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Tuesday, October 2, 2018 by Jo Clifton

Adler, Tovo top list of endorsed candidates

Since the race began, it has looked like Mayor Steve Adler would have an easier path to victory than his major opponent, former Council Member Laura Morrison. His incumbency and better name ID are factors, and another is his personal wealth. But if Morrison could ignite anger among Democrats and take more club endorsements, that would make a difference.

With most clubs having made their endorsement selections, her path will not be through those organizations. Only the Austin Neighborhoods Council has endorsed Morrison alone. Two groups have endorsed both Adler and Morrison – the North by Northwest Democrats and Stonewall Democrats of Austin.

The following groups have endorsed only Adler in the mayor’s race: the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1624, the Central Labor Council, Laborers’ International Union of North America, Workers Defense Action Fund, Austin Firefighters Association’s PAC, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services Employee Association’s PAC, AURA, the Austin Board of Realtors, Austin Young Democrats, and Capital Area Progressive Democrats, as well as the Central Austin Democrats and University Democrats, which together form the Austin Progressive Coalition.

The teachers’ union, Education Austin, has also endorsed Adler, as have the Liberal Austin Democrats, the Texas Alliance of Retired Americans, Friends of Hyde Park and Dove Springs Proud as well as the Asian American Political Action Committee.

Other candidates in this race have gotten no club endorsements to the best of our knowledge. They include Travis Duncan, a former employee of Tesla; military veteran and former city bailiff Gus Peña; former mayoral candidate Todd Phelps; Alan Pease, a member of the city’s Aquatics Advisory Board; and pedicab driver Alexander Strenger.

The race in District 3 again features Pio Renteria, who was elected in 2014, and his sister Susana Almanza, executive director of PODER. Other candidates include James Valadez, a real estate agent who is also Renteria’s appointee to the Board of Adjustment; Jessica Cohen, a former emergency medical technician who now works as a network security administrator; Justin Jacobson, a restaurant worker; and Amit Motwani, a chief information officer for United Way for Greater Austin who was endorsed by the Texas Alliance of Retired Americans.

Renteria is well liked by the business community and has garnered the most endorsements in the race, but Valadez surprised observers this summer by raising virtually the same amount of money as Renteria did, in a much shorter period of time.

Renteria has received endorsements from the Austin Young Democrats, Liberal Austin Democrats, Austin Environmental Democrats (with Almanza), South Austin Democrats, Austin Tejano Democrats, the Central Austin Democrats and University Democrats, Austin Firefighters Association PAC, Capital Area Progressive Democrats, Workers Defense Project, the Asian American Political Action Committee, the Austin Progressive Coalition, Central Labor Council, which includes AFSCME and Education Austin, AURA, and the Greater Austin Home Builders Association’s PAC, HomePAC.

Almanza won the endorsement of the Austin Neighborhoods Council and as noted above, she and Renteria shared the endorsement of the Austin Environmental Democrats.

In District 9, voters and endorsing organizations can choose between Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo, engineer Danielle Skidmore, student Isiah Jones and teacher Linda O’Neal.

Tovo has won endorsements from each of the labor organizations that have endorsed so far, including AFSCME, the Central Labor Council, LiUNA, the Workers Defense Action Fund, UNITE HERE, Austin Firefighters Association PAC, and the Austin-Travis County EMS Employees PAC.

Also, the Austin Neighborhoods Council, Asian American Political Action Committee, Austin Environmental Democrats, Capital Area Progressive Democrats, Clean Water Action, Central Austin Democrats, South Austin Democrats, Tejano Democrats, North by Northwest Democrats and the Texas Alliance of Retired Americans have endorsed Tovo.

The Austin Young Democrats, University Democrats, HomePAC, ABoR and the pro-density group AURA have endorsed Skidmore. Texas Equity PAC, Equality Texas, and the Victory Fund have also endorsed Skidmore. Equality Texas is a political advocacy organization that seeks to elect pro-equality public officials and advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. The Friends of Hyde Park, a neighborhood group in District 9, has also endorsed Skidmore.

The other candidates have not received club endorsements that we are aware of.

Peck Young, longtime political consultant and director of the Center for Public Policy and Political Studies at Austin Community College, said the important thing about the club endorsements is not so much how many there are but “just how active they can be in terms of getting out their message.”

Photo by John Flynn. This story has been updated to include additional endorsements for Skidmore and Renteria.

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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.

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