Austin at Large: Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa

Have a problem with our endorsements? That’s not news! Here’s some of what we’ve heard.

Celia Israel after voting for herself for Austin mayor on Tuesday (Courtesy of Celia Israel's campaign)

An Associated Press story on Wednesday, Oct. 26, dove into a topic I raised last week, with this lede: "Newspaper endorsements are fading away as prizes to be nabbed by political campaigns, the practice a victim of both the news industry's troubles and the era's bitter politics." The story assumes a state and rate of decline that's not quite borne out by the reporting: It notes declines in top-of-ticket endorsements for president, governor, or U.S. Senate, and observes that there are simply fewer newspapers in the U.S. now, with fewer people writing for them. And big chains like Gannett and McClatchy have an incentive to discourage provoking MAGAmuffins and investing a bunch of resources in opinion pages, which Gannett is on the cusp of eliminating (at least daily) at a lot of its 220-ish papers. But Austin is, of course, different, and the Gannett-owned Statesman rolled out its picks over the weekend, and sorry about that, Kirk Watson. The AP, being exactly the kind of mainstream press voice I was slagging on last week, spins this as: "The days when a prominent endorsement would quickly make its way into a campaign ad, or voters would clip out an editorial to take into the voting booth, seem destined for history." The ad pages of this very issue of the Chronicle would seem to disprove this.

About Round Rock ISD

What we and the Statesman both did, and what McClatchy will now do, is talk to candidates in key races before making our endorsements. (This is why we skipped some races as well, including Texas House District 19, but really, do you need us to tell you not to vote for grifting treason apologist Ellen Troxclair?) That's why we didn't mean to be "endorsing" in Round Rock ISD last week; we just wanted to put people on notice that there's a hard-MAGA slate (including Trox's former Council comrade, perennial candidate/bridge troll Don Zim­merman) trying to sweep the school board, and RRISD watchers have already endured two years of chaos with just two of these nutters on the board, not all seven. What we knew and readers did not is that we have a deeply reported long-read coming up about this insanity, which stopped being funny a really long time ago and which is wholly inorganic to what is actually a working- and middle-class, ethnically diverse district that includes lots of Austin families and is mostly represented by Democrats at the county and state level. In retrospect, yes, we should have made time to do proper endorsements in the RRISD races, which we'd never done before to my knowledge, but times have changed. In any event, this issue tells you who to vote for; see our Endorsements.

About Linda Guerrero

This issue also has Austin Sanders' District 9 feature, which uses the planned Cady Lofts – supportive housing for those exiting homelessness, to be built about a block from the Chronicle in Hancock – as a case study of the different positions taken by the D9 race's many urbanists on the one hand, and Hancock neighbor Linda Guerrero on the other. We, of course, got raked by the usual folks, most of whom are largely friendly to the Chronicle, for co-endorsing Guerrero in D9, but I don't think our reasoning is that hard to parse – Ben Leffler's the better candidate, but Guerrero has done a lot of homework over 25 or so years on the board-and-commission circuit that could count for something in office. I feel like trying to pin Guerrero down on how she really feels about Cady Lofts, which the Hancock neighbors ended up supporting, is verging on thoughtcrime – the point of this case is that the reflexive deferral to neighbors and NIMBYs should not, and I'm guessing will not, go unchallenged by people who care about social justice. Because those folks came out to support Cady Lofts in the real world, she lost! (Also, in the real world beyond the Chronicle, newspaper publishers, who are generally more conservative than newspaper writers, have far more relative power over endorsements than is the case with us.) Y'all pipe down.

About the Generations

So, I'm three years younger than Celia Israel, and she's six years younger than Kirk Watson. In our endorsement last week, I described her as a "queer Gen X Latina" and encountered howls of protest from people who support Watson and think my characterization granted her too much youth appeal. It is a testament to our ridiculous gerontocracy (which will never change because old people vote and they don't care how old Nancy Pelosi or Kirk Watson are) that being in your mid-50s is seen as aligning oneself with the youth vote. But yes, I guess it's true that while I am an old Gen Xer (why yes, I do still own factory cassette tapes that I purchased from the Columbia House Record Club), both Watson and Israel are in fact boomers.

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