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Twenty candidates set to run for Council

Tuesday, August 18, 2020 by Jo Clifton

While most Austinites were focused on Covid-19, whether or not to send their children to school and how to pay the rent, a surprising number of people – 20 to be exact – signed up to have their names on the November ballot for a seat on City Council. The filing deadline was 5 p.m. Monday. City Clerk Jannette Goodall will conduct a drawing at 2 p.m. today to determine the ballot order in each race. The drawing will be broadcast live on ATXN (Channel 6) and on the city’s Facebook page.

Some of these candidates have been campaigning for months. David Chincanchan and Vanessa Fuentes, who are vying for the chance to represent District 2 when Delia Garza takes on her new role as Travis County attorney in January, have been working hard, although their campaigns have been muted by the pandemic. But there are two new contenders in that race, Casey Ramos and Alexander Strenger. Ramos, a boxer, ran unsuccessfully against Garza in 2016, and Strenger, who lists his occupation as pedicab driver, ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2018. Chincanchan and Fuentes each have strong support, while it is hard to see how Ramos and Strenger can attract much attention.

In District 4, Council Member Greg Casar has two opponents as of Monday’s filing deadline: Louis C. Herrin III and Ramesses II Setepenre. Herrin, who ran against Casar in 2014 and 2016, is a civil engineer. Setepenre lists his occupation as licensed massage therapist. Although he has detractors, Casar has a notable record, which his opponents lack, and he has emerged as the winner, not only at the ballot box but also in court.

District 6 Council Member Jimmy Flannigan filed for reelection on Monday and his campaign put out a press release noting that he has endorsements from seven of his Council colleagues including Mayor Steve Adler and Council members Natasha Harper-Madison, Pio Renteria, Casar, Paige Ellis and Ann Kitchen. He also has endorsements from numerous other elected officials in the community. Flannigan’s opponents include Mackenzie Kelly, who ran for Council in 2014, and two newcomers, Dee Harrison and Dr. Jennifer Mushtaler.

Council Member Leslie Pool, who has faced little serious opposition since she first won her seat in 2014, has one opponent, Morgan Witt. Witt lists her occupation as education consultant and her website says she enjoys “competitive axe throwing,” among other things.

But the big crowd is over in the District 10 race, where incumbent Council Member Alison Alter is facing six opponents. Some are apparently new to running for office, like real estate brokers Jennifer Virden and Belinda Greene and business owner Noel Tristan, while others have run for the seat in the past, like Robert D. Thomas, an attorney who ran for the District 10 seat in 2014. Candidate Ben Easton is a writer who says he has lived in Austin for more than 17 years and filed his application to be on the ballot on July 29. Aside from Alter, the only one of the group who has been actively campaigning is attorney Pooja Sethi.

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