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Shea easily bests two opponents for Commissioner Pct. 2 seat

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 by Mark Richardson

Former City Council member and environmental leader Brigid Shea swept to victory in the race for the Democratic nomination for Pct. 2 Travis County Commissioner Tuesday with 66 percent of the vote as the clock struck midnight.


She will face Republican Raymond Frank, a former Travis County Sheriff, and Libertarian Steven Haskett in November.


Shea’s Democratic opponents, Richard Jung and Garry Brown, garnered about 20 percent and 14 percent of the vote, respectively.


As supporters gathered around to toast her victory, she said, “I feel like we ran a really great race. I had a fabulous staff, fabulous interns, incredible volunteers, amazing consultants – I mean it was a great combination and really powerful issues.”

Two issues Shea said she wanted to emphasize were affordability and water:


“I’ve been working these issues for a number of years, especially on the issue of affordability, as it’s a particularly powerful one. So many people who live here are struggling under a broken political process that is causing their property appraisals to sky-rocket. It is hurting our community, it’s hurting families, it’s hurting our school enrollment, I tell people this is a ‘hair on fire’ problem.”

On water: “The citizens really understand that we’re running out of water, and we need our leaders to step up and it just hasn’t been a priority for people. I bring 25 years of work in this arena and I’m ready to hit the ground running tomorrow. I don’t have to wait until I’m sworn in to provide leadership in the community on reusing and conserving water.”


Veteran political consultant Peck Young said he was not surprised. “She’s got more resources, she’s got more everything,” it takes to win, he said.


Shea entered the Precinct 2 race with the most name recognition, having served as an Austin City Council member from 1993 to 1996, and run unsuccessfully for Austin mayor in 2012. She is active in the environmental movement and co-owns Carbon Shrinks LLC, an environmental consulting practice. She is also a co-founder of the Save Our Springs Alliance.


Not surprisingly, she campaigned largely but not exclusively on environmental issues, though she also honed in on property tax reform. She outraised her opponents by a considerable margin, bringing in $273,000 by the last reporting deadline. She has been endorsed by State Sen. Kirk Watson, former Ag Commissioner Jim Hightower, the Sierra Club, the Austin Firefighters Association and others. She was also endorsed by the American Statesman and the Austin Chronicle.


Jung is a political newcomer but has experience as both an attorney and business executive in the Austin area. He was CEO of an international semiconductor service company, but now runs a small legal practice in immigration law. 


He campaigned on solving the region’s transportation problems, improving the local education system; and helping the middle class survive the economic downturn. He also wants to try and bring businesses and the environmental community together to develop plans for water conservation.


Jung raised $196,000 for his race, drawing a mix of contributions locally and from around the state and nation.


Brown is a veteran of Democratic politics in Central Texas, having worked for Congressman Lloyd Doggett, former Travis County Commissioner Karen Huber and the Travis County Democratic Party. He currently serves as Public Relations Director for Travis County Constable Sally Hernandez.


He campaigned on increasing productivity at Travis County, creating a county-wide fire service and fostering economic development and job creation in the county. He was endorsed by the Travis County Sheriffs Officers Association, several Democratic groups including the Stonewall Democrats of Austin, Northeast Travis County Democrats and others. He had support from former State Rep Valinda Bolton, former Commissioner Huber and Nelda Wells Spears, the former Travis County Tax Assessor Collector. That was not enough.


Brown raised about $48,000 for the race.


This story was updated to reflect a Libertarian candidate on the November Ballot.

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