City Council Districts 9 and 10
District 107pm, Wednesday, Oct. 8
LCRA Headquarters, 3700 Lake Austin Blvd.
District 10 boasts several veteran candidates: Of the eight, Tina Cannon, Mandy Dealey, and Jason Meeker have all previously run for City Council. Additionally, Sheri Gallo ran for Travis County Commissioners Court as a Republican in 2002; Robert Thomas was the 2012 GOP nominee for Texas House District 48, defeated by Donna Howard; and Dealey lost in a 2005 Texas House Dem primary to current District 5 candidate Ann Kitchen.
Compared to other districts, the specific problems facing District 10 can seem mild; residents worry about traffic and property taxes, but these are citywide complaints.
Margie Burciaga, Bill Worsham, and Thomas all strongly support a homestead exemption on property taxes. Dealey would like to see it phased in, which she believes would alleviate the tax burden without leaving an immediate hole in the city's budget. Cannon says the homestead exemption is a "Band-Aid," and that the key to fixing property taxes is reforming the appraisal system, something which needs to be done in conjunction with the Travis County Commissioners Court. She argues that the threat of having to pay the legal fees of businesses that successfully challenge their appraisals (as required under state law) intimidates the Travis Central Appraisal District into settling too many cases, especially when a business has retained the services of a high-dollar law firm. Meeker also wants the appraisal system to be reformed, and has advocated for sale-price disclosure, while Gallo responds that "a disclosure ordinance is [not] possible under current Texas law. ... Our options are limited in terms of city ordinances until state law is changed."
Gallo, Thomas, Worsham, and Matt Lamon are all Republicans of varying stripes, while Burciaga refers to herself both as an independent and as "the tax-cut lady." Worsham has been endorsed by the Austin Texas Tea Party, while Gallo – a Realtor – and Thomas represent the party's pro-development faction. Thomas has sunk a considerable amount of his own money into his campaign, and he's also received key endorsements, including from the Austin Firefighters and Police Association PACs.
Among the three Dems, Dealey, with lengthy service on city boards and commissions, would appear to be the front-runner. She's captured nearly all of the Democratic and progressive endorsements (Meeker received the Austin Neighborhoods Council endorsement), and her civic experience is formidable. Because Dealey comes from a wealthy background, Cannon and Meeker have both argued that she lacks real-world experience; but making the argument that firsthand experience equals first-rate expertise can be tricky. Dealey counters that as a member of various nonprofit boards and a graduate of UT's LBJ School of Public Affairs, she knows plenty about management, and refers to community engagement as a "calling."
Meeker, who entered city politics battling the Northcross Walmart and has since served on the Zoning and Platting Commission, is attempting to make a similar cause of "Saving Muny," the city's Westside golf course at the district's southern end, and tentatively marked for development by its UT-Austin owners – and thus somewhat beyond local opposition. He's also made Dealey something of a personal target, apparently on the theory that they'll be wooing the same voters.
Cannon, the daughter of an immigrant who grew up in Section 8 housing, argues that it's important to spread affordable housing options throughout the city, because it made a big difference to her as a child to have examples of what success looked like. She also wants to see Capital Metro run as efficiently as possible, in order to keep rates low.