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City Council Democratic endorsements continue to roll in

Thursday, September 18, 2014 by Jo Clifton

In a Wednesday busy with political activity, both the Austin Environmental Democrats and the Central Austin Democrats weighed in with endorsements for this year’s City Council race.

In their final round of endorsements for the Austin City Council, Austin Environmental Democrats endorsed Ann Kitchen for the District 5 seat and Ed Scruggs in the District 8 race. Matt Stillwell, one of two Democrats running in District 6, came very close to winning the required 60 percent of the vote, but fell short by one vote. In the District 6 race, AED co-endorsed candidates Matt Stillwell and Jimmy Flannigan.

As always, members wanted to know how candidates stand on SH45 SW. Namely, whether it is inevitable and what the candidate might do, if elected, to stop it. District 8 is the one that will be most directly affected by construction of that contentious roadway.

Both of the Republican candidates in the race, Becky Bray and Ellen Troxclair have indicated their support for the road.

Scruggs promised, “I will do everything in my power to stop that road as I have fought it for so many years. It’s personal to me because it connects a mile from my house. The underpass is less than a mile from my house, two blocks from where I drop my kids off for school.” He concluded by saying he would advocate against the road “in any possible way.”

Even though some people think all of Southwest Austin is in favor of the road, Scruggs said, “We now have plenty of opposition to that road because people understand how it’s going to affect them personally.”

One of his opponents, Eliza May said, “I oppose the road. I’m on record as being opposed to the road. In my house parties and when I go door-to-door knocking, that’s one of the issues that I talk about.

She added, “If the road gets built, we are essentially creating a loop around our city. If the road gets built, it will do absolutely nothing to help Brodie … Only 18 percent of the traffic on Brodie is actually coming from Hays County. Now once we build the loop, here’s what’s going to happen: people are not going to want to pay that toll fee, so they’re going to start taking Brodie.”

On the other hand, Darrell Pierce told the crowd he was most concerned that there was no comprehensive transportation plan for Southwest Austin. He advocated getting such a plan and then talking about environmental concerns.

However, he added, “Historically, I haven’t been an activist for or against 45.”

That was clearly not a winning position before a group that asks every candidate about how they might stop that highway. Pierce received only five votes out of a total of 43 cast in the District 8 race.

Both Place 5 candidates, Kitchen and her opponent, Dan Buda, said they were strongly opposed to the highway. In some ways, they seemed very similar. Kitchen talked about her experience as a state representative and Buda talked about how he helped Sen. Wendy Davis work on environmental issues when he served as her policy aide. Kitchen stressed her experience and length of time living in the district. There are four other candidates in the race, three of them Democrats and one Republican.

Kitchen warned the group about an opponent who wasn’t present at the meeting. She did not name him but she was referring to Mike Rodriguez, whom she said was in favor of SH45 SW and would not mind putting the road across the aquifer.

At a separate meeting across town on Wednesday, the Central Austin Democrats endorsed Steve Adler for Mayor; Ora Houston in District 1; Delia Garza in District 2; Sabino ‘Pio’ Renteria in District 3; Gregorio Casar in District 4; Ann Kitchen in District 5; and Jimmy Flannigan in District 6.

Glen Coleman, CAD president, said the group could not decide between Jeb Boyt and Leslie Pool in District 7 and the same was true in the District 9 race between Kathie Tovo and Chris Riley.

The group endorsed Ed Scruggs in District 8 and Mandy Dealey in District 10. Coleman noted that CAD had endorsed Proposition 1, the rail and road bonds, at a previous meeting and that both Austin Community College bonds were approved overwhelmingly.

This story has been changed to reflect information obtained after it’s publication. While AED initially said they did not endorse any candidate in the District 6 race, a review of their bylaws revealed that in a race with more than two candidates, any candidate with more than 40 percent (not 60 percent) of the vote would win an endorsement.

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