Thursday, July 16, 2020 by Elizabeth Pagano

City Council candidates file campaign finance reports

Though the results of Tuesday’s election are still being tallied, Wednesday marked the day that campaign finance reports for City Council elections were due.

In addition to casting their votes for president of the United States this year, Austin residents will decide the new Council representatives in districts 2, 4, 6, 7 and 10. Though some candidates took advantage of the ability to fundraise earlier this election cycle, not all began fundraising in November. The fundraising totals in this article represent money raised since January.

District 2 has the distinction of being the one district that does not have an incumbent, as current Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza was elected to be Travis County attorney on Tuesday. Longtime Council staffer David Chincanchan and former American Heart Association strategist Vanessa Fuentes are running to fill the empty seat.

As was true during the last round of fundraising, Chincanchan’s donor list includes several familiar names, among them a number of city employees and Council staffers. In total, he raised $32,754.94.

Chincanchan’s donors include state Rep. Sheryl Cole, Council Member (and former boss) Pio Renteria, composer and Music Commissioner Graham Reynolds, Austin Duck Adventures owner Paul Mahler, and employees of Drenner Group, Armbrust & Brown, Bingham Group, McLean & Howard, Metcalfe Wolff Stuart & Williams, Husch Blackwell, Jackson Walker, Endeavor, Workers Defense Project, BASTA Austin, and Latino HealthCare Forum. Those who contributed to his campaign also include City Hall regulars Tom Walk, Ted Siff, Dave Sullivan and Planning commissioners Conor Kenny and Fayez Kazi.

Fuentes, who raised $26,644, touted her “strong Southeast Austin support” in a press release sent out Wednesday. “I proudly received a donation from every ZIP code in District 2. This outpouring of support from the people I hope to represent on Council is exciting, and I am looking forward to engaging with my community on the issues that matter most,” she wrote.

There are some familiar names on Fuentes’ donor list as well. Those include state Rep. Celia Israel, former Travis County Intergovernmental Relations Coordinator Deece Eckstein, Notley Ventures partner Dan Graham, Avance CEO Teresa Granillo, Attorney Adam Loewy, and local activists Linda Curtis, Debbie Russell and David King.

After briefly considering a run for state Senate and taking a deliberately slow start to fundraising, Council Member Greg Casar is fully back in the race. He has raised $73,418 from 370 donors in an effort to hold on to his District 4 seat.

His list of donors includes a number of elected officials: Mayor Steve Adler, Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza, Council members Pio Renteria and Paige Ellis, former Council Member Chris Riley, Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

In addition, Casar raised money from Austin Pets Alive! Executive Director Ellen Jefferson, Bicycle Sport Shop owner William Abell, Live Nation’s Charles Attal, advocate Ana DeFrates, Progress Texas Executive Director Ed Espinoza, Balcones Resources CEO Kerry Getter, Notley Ventures partner Dan Graham, American Gateways Executive Director Rebecca Lightsey, Casa Marianella Director Jennifer Long, real estate developer Perry Lorenz, Austin FC President Andy Loughnane and executive Anthony Precourt, Asian American Cultural Center CEO Amy Mok, Austin Justice Coalition Executive Director Chas Moore, Trail of Lights Foundation Executive Director Russell James and Public Safety Commissioner Chris Harris.

Like other candidates, Casar recieved money from employees of Endeavor, Armbrust & Brown, Stratus Properties, Drenner Group and Momark Development. Casar also counts Planning commissioners Greg Anderson and Fayez Kazi as well as Ted Siff and Dave Sullivan among his donors.

Though Manuel Muñoz declared his intention to run for City Council against Casar, his report filed July 15 listed no political contributions, loans or expenditures.

In District 6, Council Member Jimmy Flannigan has raised $68,154.99 since January. In a press release sent Wednesday, Flannigan said he was “encouraged” by the support from his constituents and “residents all across the city,” noting that the district in which he raised the most funds was his own.

Flannigan can count among his donors Texas state Rep. John Bucy, Austin LGBT Chamber Executive Director Tina Cannon, former City Council members Chris Riley and Betty Dunkerley, Council members Paige Ellis, Natasha Harper-Madison and Ann Kitchen, Progress Texas Executive Director Ed Espinoza, Glimmer Foundation founder Donna Berber, Austin Hotel & Lodging Association Presidents Denise Eisman and Scott Joslove, Notley Ventures partner Dan Graham, Asian American Cultural Center CEO Amy Mok, and Planning commissioners Greg Anderson, Fayez Kazi and Conor Kenny. He also received donations from advocates Debbie Russell and Ted Siff and employees of the Drenner Group, Endeavor, Armbrust & Brown, Momark Development and Reagan Outdoor Advertising.

Flannigan’s opponent, Mackenzie Kelly, who originally ran for City Council in 2014 and managed to attract national press for her unique “pro-Gamergate” stance, reported raising $19,056.56. Among her financial supporters are pro-cemetery anti-City Council activist Sharon Blythe, former county auditor Susan Spataro, Capital Factory founder Joel Trammell and former District 6 City Council Member Don Zimmerman.

District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool, who was running unopposed until recently, reported raising $6,725 for her reelection. Among her contributors were former Council Member Betty Dunkerley and representatives from land use groups like Drenner Group, Land Use Solutions, Husch Blackwell, Metcalfe Wolff Stuart & Williams, and Armbrust & Brown as well as neighborhood advocates like Joyce Basciano, Barbara McArthur, Megan Meisenbach and Sara Speights.

Morgan Witt, who is running against Pool as of July 1 as a “pragmatic progressive fighting for an equitable, affordable and mobile Austin,” has not yet posted a campaign finance report.

And in District 10, incumbent Alison Alter reported she has raised $83,588.45. A look through her donations finds a number of UT Austin professors as well as donations from the Sheryl Cole Campaign, former City Council Member Betty Dunkerley, AISD trustees Amber Elenz and Ann Teich, Travis County Commissioner Margaret Gómez, Judge Nancy Hohengarten, Fermata President Ted Eubanks, Austin Pets Alive! Director Ellen Jefferson, Grayline Group President Joseph Kopser, Capital Factory CEO Joshua Baer, Austin NAACP head Nelson Linder, Save Our Springs Managing Director Pat Brodnax, former Board of Adjustment Chair William Burkhardt, Hill Country Conservancy’s George Cofer and a smattering of land use agencies. Among the many donors to Alter’s campaign were neighborhood advocates like Chris Allen, Joyce Basciano, Betsy Greenberg, Barbara McArthur, and Malcolm Yeatts as well as City Hall regulars like Linda Guerrero, Bryan King, Fred Lewis, Karen McGraw and Craig Nazor.

Alter’s opponent, Pooja Sethi, posted a January finance report, but a July 15 report was not available on the city website at press time.

All of the finance reports can be found at the website of the Office of the City Clerk. The next fundraising deadline for the Nov. 3 election is Sept. 24. Did we miss something interesting? Let us know at editor@austinmonitor.com.

Disclosure: Dan Graham is on the board of the Capital of Texas Media Foundation, the parent nonprofit of the Austin Monitor.

Photo made available through a Creative Commons license.

The Austin Monitor’s work is made possible by donations from the community. Though our reporting covers donors from time to time, we are careful to keep business and editorial efforts separate while maintaining transparency. A complete list of donors is available here, and our code of ethics is explained here.

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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.

November 2020 elections

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