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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Wednesday, April 4, 2018 by Jo Clifton
DePalma announces run for District 8
Rich DePalma, a consultant who has worked on numerous environmental efforts, officially threw his hat in the ring Tuesday to represent Austinites who live in District 8. Council Member Ellen Troxclair currently holds the seat and has said she is running for re-election in November.
In addition to DePalma and Troxclair, the candidates who have already announced a run to represent Southwest Austin include Shane Sexton, a Concordia University police officer; Save Our Springs Alliance attorney Bobby Levinski; and Paige Ellis, a marketing specialist at aci consulting, an environmental compliance firm.
As things stand right now, it looks like the candidates challenging Troxclair will be trying to win voters, at least in part, based on their commitment to protecting the environment.
When the Austin Monitor asked DePalma whether he and Levinski would split the environmental vote, DePalma said, “I’m running as an environmental candidate. I’m glad we have two environmental candidates.”
While he said nothing negative about the other challengers, when asked why voters should choose him over Levinski, DePalma said, “If somebody’s really interested in an environmental candidate – and I sure hope they are – it probably makes sense for them to pick somebody who’s been active in the environmental community for over a decade.”
DePalma, 45, noted that he co-founded Friends of Dick Nichols Park in 2007, has served on the Austin Parks Foundation board, is the vice president of Austin Environmental Democrats and president of TreeFolks. He is also a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Board. He noted that he convinced St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Southwest Austin to do a solar carport project and helped raise the money to pay for it.
Asked later about who has the stronger environmental record, Levinski said he has been involved with city politics for the past 13 years. Levinski worked for Council members Jennifer Kim and Laura Morrison and also for Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo, which gave him a bird’s-eye view of Council decision-making.
However, Levinski, who will be 32 this month, has only lived in District 8 for about nine months and DePalma has lived there for more than 11 years.
Troxclair is expecting her second child within the next week or so but she has been actively soliciting donations for her re-election bid since last summer.
As the Monitor noted in January, Ellis has also been involved as an activist and volunteer in a variety of local environmental causes, including Keep Austin Beautiful and the Barton Springs Conservancy. Similar to Levinski, her first critique of Troxclair is that “she lacks a passion for the environment.”
Also, Ellis tells the Monitor her full-time job involves marketing and public involvement for an environmental firm that consults on the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and other regulations. So she also can claim to be the environmental candidate.
Ed Scruggs, who lost the race to Troxclair in 2014 by only 57 votes, is one of three co-chairs of DePalma’s campaign. The other two are Darryl Pruett, president of the Oak Hill Association of Neighborhoods, and attorney Carrie Collier-Brown. Tali Wildman is his campaign manager.
Levinski said longtime campaign consultant David Butts and pollster Jeff Smith are assisting him and Dean Rindy will be handling campaign advertising.
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Key Players & Topics In This Article
Austin City Council: The Austin City Council is the body with legislative purview over the City of Austin. It offers policy direction, while the office of the City Manager implements administrative actions based on those policies. Until 2012, the body contained seven members, including the city's Mayor, all elected at-large. In 2012, City of Austin residents voted to change that system and now 10 members of the Council are elected based on geographic districts. The Mayor continues to be elected at-large.
District 8: District 8 contains three distinct neighborhoods, Oak Hill, Circle C and Travis Country. The district is bounded on the east by Brodie Lane, on the south by the Travis-Hays county line, on the north by Bee Cave road and on the west by the winding Austin city limits line. It also has the city’s biggest and most infamous traffic bottleneck – the Oak Hill Y, the convergence of US 290 and SH 71, squeezing traffic heading to and from South MoPac Boulevard and out into the Hill Country.