The Chronicle’s endorsements for the May 24 run-offs
Here are the Chronicle editorial board’s endorsements for the May 24 Democratic Party primary run-offs. We’ve chosen to refrain from endorsing any Republican candidates in that party’s run-off election. See more info at austinchronicle.com/elections.
Travis County Commissioner, Precinct 1: Jeff Travillion
In the initial round, Travillion won 42% of the vote, and his run-off opponent, Arthur Sampson, garnered 18.5%. Those numbers would suggest an easy path for Travillion, but a low turnout run-off is difficult to predict. Considering the five initial candidates, we wrote that Travillion has distinguished himself as the person with the strongest perspective and the widest range of experience to best address the challenges in this quickly changing precinct. He’s had a long career as a state and city administrator, has worked for years on countywide issues (especially education), and has performed important advocacy work in the state NAACP and on behalf of area voters – defending fair representation and the Voting Rights Act against GOP anti-minority and anti-Austin gerrymandering. Sampson, a retired city project manager, and perennial candidate for this office, possesses neither the wide experience nor the professional judgment required of a county commissioner. We urge readers to return to the polls and vote for Travillion.
Travis County Constable, Precinct 1: No Endorsement
We liked the third option – Rick Schumacher – in the primary election. The labor investigator with the Texas Workforce Commission exhibited a fresh energy and earnest engagement with the community that we thought would work well in this East Austin precinct. Alas, Schumacher only took home 25% of the vote, leaving his two challengers – incumbent Danny Thomas and Janie Serna, a parent support specialist at Guerrero Thompson Elementary School, to duke it out in the run-off. The two were close in March’s election, with Serna earning 6,035 votes to Thomas’ 6,012 (a difference of .14%). The Chronicle struggles, as well, to determine any drastic differences or advantages between the two. Whereas Thomas’ eight years in office speak to his experience and understanding of the job of constable, Serna has said she’s eager to make the constable position one that’s more involved with the community. However, both candidates made claims during our endorsement meeting that we later fact-checked and found to be inaccurate, and neither showed any distinctive traits that would suggest one would do the job better than the other. Put simply, they’re both fine. Neither exciting enough to recommend, but fine nonetheless.
Railroad Commissioner: Cody Garrett
In the initial round, former state Rep. Lon Burnam garnered the higher-profile endorsements (including the Chronicle’s), yet didn’t make the run-off. That says as much about down-ballot races as it does about endorsements. The survivors of the first round are former reporter Cody Garrett, who’s also been a staffer at the Legislature and the IRS, is an Austin Democratic and union activist, and currently works for Jim Hightower; opposed by Grady Yarbrough, a retired San Antonio schoolteacher, political hobbyist, and perennial candidate (occasionally in GOP primaries), who reportedly opposes fracking, but hasn’t bothered to update the website for his 2012 state Senate candidacy. Garrett wants to bring a progressive voice and influence to the misnamed RRC, and we encourage Chronicle readers to give him that November chance.