The Austin Chronicle

Election Notes: Campaign Finance Time

Who’s got the money?

By Chase Hoffberger, Mary Tuma, Nina Hernandez, and Austin Sanders, July 20, 2018, News

Second-quarter fundraising figures are trickling in, and two Democratic congressional candidates in the five local Republican-held districts have outraised their GOP counterparts. Both MJ Hegar (running against Rep. John Carter in CD 31) and Joseph Kopser (Chip Roy, CD 21) raised more than their opponents and claimed more cash on hand. And while conservative Rep. Roger Williams has more than $1.1 million on hand than his opponent Julie Oliver in CD 25, the Dem raised $3,000 more than the incumbent. – C.H.

Former City Council Member Laura Morrison used her first filing to further position her challenge to Mayor Steve Adler as a "David versus Goliath battle." Morrison's campaign raised $120,294, including $92,294 from more than 600 individual donors, and drew attention to Adler's January filing, which reported campaign loans to himself in excess of $500,000. Adler responded by filing his second report, showing more than 2,400 total contributors and $574,666 raised. – C.H.

How did Ellen Troxclair's three challengers respond to news that the incumbent would drop out of the Dis­trict 8 Council race? In a Facebook post, Rich DePal­­ma took the opportunity to address the southwest district's growing need for "REAL" property tax relief, increased government transparency, affordable housing, and transportation solutions. Attorney Bobby Levinski thanked Troxclair for her service and wrote that "now is the time to bring a new direction" to the district. And marketing specialist Paige Ellis said in a statement that since there's no incumbent in the race, "our community has an opportunity to elect someone like myself who is not a city hall insider." Ellis' latest fundraising report shows $12,401 cash on hand, from 174 donations at an average of $58 per donation. DePalma, meanwhile, has $27,436, just under Levin­ski's $28,000.  – M.T.

With incumbent Ora Houston not in the race for City Council District 1, there's a lot of money up for grabs in the race to become the East Austin district's next representative. And while Natasha Harper-Madison brought in $12,240 in contributions, Mariana Salazar claims $7,035, and Lewis Conway Jr. has received $5,192, the big winner of the July filing is the last person to formally enter the race: former Travis County Democratic Party Chair Vincent Harding. In just the last month, Harding has raked in $25,414. – N.H.

When Linda O'Neal thought about running for public office, she figured she would start with the school board; she has been a high school teacher for 15 years, so it would have been a natural fit. But then a volunteer for Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo knocked on O'Neal's door and asked her to sign a petition that would enable the District 9 council member to skirt the City Charter and seek a third term. "Term limits exist for a reason," O'Neal said last week. The moment compelled her to run for City Council.

O'Neal says she's skeptical of "handouts" given to developers in the form of tax incentives. She pointed to the offer from Precourt Sports Ventures to move the Columbus Crew to Austin and build a stadium at McKalla Place (without paying property taxes) as an example of Council "paying lip service" to affordability issues, because the lot had previously been identified by city staff as a potential location for affordable housing. She said if the team wanted to move here, they should do more "than just throw taxpayers a bone" with community benefits.

Although O'Neal faces an uphill battle against the incumbent (not to mention the well-funded challenger, Danielle Skidmore), she feels confident in her chances. "I come from the ground up, I'm fighting this campaign from the ground up, and I think Tovo has lost her touch with the voters," she said. – A.S.

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