District 10: Taxes and Turnout
Mandy Dealey vs. Sheri Gallo
Both Mandy Dealey and Sheri Gallo have long-established records in what is now City Council District 10. Dealey has compiled an impressive résumé of service on various city boards and commissions, including the Planning Commission and the Waterfront Overlay Task Force. Gallo has her own list of public service – among other things, she's the UT-Austin School of Social Work Advisory Board Chair, and she was the chair of the Housing Authority (HACA) board in the Nineties.
However, the two differ in their political views. Dealey was the clear Democratic favorite in the general election, while Gallo leans Republican (she ran for County Commissioner as a Republican in 2002), and touts her experience as a businesswoman. At the recent League of Women Voters forum, Gallo cited the mantra, popular among fiscal conservatives, that government ought to be run more like a business.
Of course, neither candidate can afford to ignore property taxes in a race to represent the city's wealthiest district. Both support a 20% homestead exemption, although they word their support differently: Gallo says she wants a "permanent homestead exemption"; Dealey says that she "supports Steve Adler's plan" for a phased-in exemption. Dealey also wants to see changes made to the appraisal system in order to apportion property taxes more fairly between residential and commercial owners.
Another prominent concern for Dealey is the upcoming revision of the land development code (CodeNEXT). She says that it's important to try to respect the neighborhood plans when so much hard work has gone into their making. She's also highlighted the need for water conservation, for improved social services, and for mitigating economic inequality.
While Gallo is certainly concerned with the cost of government, it can be hard to determine what her larger vision for the city might be. She's come out against the current Council's proposed ordinance to prevent source-of-income discrimination by landlords, arguing that "the answer of providing more options for those residents is not forcing landlords to participate in a program [Section 8 vouchers] that is meant and intended to be voluntary." But on other issues her answer is often that she would listen to what people say they want or need done. Listening to people's concerns is admirable, but at some point, an elected leader has to distill what she's heard into a plan of her own. Regardless, a promise to limit spending may be enough to persuade D10 to elect Gallo – after all, considered as a group in the first round, the total votes for Republican candidates in the district outweighed those for Dems, 54.5% to 45.5%.