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Sonleitner, Gomez, Davis re-elected

Wednesday, November 6, 2002 by

With all the boxes finally counted about 12:30 am, Travis County Clerk Dana De Beauvoir reported that 40.41 percent of the county’s voters had cast their votes. The total number of ballots was 219,958. She said, based on Early Vote numbers, she had been expecting as much as 50 percent of the electorate to cast ballots.

It was a long night for some candidates, but the two men running for County Judge got the news early. Early vote totals showed incumbent Democrat Sam Biscoe handily beating his Republican opponent Bob Honts with 54 percent of the vote.

Honts’campaign manager Seton Motley, said he was “stunned” by the early vote, which he had predicted the Republican would win easily. Motley said there were 27 precincts in which 30 percent or more of the registered voters had voted early. Of those, 25 were west of MoPac and two were east of I-35, he said, making him believe that the county’s most conservative voters had already voted. “I guess it’s still a Democratic county,” he concluded.

Democratic consultant Maury Lane, who assisted Biscoe in fundraising and TV advertising late in the campaign, said, “This was a history lesson. If you have a bad history with the county, the county’s not going to accept you.” The Biscoe Campaign managed to highlight Honts’ record of bankruptcy, a criminal charge related to use of his county cell phone and a number of liens filed for non-payment of taxes.

Biscoe said he knew he would do well in Precincts 1 and 4, where more black and Hispanic voters live, and that he would probably do reasonably well in Pct. 2. The hard part of the county was expected to be Pct. 3, so he was heartened when the Early Vote was counted. However, Lane also directed Democrat Margaret Moore’ s unsuccessful effort to keep her seat as County Commissioner for Precinct 3. Moore, who was appointed to replace Todd Baxter when he resigned to run for the House Dist. 48 seat, got only 42 percent of the early vote—the same as Honts. The difference, of course, was that Honts was running countywide and Moore was trying to win a decidedly Republican district. She was unavailable for comment.

It seemed more like a high school football game than an election return when Gerald Daugherty arrived at the Crockett Center just before 10 pm. He was surrounded by a throng of supporters shouting “Gerald! Gerald! No more traffic!” He was showing a strong early lead and his entourage let the entire election center know it

Daugherty, who could be sworn in as soon as votes are canvassed next week, said he would focus on traffic and property taxes. “I will stay true to my convictions,” he said, “we need to do something about these things,” and as a County Commissioner, he said he believes he will have the ability to make a difference.

State Senate and House races

Even though he was trailing by 10 points, Republican Ben Bentzin didn’t think the negative ads he ran against Democratic opponent Gonzalo Barrientos hurt him. Bentzin, who was trying to unseat the incumbent State Senator in District 14, said the record voter turnout was evidence that the ads didn’t keep voters at home.

“We wanted an issues campaign,” said Bentzin. He said the personal attacks were meant to question the senator’s leadership potential—which he believes was a major campaign issue, along with taxes, traffic and healthcare.

Barrientos said that his campaign didn’t slide into mudslinging. “We ran a positive campaign,” he said. Issues, like reducing insurance rates and revamping the ‘Robin Hood’ plan, dominated his campaign, he said.

With 68 percent of the vote, incumbent Pct. 4 Commissioner Margaret Gomez enjoyed a sizable lead over Republican opponent Mike Hanson, who was never perceived as a serious threat. “I’m really appreciative of the voters and really happy with the turnout,” she said.

Republican candidate for Commissioner Pct. 2 Sheri Perry Gallo said, “We jumped into this race knowing it was going to be difficult,” especially because she was running against a longtime incumbent. She said she was pleased with “the support from lots of people . . . We talked about issues. It stayed a clean race, for which I give my opponent credit . . . I’m pleased with the numbers,” saying that her poll numbers improved toward the end of the campaign. Gallo got 45.63 percent compared to Sonleitner’s 50.58 percent. Libertarian Thomas Allen received 3.79 percent of the vote.

Democratic Rep. Ann Kitchen, who lost an uphill battle to keep her Dist. 48 seat in the heavily Republican western part of Travis County, said, “I think that I tried to keep the campaign on the issues, but I don’t think we really had a chance to talk about the issues. We all worked together very hard. It’s going to be a tough session next year, so I wish whoever’s going to be there the best.”

Kitchen’s opponent, former Pct. 3 Commissioner Todd Baxter, told In Fact Daily, “I’m excited and honored not only to win, but to win with a very convincing margin. This was a family effort,” he said, naming numerous members of his family.

“Wonderful!” is how Republican Jack Stick, the new Representative for House District 50 said he was feeling around 10:30 Tuesday night. “It’s the end of a long day and a long 13 months,” he said.

“I’ve enjoyed help from lots of people,” he said, mentioning fellow Republican Terry Keel and Victory 2002. “There are lots of grassroots folks in the district. It’s humbling.”

When asked what he planned to do today, Stick said, “I’m going to sleep!” After that, he said he would write a whole lot of thank you notes and then, “I’m going to get to work.” He said he had a lot of reading to do in preparation for the January start of the legislative session.

In his first bid for office, Stick said his campaign “went exactly as planed, no fumbles or errors.” The only negative aspect came towards the very end. “I was saddened,” he said, because “during the last week of the campaign my opponent spent $105,000 in negative campaign mail.”

Rep. Terry Keel, who was re-elected to his District 47 seat with more than 60 percent of the vote, said, “Obviously, some Democrats voted for me too.” He said he was pleased and somewhat surprised at that because “it’s a competitive district.”

Just the Numbers

These are the unofficial vote totals from the Travis County Clerk's Office early this morning. * Designates incumbents

County Judge (R) Bob Honts: 40.51 percent *(D) Sam Biscoe: 54.33 percent (L) Jason Pratt, 5.16 percent

Pct. 2 *(D) Karen Sonleitner: 50.58 percent (R) Sheri Perry Gallo: 45.63 percent.

(L)Thomas Allen: 3.79 percent

Pct. 3 (R) Gerald Daugherty: 53.54 percent *(D) Margaret Moore: 42.93 (L) William Brooks: 3.52

State Senate District 14 *(D) Gonzalo Barrientos: 52.79 percent (R)Ben Bentzin: 43.03 percent (L) Marianne Robbins: 4.18 percent

House Rep. Dist. 50 (R) Jack Stick: 56.03 percent (D) James Sylvester: 40.85 (L) Rob Le Grand: 3.4 percent

House Rep. Dist. 48 (R ) Todd Baxter: 52.38 percent

*(D)Ann Kitchen: 45.38 percent (L) Michael Badnarik: 2.24 percent

House Rep. Dist. 46 *(D) Dawnna Dukes: 88.31 (L) Dave Nalle: 11.69

House Rep. Dist. 47 *(R) Terry Keel: 63.18 percent (D) Bill Martin: 32.69 (G) Sarah DuBose: 4.13

City Manager's group will look at accounting, purchasing practices

The Council Audit and Finance Committee reviewed the work plan of both the Office of the City Auditor and the City Manager ’s new Internal Audit Group at yesterday’s meeting.

The four-member Internal Audit Group is intended to make sure the city’s decentralized accounting and purchasing structure for various departments has proper controls, said Vickie Schubert, acting director of the Financial and Administrative Services Department.

One of the key tasks of the team will be to check each department’s internal controls to ensure that goods purchased by the city are received and being used for city purposes. The team also will look at performance measures.

“This is not to say we may not look at efficiencies and economies,” Schubert said. “However, we’re going to have to have some basic building blocks, basic internal controls.”

To that end, the work of the internal audit team will be split into four areas:

• Transaction Sampling – The team will spend 1,500 hours in the upcoming year to review the payroll and purchasing procedures of each department, as well as cash handling methods. The team also will look for compliance and consistency.

• Performance Measure Certification – Another 1,500 hours will be spent to verify that each department’s performance measures are accurate and consistent. A great deal of the decision-making at budget time, Schubert said, is based on performance measures supplied by each department head. The team will create a consistent system, to make sure “who counts what, how they count it and that we count it consistently from year-to-year.”

• Other Possible Audits – Another 2,500 hours will be spent to handle audit projects on an “as needed” basis. Some of the projects suggested by Schubert include the interlocal agreements for the regional emergency services center, the City Hall CIP, citywide cash collections and franchise audit assistance. The goal is to maintain some flexibility to assess projects, as the City Manager deems necessary. The corporate internal audit committee, headed by Deputy City Manager Joe Canales, will assign projects.

• Supervisory Review and Assistance – The team will spend an estimated 500 hours working with the various city departments, Schubert said.

The Office of the City Auditor has created its own work plan, which follows the goals set out under the City Charter. A draft of the work plan, to be approved by the Audit and Finance Committee next month, includes a review of the risk factors for each city department. A third of the departments will be addressed each year.

Possible departments up for review this year would include public safety and city utilities, said City Auditor Steve Morgan. Council Member Betty Dunkerley worked closely with the Office of the City Auditor to outline a work plan.,

© 2002 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

Green losing? . . . Early today it appeared that Dripping Springs Rick Green, the District 45 Republican, had lost his bid for re-election—but only by about 400 votes. Newcomer Patrick Rose, a Democrat, held the lead in both Hays and Caldwell Counties . . . His Honor honored . . . Mayor Gus Garcia yesterday was appointed to the Urban Water Council (UWC) by the US Conference of Mayors. The Urban Water Council functions like a task force, providing Mayors with a focal point for discussion of issues surrounding how cities provide water and wastewater services and protection of water resources. Garcia has been involved in lobbying Congress and for more funds to enhance Austin’s Clean Water and water reuse programs . . . Council worksession . . . The Austin City Council will meet at 10am this morning to receive information on the activities and plans of the Music Commission and hear a briefing on the Downtown Austin Mobility Plan. The session will be in Room 325 of One Texas Center . . . Scenic Austin benefit . . . Scenic Austin, whose slogan is “growth doesn’t have to be ugly,” is hosting a fundraiser from 6:30 to 8:30pm Thursday at Mercury Hall, 615 Cardinal Lane (at South First Street). The group, which works to prevent the spread of billboards and other eyesores, has promised tacos, beer and music by the Damnations. Could be more fun than the predicted long City Council meeting . . . Park money approved . . . Travis County commissioners have approved a $2.4 million contract with Keystone Construction to complete the first project in Phase II of Northeast Metro Park. The construction project, part of the 2001 bond issue, will provide additional sports fields, a concession building, sidewalks and restrooms at the park. The construction will take roughly four months to complete . . . Chamber moving . . . The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce is moving from its downtown offices across the Congress Avenue Bridge to 210 Barton Springs Road, Suite 400. On Thursday, the chamber’s board and some other members will walk across the bridge, carrying “important belongings” to make the move official. At 11am, the chamber will hold a press conference and unveil a new logo and sign. But will they all change their names to Bubba or Bubbette? . . . Zoning and Platting Commission report . . . The Zoning and Platting Commission met for about an hour last night, giving two applicants positive recommendations on their zoning change requests and postponing a number of others. Consultant Sarah Crocker won unanimous support for a change from SF-3 to NO for a 1.8 acre site at 7402 Brodie Lane. The property is located over the Recharge Zone of the Edwards Aquifer and staff recommended against the change because of complications that may arise from water quality regulations and rules governing parking lots and driveways. Crocker said her client’s talent agency would generate little traffic because she does most of her business via computer and phone. The commission also unanimously recommended that zoning on a lot at Palo Duro Road and Koenig Lane be changed from MF-3 to NO-MU-CO, with a single residential unit allowed on the property, which sits directly adjacent to a neighborhood. Commissioner Janis Pinelli was absent due to illness.

© 2002 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

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