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Galindo, Morrison go head to head in June 14 runoff

Monday, May 12, 2008 by Mark Richardson

In the Council race with the largest number of candidates, Place 4, former Austin Neighborhoods Council president Laura Morrison and former Planning Commission member Cid Galindo will face each other in a June 14 run-off.


Morrison received 12,882 votes, or 38.57 percent of the light turnout, while Galindo received 9,729 or 29.13 percent. Attorney Robin Cravey was third with 6,825 votes (20.44 percent); perennial candidate Jennifer Gale was fourth with 1,951 votes (5.84 percent). Parole officer Sam Osemene had 1,419 votes (4.25 percent), and real estate broker Ken Vasseau got 592 votes (1.77 percent).


At a post-election party Saturday night at Waterloo on Lamar Boulevard, Morrison said she was pleased at the outcome of her first run for office.


“I’m pretty pleased with it. It’s a challenge to run a campaign. There’s not enough money ever to do everything you want. We had some terrific staff and volunteers, too. I feel really pleased about how it has turned out,” Morrison said, adding that she has learned a lot from the experience. “I knew I was going into something new, So I didn’t really expect anything. It was all new, and it was a case of just absorbing all the new situations and learning how to grow into a candidate as the campaign went on.”


Something she was not pleased with was the low overall turnout in the election, and the potential for an even lower turnout in the runoff.


“June 14 is going to be a really hard time to get people to go to the polls for the fourth time in three months,” Morrison said


As the trailing candidate going into the runoff, Galindo will have the largest burden to overcome. Galindo’s consultant, Jeff Crosby, said voting has consistently run somewhere around 55,000 in recent elections. The turnout in this election was somewhere around 27,000.


Crosby attributes the low showing to a couple of factors: no mayor’s race on the ballot and a case of election fatigue that came after the absolute high of the Democratic primary


“It’s pretty hard to top something like that,” Crosby said. “We really had no huge controversy dominating the election, and there wasn’t a whole lot of interest there.”


At a post-election party at a downtown space owned by Galindo, the mingling crowd around 9:30pm was small: a number of pro-transportation types; some younger campaign workers; family members; and a sprinkling of supporters from the fire and police unions dropping in to congratulate Galindo on making the runoff.


The atmosphere at Morrison headquarters was loud and upbeat, with a smattering of neighborhood group leaders – her core constituency — Democratic Party operatives and a number of City Hall regulars.


Morrison said she will continue to work hard during the runoff election.


“I’m up for whatever the future brings,” she said. “I’ve never been in a campaign before and I learned early on that it’s all about doing something new every day and meeting the challenge. So whatever the future brings is good.”


Galindo said he would continue to stress that his plan against urban sprawl is pro-neighborhood. “This whole plan is built around what we like about neighborhoods,” he said, admitting that while his plan may be sophisticated, he stressed that, at its core, it’s still fairly easy to understand. Traffic congestion is the city’s No. 1 issue.


“My message is a simple message,” Galindo said. “People want us to reduce traffic congestion, and I’ve got a simple plan for how that can work, using my background as an urban planner.”


Third-place finisher Cravey said he believes a lot of people responded to his campaign to make Austin a more bicycle and pedestrian-friendly city.


“I think I ran a positive campaign for what I think the future of Austin should be, and I think a lot of people responded to that,” he said. “I feel really good about that.”


He said that having a smaller war chest than his opponents hurt his ability to get his message out.


“It (money) helps a lot,” Cravey said. “I’ve always been in favor of public funding of campaigns and that’s one reason why. Money doesn’t always win, but usually it does.”


Cravey said he would wait until Monday morning to meet with his campaign staff and ponder what is next. He would not comment on whether he plans to support either Morrison or Galindo in the runoff election.

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