Tag Archives: austin

New balance of power?

According to a statesman.com article,”The [Tovo vs Shade] race’s outcome could have consequences beyond election day — subtly shifting the dynamics on the council, possibly making it tougher for Leffingwell to push an agenda, and shaping next year’s race for mayor, according to interviews with two dozen people who follow city issues.”  The article compared the current Leffingwell, Martinez and Shade Council members to a cool kids clique that usually gets what it wants.

Council member Sheryl Cole is supporting Kathie Tovo for Council.  Statesman: “”Sheryl has wielded a quiet, intelligent power on the council, especially on Waller Creek. She’s on the rise,” said Fred McGhee , a Tovo supporter and former president of the Black Austin Democrats . “If Kathie decides to overtly align herself with Laura and Bill, then Sheryl will be in a strong position.”

Source A Tovo win could reshape Austin City Council alliances, unsettle balance of power

Austin Chronicle endorses Tovo

The Austin Chronicle has endorsed Kathie Tovo in the runoff for City Council, Austin, Texas. The Chronicle says that “Shade has drifted sideways into apparently unwinnable ethics complaints and “no growth” scare tactics” while Kathie Tovo has remained consistent in her planned approach to Austin’s future.

The Chron says of Tovo “All of us applaud Tovo’s dedicated public service on projects both official (Planning Commission; Austin ISD task forces) and unofficial, and anticipate that if elected, she will bring much beneficial experience to council. Her ongoing efforts to keep open central city schools would be important council assets, as would her interest in inner-city development via affordable, family-friendly neighborhood initiatives.”  And the Chron editorial staff goes on to say of Tovo “that city policy defaults too readily to developer interests and that Tovo’s presence will be a bulwark against such encroachment.”

The Austin American Statesman noted in an article about the runoff that “One political consultant said Sunday that Shade should seriously consider bowing out. “If you’re an incumbent and get less than 50 percent (in a general election), it’s a very bad sign,” said Elliott McFadden , who has worked on local races but none this year. “You’re basically asking voters to re-hire you, and a sizable majority has already said ‘no’ …” before the runoff gets under way, he said.

The Statesman article went on to say “It looked a few months ago like Shade would sail to re-election. She had been raising money since the fall and had no major opponents.  Then she made public hundreds of her emails in response to open records requests; a few showed her disparaging activists and groups that frequent City Hall. Tovo said the emails added to concerns she already had about decision-making at City Hall, spurring her to join the race in March. She raised money at warp speed, loaned her campaign another $53,000 and scooped up endorsements from neighborhood and environmental groups whose members reliably show up to vote in city races.  Moderate and progressive voters who backed Shade in 2008 felt betrayed by her pro-development votes and were ready to support someone else, said Peck Young, who has worked on past council campaigns and now heads the Center for Public Policy and Political Studies at Austin Community College.”

 

 

Kathie Tovo for Austin City Council

Kathie Tovo for Austin City Council
Kathie Tovo for Austin City Council

Kathie Tovo is in a runoff election on June 18 (early voting June 6) with Randi Shade for City Council Place 3, and AustinMayor.com supports her. Former Austin Councilman Max Nofziger, our contributor, also has directed his supporters to Kathie Tovo.  Max was in the primary election with Tovo and Shade.  AustinMayor supported Max in his 2nd place finish in the Mayoral election against Will Wynn, remarkable that he did so well considering he was outgunned financially. Likewise, Tovo was outspent by Shade but managed to win impressively and just shy of a majority in the primary.

 

Here is what Kathie supports:

1. Affordable Housing – all income levels should be able to live in all parts of the city

2. Completing Communities – places where people can live close to where they work and play

3. Neighborhood Schools – keep schools open and growing through city partnerships with neighborhood school districts

4. rebuild trust in City Hall

Election Day – May 14

Early Vote – May 2 – 10

Kathie Tovo website: KathieforAustin.com

 

Austin Chronicle article

Statesman – funds approved for Tovo runoff

Statesman – former Mayor Garcia says Shade should get out and save the city half a mil

Austin Mayor Leffingwell

Brewster McCracken has bowed out of the runoff gracefully, facing a 20 point vote deficit and Lee Leffingwell is Austin’s new mayor.

I’m sure Max will be along soon – when he gets back in town – to give his viewpoint on the Mayor’s race and the future prospects for Austin.

McCracken withdrew just two days after he finished second in the polls behind council member Lee Leffingwell. McCracken made his decision Monday after talking to his supporters, but he says it became apparent on election night that winning a runoff was just too much of an uphill battle.

McCracken received 27 percent of the vote. Leffingwell led with 47 percent, just short of the “50 percent plus one vote” rule, that would have put Leffingwell into a runoff with McCracken.

McCracken said Monday a runoff would have required a tough fundraising drive in tough economic times and that the runoff itself would have been costly for taxpayers to the tune of about half a million dollars.
“I believe that pursuing a runoff election would not be in the best interest of Austin, so that’s why I’m doing it,” said McCracken. “I thought it would have been a distraction in a time when Austin needs to get to work tackling our challenges.”

McCracken offered his support and help to Leffingwell, who will be sworn in next month.

“We know there are some very difficult budget decisions ahead of us,” said Leffingwell. –”It will not exactly be a pleasant time to be mayor, but it’s an important time to be mayor.”

Mayor-elect Leffingwell said his priorities include tackling the budget and establishing a cabinet of community leaders to help advise him.

McCracken had reached his term limits as a council member. He says leaving elected life will give him more time to spend with his 5-year-old son and his new wife. He plans to stay involved with renewable energy issues like the Pecan Street Project.

Leffingwell said Monday that he will consider withdrawing his criminal complaint against McCracken if the issue can be resolved another way, such as by an attorney general’s decision or by city council action.

Stick around Austin Mayor blog for some thoughts and comments from Max Nofziger about Austin’s future.

Runoff: LeeandBrew

LeeandBrew…sounds like a German beer…

The big surprise in the Mayoral election was that almost ALL of the large undecided vote went to Leffingwell.  Brewster and Carole hardly budged from their pre-election poll numbers.

I thought Carole was showing some late momentun, and I felt sure she was really working the Stop Domain! mailing list.  The other big surprise of this election was how little gain she got from that valuable campaign tool.  Either she was unable to reach those specific voters, or they were not motivated enough to return to the polls in large numbers, as they had in November.  Carole only needed a few thousand of them to turn out to support her on that subsidy issue, and she would have passed Brewster…who was/is a big supporter of the Domain subsidies…and would be in the runoff this morning.

Too bad…then we would have a race on our hands:  outsider vs. insider.  We would have a hot discussion of substantive issues, with the candidates highlighting real differences.  This would have been good for Austin and good for Democracy.

With LeeandBrew, we have two sides of the same coin.  Boring…very boring.

In fact, it would not be at all surprising if Brewster announced that  he was dropping out of the race.  It is going to be very difficult for him to raise money, especially because most of Carole’s voters will either not vote, or will vote for Lee.

It’s hard to campaign when you don’t have a chance to win.  The month-long runoff campaign will feel like six months.  Unless Brewster just loves campaigning and the camera (publicity) so much, he would be well-advised to follow Ronney Reynold’s precedent in 1997, when he dropped out of a runoff with Kirk Watson.  I came in third in that race, and it was clear to everyone that my voters were going to go 90% for Watson.

I just don’t see much upside for Brewster if he continues the campaign only to suffer a resounding defeat.  Maybe if he bows out, Lee will drop that criminal complaint he filed about Brewster’s  (alleged) campaign fund-raising violation.

For Brewster to be competitive at all in the runoff, he would have to completely re-invent himself, which would only appear calculated and cynical to the voters.

Carole had the support of the Stop Domain! folks, and that was her only real hope of winning.  But now they are 0-for-2, having suffered a narrow loss in November, and their horse in this race came in a distant third.  I wonder what their next move might be?

I hope they don’t give up and go away, but Leffingwell sure does.  The slow economy is turning out to be hard on the high-end retailers like those at the Domain, and it will become more and more obvious that Leffingwell was willing to risk taxpayer dollars…he must be held accountable for his folly and fiscal irresponsibility.  The media sure isn’t going to do it…they support such special interest subsidies…so it is up to the citizens like Brian Rodgers and Linda Curtis to do it.

Carole was the underdog, and I like underdogs ( having been one most of political career ), especially when you can see a plausibe possibility for their success…a strategy that could really work.  The elements for her success were there, but she was unable to assemble them in a winning strategy.

Her long career in politics is probably over, unless she tries to bring it full circle and run for school board.  But she got only 12,435 votes, a pretty weak showing for someone with such high name ID coming into the race…and she spent a lot of money.

So Lee is going to waltz in, no doubt to continue his big-spending ways and his ignorance of substantive environmental issues…

Come on, Mayor!!  Wake up and DO something!!

How McCracken can win

Lee Leffingwell has nearly half the votes. If you added Carole Strayhorn’s and Brewster McCracken’s votes together they would add up to the same total as Leffingwell. McCracken trailed Leffingwell by 20% in last nights vote.

So, can McCracken turn this around? Not likely. But there is a scenario by which he could make up this gap by the June 13 runoff election. It would be like the Mavs coming back from a 3-0 deficit where they are in the playoffs now, it’s never been done before.

So how can McCracken come back? He’s going to have to do a cold reboot, a complete rebirth. He will need to pick up the Carole / stop domain subsidies/ changeaustin.org vote, woo the environmentalists led by Max Nofziger, dig deeper in to his social networking / social media base, and sharpen his green / high tech message.

McCracken is going to have to revisit his position on corporate subsidies, or he’ll never get the support of Brian Rodgers and Linda Curtis powerhouse mailing list and website. He needs to do some soul searching here and have a one on one with Brian (who should have run for Mayor because he’s the Austinite most deserving and qualified for this post). He doesn’t stand a chance without the support of this major power broker who delivered the votes in the StopDomain referendum and supported Carole Keeton Strayhorn.

McCracken used Michelle Greer ( @michellegreer ), the Statesmans top social media person in Texas, and a team of social networking mavens to build up a modest following on twitter, facebook, myspace on on his blog and website. Now he needs to increase this following a hundred fold and there are social networkers in Austin like @springnet, @perrybelcher and others who have to clout and expertise to help with this.  He may have to reach out to the local team that supported Obama with a social networking strategy.

McCracken needs to re-evaluate his platform on the environment.  Max Nofziger won more votes than any other white guy in Austin election history running on an environmental platform with real substance.  McCracken has come out in support of high tech, green energy iniatives.  Now he needs to really address Austinites environmental concerns.  It would help to meet and discuss these issues with Max and other local environmental groups and leaders.

Is it possible for Brewster to come back?  Sure, it’s possible that the Mavs will win their playoff round too.  He’ll have to seriously consider the factors above in order to rise from the ashes.  It’s possible.  But it will require a complete rebirth and some major changes in his positions that encompass a wider electorate.

And here’s Michelle Greer’s take on Brewster McCracken:

This is harsh, but it just means we need a leader who actually listens to the tech community because although we often don’t realize it, our feedback is incredibly valuable and vital to the Austin economy. We need a leader who wants to expand other industries like the biotech, energy, and film sectors too, because a diversified economy is much more recession-proof. We depend on each other, believe it or not. Brewster McCracken is listening to the leaders in these communities and we need to make sure he’s elected.

Lee Leffingwell wants to focus on key city services like roads, police, etc. That’s great, but I’m sorry, the tech industry is getting more and more competitive each day. Do we want a leader who isn’t really paying attention to this stuff, or do we want someone who will actually foster relationships with business leaders to make Austin a global leader in technology, biotech, energy, music and film?

If you are with me, please consider the following actions:
1.) Remember to vote on May 9th. June 13th.
2.) Express your ideas for Austin at www.ideasforaustin.com and encourage others to do the same.
3.) Consider volunteering for Brewster. You can keep up by subscribing to the email, Twitter, and Facebook updates available at Brewster’s website.

Mayor’s race in dead heat! – KXAN

It looks like Brian Rodgers support for Carole may be reaping dividends, Brian represents the voters than nearly upset the Domain subsidy applecart in the last Austin election.  Carole, despite less campaign funds, has drawn close to McCracken and Leffingwell in the Austin mayor’s race.  Maybe McCracken’s war with St Louis and Leffingwell’s campaign contribution mud slinging at McCracken have played a role in the tightening race as well.

excerpt from KXAN’s article on the latest poll.

AUSTIN (KXAN) – With the big vote for mayor this Saturday,  Austin’s top three Mayoral candidates, according to a most recent KXAN Austin News poll, are in a statistical dead heat.

Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Brewster McCracken, and Lee Leffingwell, are all within the margin of error as front-runner in a KXAN Austin News mayoral poll released Wednesday, conducted by Constitiuent Dynamics.

Lee Leffingwell garnered the most overall support with 27 percent of those polled, Carole Keeton Strayhorn is close behind at 26 percent, and Brewster McCracken came in at 25 percent.

Carole Keeton Strayhorn made the biggest stride from the previous poll, especially with younger voters. Her overall support rose by five percentage points, whereas Brewster McCracken gained one percentage point, and Lee Leffingwell stayed even.

The poll queried 1,000 people in Austin, with a margin of error of plus or minus three percent.

Austin mayor candidates in the news

Mayor’s races heating up in 4 big Texas cities

Houston Chronicle
By ANGELA K. BROWN AP Writer © 2009 The Associated Press FORT WORTH, Texas — Mayors will be elected Saturday in four of the state’s largest cities, …
McCracken broke campaign finance law, Leffingwell camp says

Austin American-Statesman -
By Sarah Coppola | Sunday, May 3, 2009, 08:47 PM A dispute over campaign donations has flared up in the final days of the Austin mayor’s race. …
Mayoral candidates kick campaigns into high gear

CBS 42 -
Election day is less than a week away, and mayoral candidates are out vying for your vote. Major candidates Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Brewster McCracken and …

Mayoral candidates push into final week

News 8 Austin – ‎
More handshaking and less sleep is what the last week of city election campaigning is all about. The countdown to Election Day has begun, and though the …
Mayor’s races heating up in four big Texas cities

KDBC – ‎
AP – May 3, 2009 1:15 PM ET FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – Voters head to the polls Saturday in 4 of the state’s biggest cities to cast ballots in mayoral races. …

Decider’s extremely shallow guide to the Austin mayoral race

Decider Austin – ‎21 hours ago‎
by Dan Solomon May 3, 2009 Austin’s upcoming mayoral race has been generating a resounding “That’s this year?” from many Austin residents, to which we can …
Money in the bank, Austin candidates near Election Day

News 8 Austin – ‎May 2, 2009‎
Austin City Council candidates reported how much campaign money they’ve collected since the start of April, and how much they’ve spent. …
Leffingwell, McCracken enter home stretch with cash to spend

Austin American-Statesman – ‎May 1, 2009‎
By Marty Toohey Mayoral candidates Lee Leffingwell and Brewster McCracken headed into the final stage of the campaign with a hefty lead in cash over the …
St. Louis Won’t be Backin’ McCracken

Riverfront Times – ‎May 1, 2009‎
By Chad Garrison in Follow That Story, Politics That headline courtesy of News 8 in Austin, Texas, where mayoral candidate Brewster McCracken has launched …
Brewster McCracken

Austin Business Journal – ‎May 1, 2009‎
This election comes at a critical time in Austin’s economic history. The foundation of our economy — the semiconductor industry — is moving overseas. …
David Buttross

Austin Business Journal – ‎May 1, 2009‎
My top priorities include providing good quality basic services like good roads and utilities, maintaining public buildings and spaces and ensuring that our …
Lee Leffingwell

Austin Business Journal – ‎May 1, 2009‎
I believe the race for mayor should be a contest of ideas for a city of ideas. That’s why I’ve proposed the broadest and most specific platform of any …

St. Louis won’t be backin’ McCracken

News 8 Austin – ‎May 1, 2009‎
The situation is much like a boxing match. In one corner is Austin mayoral candidate Brewster McCracken. The City of St. Louis, Mo., is in the other. …

St. Louis Declares War On Austin, And Vice Versa

Wonkette (satire) – ‎May 1, 2009‎
Austin mayoral candidate Brewster “Phil” McCracken has ENRAGED the entire city of St. Louis by talking about how horrible they are, vis a vis the completely perfect city of Austin (which many an Austinite will assure you is “not like the rest of Texas” because they “keep it weird” with their single charming homeless man who parades around bus stops in a thong). Anyway, here’s a link to the offending campaign ad. (McCracken is “keeping it weird” by not allowing YouTube embeds, because why would you want people to look at your video all time?)So of course folks in St. Louis, as well as McCracken’s mayoral opponent, have rushed to the defense of the fair midwestern city of hoboes and snakes.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch – ‎Apr 30, 2009‎
By Jake Wagman As already discussed in our Talk of the Day blog, the Austin, Tex. candidate for mayor has a commercial — confined, for the moment at least, …
McCracken ticks off St. Louis with YouTube video

Austin American-Statesman – ‎Apr 30, 2009‎
By Sarah Coppola | Thursday, April 30, 2009, 12:33 PM It’sa good thing that Austin mayoral candidate Brewster McCracken isn’t running for mayor of St. Louis …
Hey Brewster: Here’s some advice for YOU about dissing St. Louis

St. Louis Post-Dispatch – ‎Apr 30, 2009‎
By Amanda St. Amand If your name is Brewster McCracken, you might have had a hard time at recess when you were a kid. Maybe people still pick on him — and …
Brewster McCracken “St. Louis” Ad Causes a Stir

Burnt Orange Report – ‎Apr 29, 2009‎
On it’s face, I think it is a fair comparison and critique. The St. Louis of today is not that of 1904 (nor is Austin for that matter). …
Mayoral candidates take to the airwaves

Austin American-Statesman – ‎Apr 29, 2009‎
Timing their final push to the start of early voting this week, Austin’s main mayoral candidates have begun airing TV ads. …
WATCH: Austin mayoral candidates sound off on budget plans

KVUE – ‎Apr 29, 2009‎
By STEVE ALBERTS The economy will be a big challenge for Austin’s next mayor. He or she may face a $30 million to $40 million budget shortfall. …