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Gomez rides East Austin base to victory

Wednesday, March 3, 2010 by Jacob Cottingham

Margaret Gomez won a fourth consecutive term as Travis County Precinct 4 Commissioner last night, besting her challenger, former City Council Member Raul Alvarez in a campaign that seemed to pit the old school versus the new. Gomez netted 53 percent of the vote to Alvarez’s 47 percent, beating him by nearly 400 votes.


Gomez didn’t take reelection for granted, and told In Fact Daily she had woken up Monday night at 2am unable to sleep because of her nervousness about the election the next day. Still, her experience in the East Austin community seemed to help her margin of victory. She said the win was “because I connected with a lot of folks who depend on services they use,” and cited her endorsements by emergency services such as EMS, police and fire departments. She dismissed the idea that the campaign had anything to do with age—she is 65 and Alvarez is 43. “I don’t think it’s generational,” she told In Fact Daily, “I don’t feel old; age is a number.”


Alvarez began the night in the hole, with early voting returns putting him behind nearly 300 votes. Although he was counting on an Election Day surge of younger voters, he was unable to make up any ground with a more robust turnout. “It was a much bigger turnout, than we thought – 3,000 more votes. We knew there’d be more but we didn’t think it would be that kind of number,” he said. He said the campaign had met all of its goals and they had gone into Election Day stronger than any of his prior runs for office. He lamented, “… there’s some dynamic there that we have not yet identified that had an impact on our race.”


For her part, Gomez said that although Alvarez’s more contemporary message of environmentalism and planned community growth may have resonated with some. “When I come over here, they ask about jobs or their child needs a clinic… sometimes it’s like we’re worlds apart.”


Certainly the campaign party locations may have reflected the two realities of the precinct, with Alvarez holding his at the newly relocated and renovated El Sol y La Luna on downtown 6th Street and Gomez holding court in the legendary, ramshackle political dive Rabbits Lounge further East.


Gomez said that the campaign had opened her eyes up to the desires of some constituents who would like her to play a more vocal role on the Commissioners Court, and she pledged to take that into her new term, while still retaining her inclination to listen first before talking.


Alvarez seemed dismayed discussing the results, and after some “Monday morning quarterbacking” of the results said he will continue his active roles in several non-profit organizations as he sought to improve the future of the Hispanic community in Austin.

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