Strong Student Support Buoys Qadri in D9 Race

Zo Qadri and Linda Guerrero go into overtime

Linda Guerrero (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Ben Leffler (center) (Photo by John Anderson)

In District 9, term-limited Kathie Tovo will be replaced after a decade on Council by either Zohaib "Zo" Qadri or Linda Guer­rero. Qadri, a young progressive of South Asian descent, ended the night just shy of 30% of the vote in a field of eight candidates. Guerrero, an older Latina with deep ties to Austin's neighborhood groups, finished election night with 22.3% of the vote, just barely edging out another young progressive, Ben Leffler, who took in 21.2% of the vote – a difference of 396 votes.

Qadri's support was heavily concentrated in the UT-Austin area, where he won all eight precincts and earned 60% of his 10,759 total votes. That could be problematic for him in the run-off, which will take place during UT finals; he'll have to expand his base by appealing to Leffler's voters while working hard to get the college vote out to the polls one last time. "D9 is the youngest and most progressive district in the city, with more renters impacted by our affordability crisis," Qadri wrote in a statement late on election night. "Tomorrow, we will continue to work harder and build a broader coalition to bring leadership deserving of our district." Leffler did best on the edges of the urban-core district – Clarksville, Cherrywood, Mueller, North Loop, East Riverside; while Greg Smith finished a distant fourth overall, he led in the four Downtown/Rainey boxes.

As the least urbanist candidate in the race and Tovo's choice for successor, Guerrero did best in "the neighborhoods" in D9 – Travis Heights, Bouldin Creek, Hyde Park – but even there never cracked 30%, compared to Qadri's 63% in the largest campus box. While those voters are much more likely to come back for a run-off, many of them voted for Leffler, and Qadri himself held his own. (Tom Wald and Joah Spearman were barely a factor anywhere.) Both remaining candidates have been solid fundraisers. Guerrero says her run-off campaign will address "housing affordability, the rising costs of living and the importance of protecting our environment." She pointed to her experience on city boards and commissions and said it has molded her into a "consensus builder."

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Zo Qadri, Linda Guerrero, November 2022 Elections, Ben Leffler

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