Casar

District 5: Ann Kitchen

District 6: Jimmy Flannigan

District 7: No endorsement

District 8: Ed Scruggs

District 9: Kathie Tovo

District 10: Mandy Dealey

An endorsement required a two-thirds vote of the delegates present or – if a roll call was necessary – votes by delegates representing two-thirds of the approximately 12,000 local union members. The latter occurred in the mayoral vote; Kirfman reports that Martinez showed strong support, and easily won more than a two-thirds representative vote against his only rivals who attended, Steve Adler and Sheryl Cole. (The full list of invited candidates was compiled prior to the final Aug. 18 City Clerk list of ballot qualifiers, Kirfman said, and not all invited candidates chose to attend.)

There were no real surprises among the other endorsements. In District 3, Kirfman said members seemed to be persuaded both by Renteria's persistent work in the community and by his approach of building consensus among neighborhood residents. In District 7, Leslie Pool and Melissa Zone are both Travis County employees and AFSCME members, and none of the (now eight) candidates garnered the two-thirds necessary for a CLC endorsement.

Kirfman also pointed to District 4's Casar as showing youthful leadership as well as "busting his hump" on worker issues at the city and AISD for several years. "He's a young guy, but he may have quite a future ahead of him," he said. He also described the District 9 endorsement of Tovo over Chris Riley (and Erin McGann) as "the most painful one in the bunch," because Tovo and Riley "have both been great on worker issues, and have been there when we needed them. They just got drawn into the same district, and we had to make a choice."

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