Election Run-Off Results: Alter to City Council
Alter, Nitsch, and Hassan emerge victorious in Tuesday’s run-off
A long, contentious City Council race found District 10 Council Member Sheri Gallo losing her re-election bid on Tuesday to rival Alison Alter, a political newcomer who's promised to put "community first" if elected. Early voting numbers posted by the Travis County clerk on Tuesday night showed the incumbent trailing by 32 points – a deficit that narrowed merely four points when Tuesday's votes were tallied. Alter won the D10 seat with 64% of the votes.
"I'm very excited and honored to be entrusted with [the] responsibilities to represent District 10," Alter, a philanthropic adviser, told the Chronicle. She thanked Gallo for her service and she said she looks forward to working with the outgoing council member, her fellow officials on the dais, and "the residents of District 10."
Alter's victory can be seen as an upset in what was a hotly contested race. Gallo appeared the front-runner after November's election, when she earned 48% of the votes to Alter's 36%. (Challengers Nick Virden and Rob Walker grabbed a combined 16%.) Yet the incumbent couldn't keep her campaign above water as she fielded a number of accusations from oppositional PACs in the lead-up to Tuesday's run-off. Gallo faced outspoken criticism since the start of the race for allegedly catering to special interests instead of the needs of the neighborhood – an indictment grounded in her work on the Grove at Shoal Creek and Austin Oaks PUDs, which ultimately proved fatal to her chances at retaining her seat. Gallo only mustered 5,315 of the combined 14,757 votes cast, as voter turnout finished at 22.3% of registered voters.
"The election provided a clear indicator that people want to shape our growth as much as they can," Alter said the morning after her win. "That they value the city that we are and that they want to grow in ways that are consistent with what we love about Austin."
Gallo didn't return the Chronicle's requests for comment. – Annamarya Scaccia
Nitsch, Hassan to the Board at ACC
Two firsts for Austin Community College Tuesday night: Its board of trustees will soon see its first Muslim and student members. In Place 4, Former Obama for America regional director Sean Hassan romped to an easy victory over former Texas Education Agency auditor Michael J. Lewis. And in Place 9, student and former Bernie Sanders campaign worker Julie Ann Nitsch pulled a surprisingly easy upset over Guadalupe Sosa.
Sosa has held the ACC Place 6 seat since 2010, and originally announced she planned to retire this year. However, when Place 9 incumbent Allen Kaplan announced he was retiring with two years left on his six-year term, Sosa filed to replace him. Her ousting by Nitsch may be a shot across the bows of establishment progressives: Sosa is a longtime Democratic mainstay, while Nitsch has that Sanders tie.
Unsurprisingly, the bulk of the turnout in both races was in Travis County (22,574 of the 25,636 votes cast in Place 4, and 22,448 out of 25,556 in Place 9), rather than the outlying counties within the far-flung ACC district (Bastrop, Williamson, and Hays). Overall turnout was an anemic 4.5%. – Richard Whittaker
City Council District 10
Alison Alter 9,442 64.0%
Sheri Gallo 5,315 36.0%
ACC Trustee, Place 4
Sean Hassan 15,124 67.0%
Michael J. Lewis 7,450 33.0%
ACC Trustee, Place 9
Julie Ann Nitsch 13,618 60.7%
Lupe Sosa 8,830 39.3%