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Tovo easily wins third term

Wednesday, November 7, 2018 by Jo Clifton

Kathie Tovo will serve her third term on the Austin City Council after winning a relatively easy victory over three opponents on Tuesday, finishing with almost 53 percent of the vote. Her closest challenger, Danielle Skidmore, garnered less than 32 percent of the vote, with two other candidates each winning less than 10 percent of the vote.

Tovo, who serves as mayor pro tem, told the Austin Monitor she was excited about starting her next term in office. “I’m very much looking forward to continuing the work I’ve been doing on homelessness,” an issue that has been a high priority for her over the past four years.

In addition, Tovo said she was looking forward to building housing on the city’s publicly owned land. She also said she was eager to start a conversation with the community about doing a tax swap with the Austin Independent School District. Mayor Steve Adler brought up the idea originally, but gave up after it became obvious that the community needed more time to consider it. Tovo gathered signatures on a petition to allow her to run for a third term.

Skidmore, an engineer who ran as an openly transgender person, said she is still committed to helping Austin solve its traffic problems, including getting better mass transit.

When she spoke with the Austin Monitor, Skidmore was just absorbing the news of her evident loss after early voting results showed Tovo about 7,000 votes ahead of her with a commanding lead. Skidmore noted that it was just eight months to the day since she officially entered the race, and said she had learned to love Austin even more by walking through District 9 neighborhoods and talking to the residents.

“I’ve learned there’s so much common ground that we have in this city. I’m excited about our future – we still have big challenges – how to move people around the city, to make transportation work in the city. We’re going to have to come back and talk about how we grow as a city in ways that are more sustainable,” Skidmore said.

Tovo’s other opponents in the race were Linda O’Neal, a teacher, and Isiah Jones, a student. O’Neal got less than 10 percent of the vote and Jones received about 6 percent.

In 2011, Tovo defeated incumbent Council Member Randi Shade after a hard-fought runoff. In 2014, when the Council switched from at-large to district seats, Tovo ran against her fellow Council member, Chris Riley. Tovo got more than 49 percent of the vote and Riley withdrew rather than forcing the city to hold the runoff.

Tovo said Tuesday night that in her previous two races, she cast her vote on Election Day. This time, she said she voted early, hoping that would change her luck, as apparently it did.

Photo of the Skidmore election party by Jo Clifton.

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