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Downtown advocate Riley plans run for Place 1 Council seat

Thursday, October 30, 2008 by Austin Monitor

Downtown neighborhood advocate and attorney Chris Riley said Wednesday that he plans to run for a seat on the City Council next spring. However, Riley, who resigned his seat on the Planning Commission in order to be actively involved in the downtown neighborhood plan, said he no longer plans to run for the Place 5 seat to replace Brewster McCracken.


Instead, Riley said he intends to run for Place 1, assuming that Lee Leffingwell gives up that seat to run for mayor. Both McCracken and Leffingwell have indicated that they would like to be Mayor. Since McCracken’s term ends next May, he can announce his candidacy in November without jeopardizing the seat he currently has. Leffingwell, on the other hand, was just elected to his second term, so a premature announcement on his part could trigger a special election.


Riley indicated that his decision to run for Place 1 instead of Place 5 came after he learned that former Council Member Bill Spelman had decided to run for Place 5 instead of running for Mayor.


Riley practiced law for 17 years, first with the Supreme Court and then with the Rusk Law Firm, which relocated to Georgetown last year. He said he has spent most of his time this year working on a website for the Old Austin neighborhood, which he enthusiastically describes as tracing its roots back to Austin’s beginning in 1839. The site is


Riley, who lives in the neighborhood, said, I think the history of this neighborhood is such an important part of its character, I wanted to provide a place where we could make that accessible I would like to see more residential character returned to this neighborhood.

Riley said he has also been practicing a little pro bono law. He intends to make an announcement of his candidacy within the next few weeks. Other possible candidates for either Place 5 or Place 1 include neighborhood advocate Kathy Tovo and Planning Commissioner Perla Cavazos. Neither has taken any official step to run for office.


As City Clerk Shirley Gentry explained, candidates may file a designation of campaign treasurer at any time, and may begin collecting funds to run for next May’s election on November 10. Those designating a treasurer are not required to indicate which seat they are seeking. The official first filing date to be on the May 9, 2009 ballot is Feb. 7, so the candidates have several months to ponder which place to pursue.

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