Election Ticker: Run, Run, Run-off Away

It’s a whole new election, y’all! Don’t be alarmed.


Despite its origins as a campaign by panicked center-city neighborhoods, Proposition J mostly won in precincts (shown in blue) outside the core, and especially well outside the city limits, where voters in the ETJ got to weigh in anyway because they're subject to Austin land-use regulations.

We'll be keeping you informed about both the ongoing races for the Dec. 11 run-off and the fallout from the Nov. 6 contests. See our endorsements for the run-off races here, and more coverage at austinchronicle.com/elections.

• A Few Housekeeping Notes: Tuesday, Nov. 20, at City Hall, the results of the Nov. 6 election were officially canvassed, the order of candidates on the run-off ballot was decided by drawing, and city observers and watchdogs – including people who actually ran for office! – donned their tinfoil hats and played Spot-the-Irregularities on social media. To make this simple: Eligible residents of the city of Austin could vote for mayor, their district council member (if on the ballot), and all the propositions (A-K). Voters in limited-purpose annexation areas could vote in the mayor's race and for the two charter amendments (H and I), but not the others. Voters in the city's extraterritorial jurisdiction could weigh in on Prop J because it related to land use regulation, despite not being Austin residents or eligible to vote in any other contest. Some voting precincts in Travis County include all three of these groups; some also include residents of adjoining council districts. Elections are complicated! Do not be alarmed. (By the way, if it hadn't been for those ETJ voters, the anti-CodeNEXT Prop J would have lost by a much wider margin than it did.)...

Harper-Madison's Home Under Scrutiny: City Council District 1 candidate Natasha Harper-Madison defended herself this week against a charge that she's ineligible to compete in the D1 run-off on residency grounds. A client represented by attorney Matthew Tynan filed a complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission, citing Section 145.003 of the Texas Election Code and alleging that Harper-Madison, who finished second in the six-way contest on Nov. 6, has not consistently lived at her 13th Street address and has at times used the District 6 address she shares with her husband. The Election Code and the City Charter require that candidates "reside" in the district they aim to represent for six months prior to the filing date for the election, which was August 20. What constitutes "residing" is not defined; residency challenges happen frequently in Texas elections.

In a Friday letter to the Office of the City Clerk, Tynan demanded the office declare Harper-Madison ineligible and replace her on the ballot with the next-highest vote-getter (that would be Vincent Harding). A city spokesperson told the Chronicle on Tuesday that it's not in the office's purview to do so, and Tynan's client would have to turn to the courts to seek relief. Tynan said via email his client has instructed him to "file a response to address the City's misunderstanding of our original correspondence – but they have not instructed me to file suit."

Harper-Madison responded to the complaint and the underlying question of where she lives in a statement on Friday, explaining that "my husband and I have chosen to co-parent our children and want to maintain stability for them in their daily lives. My relationship with my husband and the school that my children attend should not be important to the Council race, and it has not been made an issue until recently." She goes on to explain that she returned to D1 in 2016, in order to be closer to her family and friends. "My roots are in District 1, my home is in District 1, and I am running to represent and serve in District 1."...

• Don't Ask Us, We Never Read Harry Potter: The bitter battle over Proposition J and "preventing the next CodeNEXT" should have ended Nov. 6, but it apparently continues in astral realms ... or something. Local serial funder/founder guy Dan Graham (founder of BuildASign.com and Notley, "a catalyst for social innovation") has created a GoFundMe campaign for Austin's Defense Against the Dark Arts Fund. In Graham's charmingly dorky venture into the Potterverse, You-Know-Who is the indefatigable attorney/activist Fred Lewis, whose baleful acts include Props J and K, his dalliance with IndyAustin and Pepe the Frog, his lawsuit against the Planning Commission, and his specific complaint against Planning Commissioner and No on Prop J Treasurer Angela De Hoyos Hart, who we guess is Hermione Granger here. While GoFundMe says the campaign, launched Nov. 9, is trending, the fundraising haul seems to have stalled out at $2,323 of a $20,000 goal. For reference, Graham himself maxed out his $350 donation to candidates in five council races this year; in 2016 he did the same, along with $5,000 to support the mobility bond...

• Speaking of Campaign Finance: Lewis made a big ol' deal about Hart's supposed illegality when No on Prop J failed to report its contribution from the Real Estate Council of Austin quickly enough for Lewis to use it as a weapon. He also supported Prop K, whose supporting political action committee disclosed its $9,800 gift from the Travis County Republican Party on Election Day. We will report on Lewis' complaint against Yes on K and the Travis GOP as soon as he files it in some alternate universe. Prop K accounted for the bulk of late-train election cash reported as of press time; also of note is the emergence of the Fair Play Austin PAC, which is Circuit of the Americas owner Bobby Epstein's hostile takeover of the anti-soccer-stadium petition drive from IndyAustin, to which he's given (and the PAC has promptly spent) nearly $70,000...

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

2018 midterm elections, December 2018 Run-off, Austin City Council, Natasha Harper-Madison, Proposition J, Proposition K, Fred Lewis, Dan Graham, Angela De Hoyos Hart, Real Estate Council of Austin, Travis County Republican Party, Bobby Epstein, Circuit of the Americas, Fair Play Austin PAC, soccer stadium

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