Tuesday, October 22, 2019 by Jo Clifton

Blythe starts PAC to unseat City Council

Sharon Blythe, best known around City Hall for her activism related to cemeteries, is hoping to unseat every member of City Council not currently slated to be on the ballot in November 2020.

Blythe filed a document appointing herself treasurer of a specific purpose committee called Our Town Austin, which seeks to recall Mayor Steve Adler and Council members Natasha Harper-Madison, Pio Renteria, Ann Kitchen, Page Ellis and Kathie Tovo.

The document does not explain why she chose these specific Council members, but other members of Council will be on the ballot next fall if they choose to run for reelection. They are Greg Casar, Jimmy Flannigan, Leslie Pool, and Alison Alter, as well as Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza. Garza seems likely to run for Travis County Attorney in the Democratic primary in March. If she wins the primary, obviously she will not run for reelection.

Those behind the new political action committee will have to gather signatures from at least 10 percent of each Council member’s district, and 10 percent of the entire city for Adler. If that happens, the named Council member must either resign within five days of the petition’s validation or City Council can order an election and put the recall to the voters.

The last time there was a recall petition, it was against Kitchen. People working on behalf of transportation networking companies targeted Kitchen after she attempted to regulate them. However, petitioners did not notarize their pages, and it was deemed invalid despite having the required number of signatures. The next time Kitchen ran for office, she had no opponents.

Blythe could still be angry about the fact that she was not appointed to the Parks and Recreation Board when former Council Member Don Zimmerman tried to appoint her in 2015. She ended up withdrawing her name from consideration after Council took the unusual step of postponing a vote on her appointment.

While Blythe has been out of the limelight lately, she did file suit against the city over the wording of Proposition A on the city ballot. She lost that suit, which was filed on behalf of Friends of McKalla Place, a group opposed to the city’s decision to lease the property for a soccer stadium. It is not clear who might be working with Blythe, but it seems unlikely that she is working alone.

The Statesman‘s Philip Jankowski discovered Blythe’s filing and wrote about it on Twitter, but was unable to get a comment from her about her reasoning. Blythe has not responded to a call from the Austin Monitor.

This story has been corrected. We originally reported that the petition against Kitchen did not have enough signatures when, in fact, it was invalid because it was not notarized. Photo by John Flynn.

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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.

Political Action Committees: An organization that raises money privately to influence elections and/or legislation.

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