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Casar campaign kicks off election season

Tuesday, May 10, 2016 by Elizabeth Pagano

District 4 City Council Member Greg Casar launched his campaign for re-election early Monday morning on the steps of City Hall. In doing so, Casar also unofficially kicked off the campaign season for the upcoming November election, where five Council seats will be up for grabs.

As the freshman class of single-member district representatives, the current 10 members of Council were elected en masse in November 2014, in a crowded field of nearly 80 candidates. Soon after, as insurance against recurrence of that particular chaos, the newly elected Council members drew marbles to determine whether they would serve two- or four-year terms. Those who drew the shorter terms will have the option of serving three terms, and those who hope to serve a second have begun marshaling their resources to launch their campaigns.

Currently, Council candidates are limited to a six-month window for fundraising, though Council Member Don Zimmerman is currently challenging that law in court.

In addition to Casar, District 2 Council Member Delia Garza, District 6’s Zimmerman, District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool and District 10 Council Member Sheri Gallo are all serving two-year terms.

At his official announcement, Casar was flanked by representatives from the Austin Firefighters Association, the Austin-Travis County EMS Association, Workers Defense Action Fund, the Laborers Union Local 753, and members of the Windsor Park and St. John’s neighborhood associations, many of whom spoke in glowing terms about Casar’s first year in office.

Casar focused his comments on the future of Austin, not the past, at the risk of running afoul of Austin’s ethos. Instead, he touted increased wages for city workers, improvements to traffic safety in District 4, increased social services spending, advances in affordable housing, and body cameras and new policing models as accomplishments.

“I come to work every day with the feeling of possibility and opportunity. … Even in our local politics, so much of our discussion is driven by fear, by dread, and oftentimes by a sense of loss. And I understand that,” said Casar.

“But we can’t be the Austin of yesterday, and many people I know aren’t satisfied with the Austin of today. … But I have to come to this building every day believing the Austin of the future can be better than the Austin of our past.”

Zimmerman told the Austin Monitor that he has been a candidate for “more than a year,” though he has not yet set a formal date for his campaign launch. He also has an opponent — Jimmy Flannigan, who narrowly lost the District 6 seat in 2014, is scheduled to officially announce his candidacy today (though he has already produced several campaign advertisements).

Representatives for Pool confirmed that she would “of course” be running for office again, though she has yet to schedule an official launch. Likewise, Gallo has sent out a campaign announcement, though she has no plans for a press conference declaring her candidacy at this time.

At the time of publication, Garza had not responded to our request for comment.

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