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Huber, facing familiar competition, opens re-election bid for Pct. 3 seat

Thursday, December 1, 2011 by Michael Kanin

A day after one of her challengers began an effort to unseat her, Travis County Pct. 3 Commissioner Karen Huber took her turn at rallying the troops. About 100 of her supporters – including a number of local political luminaries – gathered at Scholz Garten Wednesday for the event.


There, in a bit of early campaign theater, Huber, a Democrat, pulled out a newspaper ad her campaign placed during her 2008 run. She went through the list of four promises contained therein—that she would be proactive, that she would expand the county’s ordinance-making tools, that she would work collaboratively, and that she would look to find regional solutions–and told the crowd that, in her estimation, she’d managed to stick to each of them.


Huber has yet to select a campaign manager for her 2012 effort. Whoever fills that role will have something of challenge ahead of them: As Huber put it, “this race, I fear, will be an expensive one.”


Huber’s district is the most politically mixed of the four geographically-elected seats on the Commissioners Court. As such, it represents the best shot for a Republican candidate looking to serve in Travis County.


Huber was introduced by political veteran Joe Pinnelli, who was last seen serving as then-candidate, now Council Member Kathie Tovo’s campaign treasurer. Pinnelli offered the room a contrast between what he saw as Precinct 3 politics before Huber, and with the current commissioner at the helm. “With the election of Karen, we find a multi-dimensional commissioner who understands that problems are more regional in nature and cannot be resolved with quick fixes.”


Though he said that he was instructed not to name names, it seemed as though Pinnelli was referring to the tenure of Huber’s predecessor Gerald Daugherty. Daugherty, who served on the court for six years, is seeking the Republican nomination to unseat Huber. Also vying for the GOP nomination is Jim Strickland.


Huber, a Democrat, drew many familiar political faces to her event. These included current Pct. 5 Constable Bruce Elfant, Austin City Council Member Laura Morrison, state representatives Donna Howard and Elliott Naishtat, and Volente Mayor Justine Blackmore-Hlista. Other recognizable figures included attorneys David Armbrust and Rick Cofer. Political consultants David Butts and former Rep. Glen Maxey were also present as were environmentalists Bill Bunch and Roy Waley.


In what appears to be a preview of a campaign theme, Huber started by talking about water. “We are seriously in need of good water policy,” she said.


Huber’s first term found the commissioner working on several water issues. The most recent of these is an effort to revamp Travis County’s groundwater policy, which was presaged by a moratorium on development that relies on groundwater from the Trinity Aquifer. Huber hopes to have the final version of the regulations ready by the end of January.


Huber also touched on a need for collaboration and summed up her presence in the race with two points. “I’m running…to continue what I’ve done (in) improving the quality of life and maintaining a viable economic future,” she said. “And…to keep what I have done, and what we need done from being undone.”


Many of those in the crowd for Huber did double or triple duty on Wednesday, also attending events for Precinct 1 Commissioner Ron Davis and Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole. Although Davis is rumored to have an opponent, Richard Franklin, Davis has already put together a hefty war chest for his re-election bid. And unlike Huber, Davis does not have a former commissioner trying to unseat him to get his old job back.

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