Travis County & City of Austin Election 2019: Final Results
City propositions go down; Expo Center wins voters' hearts
Both city of Austin propositions on Tuesday's ballot went down in flames, with Prop A – the former anti-soccer initiative – losing 64% to 36%, and Prop B – the effort to thwart the city's desired Convention Center expansion and reallocate Austin's hotel occupancy tax revenue – losing by almost 10 points. Both outcomes were foretold as soon as early voting tallies were released just after 7pm. Mayor Steve Adler told the Chronicle, "I'm relieved ... that the city will be able to avoid significant unintended consequences. I'm proud of the electorate in Austin – they had the patience to work their way through the haze and confusion generated about these propositions. And one more thing: These propositions cost a lot of money and take a lot of time. I urge everybody, when they sign a petition, to make sure they have all the information that they want and need, and don't sign a petition just because somebody asks them."
• Meanwhile, Travis County's Prop A – enabling the redevelopment of the Exposition Center via a county HOT – won big, which Commissioner Jeff Travillion dubbed a "long overdue" investment in the Eastern Crescent. County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said in an election-night statement she looks forward to finding out "how soon [the city] will relinquish" its claim to these same hotel tax revenues; Adler, who says he's "a big fan of the Expo Center," told us, "We'll need to continue looking at that."
• As for the constitutional amendments, local voters said yes to Prop 1, which failed statewide, and no to Props 4 and 9, both of which passed statewide. We'll see if any of the more dire fears cited by opponents of Prop 4 – nominally a symbolic statement against a nonexistent state income tax – come to pass or can be averted.
• In the closely watched special election in Katy's Texas House District 28, Democrat Eliz Markowitz led the field with 39.1% of the vote in the race to succeed retired GOP Rep. John Zerwas; she'll face the top Republican finisher, Gary Gates, in a December run-off. Both Markowitz and Gates are expected to file (starting next week) for the 2020 primaries for HD 28, one of the Texas Dems' top targets in their quest to pick up nine seats and flip the state House; this special election is mostly for bragging rights going into the real showdown next November.
• Also heading to a run-off next month: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who got 47% of the vote in his reelection effort. He'll face wealthy trial lawyer and Rick Perry confidant Tony Buzbee (28%) in the second round. In Austin, it's become a tradition that candidates who finish that far back gracefully withdraw from the run-off, but Houston has no such norms.