Election Notes

Mobility Bond woes, Margaret Moore hires staff, and other stories from the campaign trail

Anti-Mobility Bond signs on Airport near 51st Street (Photo by Jana Birchum)

What's the Rush? District 1 City Council Member Ora Houston was the sole nay vote on final passage of the Mobility Bond proposition (Delia Garza, Don Zimmer­man, and Ellen Troxclair abstained), and is now the first name listed by the "Honest Transportation Solu­tions" PAC that's opposing the bonds (others: Gonzalo Camacho, Bill Aleshire, Roger Falk, Mike Levy, Jim Skaggs). Houston cited the "rushed process" as her primary reason for opposition, also arguing that pre-10-1 transportation plans were not sufficiently inclusive of all of Austin. Meanwhile, the HTS website proposes approximately $680 million in projects (sources or planning process unknown) including $660 million for over/underpasses at 11 major highway intersections – all but one on far west-side highways. – Michael King

Friends of Austin Neighborhoods hosted a Reddit Ask Me Anything for District 2's council candidates on Friday. Topics included affordability, land use, gender diversity among city staff, mobility, and city billboard ordinances. Though candidates were only asked to stick around for an hour, incumbent Delia Garza answered every question, in all responding eight times through the session. Wesley Faulkner chipped in with four responses, and Casey Ramos, who's young but eager and has positioned himself as somewhat of a budding authority on land use, offered two responses on his area of expertise and left the forum. – Chase Hoffberger

Presumed District Attorney-elect Margaret Moore continues building out her conditional staff. Last week, she announced that Guillermo Gonzalez and Dexter Gilford will join Mindy Montford and former District Judge Don Clemmer (who was appointed to the 450th District Court last year by Gov. Greg Abbott but decided recently not to challenge defense attorney Brad Urrutia for the seat in November's election) at the D.A.'s office, if she is elected. Gonzalez, who's worked as an assistant district attorney in both Travis County and New York City, is expected to oversee the office's trial division, while Gilford will head what Moore is calling a "revamped" Civil Rights Unit, with a focus on "sensitive cases such as police officer-involved shootings and other use of force issues." Moore's opponent, Repub­lican Maura Phelan, has not yet extended any conditional offers to prospective underlings. – C.H.

The Austin Community College Place 9 trustee race has, against all expectations, become one of the area's most contentious elections. Initiated when 22-year incumbent Allen Kaplan stepped down, there was sudden jockeying to become front-runner. However, at least one potential candidate had very unsubtle hints dropped to them that, since the pivotal ACC AFT union endorsement (and the inevitable list of local Democratic endorsements that would fall like dominoes behind it) was almost inevitably going to go to Julie Ann Nitsch, there was no point filing. So why did current Place 6 trustee Guadalupe "Lupe" Sosa, who was supposed to be retiring, jump seats and into the race? According to sources close to the campaigns, Clinton Democrats within the Travis Coun­ty Democratic Party were annoyed that Nitsch – a Bernie Sanders organizer who had been highly critical of the current direction of the party – was the progressive front-runner. They actively pushed Sosa to run, explaining her unexpected last-minute filing.
– Richard Whittaker

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Travis County District Attorney's Office, Margaret Moore, Honest Transportation Solutions, Ora Houston, Mobility Bond, Friends of Austin Neighborhoods, Reddit, Ask Me Anything, November 2016 Election

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