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KXAN hosts mayoral debate, releases poll showing close race

Thursday, April 23, 2009 by Austin Monitor

KXAN not only released the results of its poll on mayoral candidates, it gave all those candidates a chance to appear at last night’s mayoral debate—after some prodding from candidates Carole Keeton Strayhorn and Lee Leffingwell.

According to the KXAN poll, Leffingwell is leading with 27 percent, McCracken is second with 24 percent and Strayhorn is in third place with 21 percent with 22 percent undecided. There was no information on the methodology of the polling but KXAN says there is a 3 percent margin of error.

However, Mark Sanders, campaign consultant for mayoral candidate Strayhorn, told In Fact Daily, “We’ve done several polls and it all shows the same thing—it’s a three way race but Carole is in second place.”

Strayhorn also released two TV spots on Wednesday, with Sanders saying she has purchased time on various local and national news programs up to election day on May 9. Her ads criticize the current Council on the city budget which she calls “deficit spending.” City officials deny that they are engaging in such a thing. Strayhorn’s ads also address one of the city’s longest running problems, traffic.

Sources in both the Leffingwell and McCracken campaigns say their TV should start appearing on the local airwaves next Monday.

In Wednesday night’s debate, Strayhorn was on the offensive, with criticism of city budget growth and a commitment to audit Capital Metro to find out “where all that money went” while her opponents Leffingwell and McCracken served on its board.

Strayhorn was elected Austin mayor 32 years ago. In this campaign, Strayhorn’s appearance at forums is so rare – and her speech so energetic and flamboyant — that her comments are noted. Last night, she was hopping mad at Capital Metro, the city budget and the expenditures on a biomass facility in East Texas.

In her comments, Strayhorn also support a strong mayor form of government. She also considered a medical school as a key to an expanded economy in Austin.

While Strayhorn had her claims as the centerpiece of her comments, McCracken offered a couple of attacks on his own toward Leffingwell’s plan to run a bond election for mobility in 2010. Leffingwell noted any bond election next year would be based on the available capacity determined by City Manager Marc Ott.

McCracken noted that a meeting on Wednesday morning with Ott – which also included a report of $30 million shortfall in the upcoming city budget – indicated the city could afford no bond election next year.

Leffingwell countered he would propose no bond election the city could not afford. McCracken intends to make his own bond proposal for 2012. McCracken has said the city will be in a better financial position in 2012 for a bond issue.

Other questions, which drew no surprising answers, included strategies to deal with the noise ordinance and its impact on the local music industry. There was some talk about the current energy decisions. Obviously, the economy – and its downturn — also was a topic of discussion at the mayoral candidate forum.

You can find video at http://www.kxan.com.

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