ACC: Low Turnout, High Stakes
ACC Board Place 2: Gigi Edwards Bryant and Jade Chang Sheppard
If voter participation is a concern in all the Dec. 16 run-offs, it's a five-alarm panic in the Austin Community College second round. With an electorate spread across six counties – five of which have basically nothing else on the ballot – the Austin vote will be the dominating factor in an unpredictable race.
That could be good news for Place 2 run-off candidate and construction entrepreneur Jade Chang Sheppard. In the Nov. 4 election, she came within five points (28%) of frontrunner and ACC Foundation board member Gigi Edwards Bryant (33%). That was a six-horse race, meaning that this run-off is a completely new roll of the dice.
The question now is whether the results in this year's other contested race will shift the dynamic in this one. In Place 1, former AISD board President Mark Williams defeated ACC board incumbent Tim Mahoney. It was a complicated race: Williams is often seen as the institutionalist, pro-business candidate, while Mahoney was often the strongest voice for staff and students in ACC debates. Here in Place 2, Chang Sheppard took the ACC-AFT union endorsement; her commitment to Davis-Bacon prevailing wage regulations in her own construction business, plus her experience scrutinizing budgets, were major factors in establishing her as the labor favorite. Meanwhile, Edwards Bryant, who has indeed done yeoman's work for ACC through its foundation, is seen by some as being a little too close to an administration with a weak record on employee relations, including on key issues such as health care.