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BAT PAC endorses Meeker, Morrison for Council

Wednesday, March 19, 2008 by Austin Monitor

The Better Austin Today Political Action Committee issued its endorsements in the upcoming City Council races on Tuesday. The group formed by leaders of several different environmental, neighborhood, and small business groups is backing Jason Meeker in Place 1 and Laura Morrison in Place 4, but did not issue an endorsement in the Place 3 race between incumbent Council Member Jennifer Kim and challenger Randi Shade.

 

“Jason Meeker is a fresh voice for change in Place 1. Meeker’s passion for ensuring all stakeholders have a seat at the table is exactly what Austin needs to counter the perceived insider mentality and special-interest domination of City Hall,” said BAT PAC Board Member Randall Terrell during the group’s announcement at City Hall. “He has the vision Austin needs and a reliable commitment to crafting inclusive solutions that stands in stark contrast to the current Council.”

 

Incumbent Place 1 Council Member Lee Leffingwell sought the group’s endorsement and responded to their written questionnaire. His responses, along with those of all the other candidates, are posted on the group’s web site at http://www.betteraustintoday.org/page/Completed+Questionnaires

 

Although leaders of RG4N helped found the Better Austin Today PAC (and Meeker notes in his response to their questionnaire that he “helped name the organization, when I proposed the name as BAT-PAC for Bettering Austin Today”), Terrell said BAT PAC’s endorsement of Meeker was not a foregone conclusion. “Winning our endorsement requires candidates to go beyond appealing to a single constituency or a limited area of city policy,” he said. “Instead, a broad coalition of interests insures that anyone we endorse is a  best all-around candidate who will bring a comprehensive view to the office…act with the big picture in mind and a commitment to open and inclusive government.”

 

Terrell said Laura Morrison met those qualifications and had also earned the group’s support. “Laura Morrison is far and away the best choice for Place 4. She is best known for her stellar service as president of the Austin Neighborhoods Council,” he said. “But Morrison’s qualifications go beyond neighborhood and environmental interests. She understands the importance of smart economic policy and giving social equity issues the attention they deserve.”

 

The group was unable to reach a conclusion on an endorsement in Place 3. The group’s guidelines call for a vote of 60 percent or more in favor of a particular candidate to issue an endorsement. While Terrell would not release specific vote totals from the group’s endorsement meeting, he did say neither Jennifer Kim nor Randi Shade met that threshold.

 

Members of BAT PAC say they will now turn their attention to fundraising and building support for their chosen candidates. “At this point, we’ve been involved in the birth of a new organization,” Terrell said. “Now, we get to something that I think most of us know pretty well, which is straight-forward activism: fundraising, getting people out to vote, and hopefully influencing the outcome of the election.”

 

Although the new PAC has raised only about $22,000, one of the group’s leaders, Hope Morrison, said, “We think our strength is in our constituencies,” as opposed to the PAC’s ability to help candidates financially.

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