The Austin Chronicle

District 10: Gallo and Alter to Run-Off

By Annamarya Scaccia, November 11, 2016, News

When Sheri Gallo ran for Council two years ago, she was one of eight candidates vying for the D10 seat. It was a crowded pool that resulted in a run-off election, which Gallo won by almost 10 points, after finishing well behind in the first round. Fast-forward to 2016, and the council member finds herself in a run-off again, this time against Alison Alter. Gallo closed Tuesday night two points shy of declaring victory and retaining her seat outright.

While a run-off election wasn't the ideal result, Alter remains optimistic about her chances of winning on Dec. 13. "It looks like a majority of the district voted for change," Alter told the Chronicle during her election party Tuesday at Santa Rita. "We're looking forward to fighting for the voices and neighbors of District 10 and represent them."

Tensions rose early in the race between Alter and Gallo. From the beginning, Alter has billed herself as the incumbent's antithesis. She accused the CM of bending to "special interests" and said she'd put "community first." Gallo, in response, has denied that she favors developers over constituents, and instead says her work on Council shows how she's been a pragmatic voice working on behalf of taxpayers. Still, Alter and other critics of the council member say the Grove at Shoal Creek PUD (and, to a lesser extent, the Austin Oaks PUD) should be ample evidence of Gallo's alleged dishonesty as a representative of the district.

The lead-up to the run-off will mean more time for Alter to air these grievances, her camp has said. "A run-off gives us the opportunity to really talk about Sheri Gallo's performance in terms of constituency representation, land use, planning issues, and growth overall," Chris Allen, the co-chair of the Rosedale Neighborhood Association Steering Committee's zoning committee, told the Chronicle Tuesday night. "When people compare the two candidates, the choice should be very clear."

Gallo remains assured of her chances. In a statement, the incumbent said she is "honored to be the clear leader in the race for District 10" despite facing three challengers and an onslaught of negative campaign ads. She made no mention of Alter, but did thank Rob Walker and Nick Virden for "running positive, issued-based campaigns."

"I won a run-off before, and I am totally confident I will win this run-off, too," Gallo said in the statement.

Before the night wound down, Alter addressed the crowd at Santa Rita, thanking everyone who attended for donating to her campaign and canvassing on her behalf. But the Harvard-educated challenger said the fight was far from over. Alter told her supporters she that "needs boots on the ground" for the final push before December. Alter and her camp say this is a prime opportunity to pick up votes previously cast for other challengers in the race.

"Voter turnout on the run-off election is key for us," said Tom Fosburr, a field organizer for Alter's campaign.

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