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Travis County’s Precinct 1 runoff goes to Travillion

Wednesday, May 25, 2016 by Caleb Pritchard

Jeff Travillion won the Democratic nomination for Travis County Commissioners Court Precinct 1 on Tuesday night, handily beating Arthur Sampson in the low-turnout matchup.

Only 9,584 voters — or 1.4 percent of the county’s registered population — participated in the Democratic runoff, significantly less than the 145,195 who cast their ballots in the original March 1 primary. In the race for the party’s nomination to represent the county’s northeastern quadrant on the court, just 3,891 voters made the effort. That’s less than the total population of Manor, which, along with a big chunk of East Austin and Pflugerville, resides within Precinct 1’s sprawling boundaries.

Regardless of the abysmal turnout, Travillion won the support of 67 percent of those civic diehards, versus 33 percent who went for Sampson.

“The most important thing is that we had a number of good candidates in this race, and I’m honored the community seems to be selecting me,” Travillion told the Austin Monitor as the first returns rolled in on Tuesday evening. “I don’t take that task lightly, and I’ll be working as hard as I can to be a good representative for Precinct 1 and Travis County as a whole.”

When reached for his reaction, the upbeat Sampson told the Monitor, “I’m disappointed, but the voters have voted and that’s who they wanted, so we’ll go with that.”

During the initial round of the primary, Travillion earned 42 percent of the vote, and though Sampson won just 18.5 percent, it was enough to spark this runoff for the seat and whittle down five candidates to just the two.

Though Sampson is a seasoned Precinct 1 candidate and ran against incumbent Ron Davis in 2012, Travillion has scored the lion’s share of endorsements and was the clear favorite leading into the runoff.

Among his other accomplishments, Pflugerviller Travillion formerly served as president of the Austin NAACP and Black Austin Democrats and is the current vice president of the AFSCME Local 1624 branch. He works as a division manager in the city’s Code Department.

Sampson, who is a veteran, worked as a police officer for 12 years and identifies as a small-business owner. He has also worked for the city as a “project coordinator, inspector, plan reviewer and estimator.” On his website, he emphasizes the lessons in oversight, conflict resolution and dedication that he learned in those capacities.

Though the runoff was technically only a primary, in the heavily Democratic Precinct 1, ultimate victory for Travillion is all but guaranteed. Democratic incumbent Ron Davis, who did not run for re-election, has held his seat since 1998.

In November, Travillion will face off against Republican Pat McCord, whose sparse website thus far reveals only that he is a “Republican, Conservative, Veteran” in addition to being a photographer.

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