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Council candidates start getting ready for November

Thursday, April 14, 2022 by Jo Clifton

Although campaign season has not really begun, candidates have filed paperwork to run for every City Council seat officially up for election in November, as well as those not scheduled to be on the ballot.

Mayor Steve Adler will have served for eight years when his term expires at the end of December and he does not plan to run again. But at least four candidates have already filed the necessary paperwork to start collecting funds for the race for mayor, a two-year post this time around. They include former Sen. Kirk Watson, Rep. Celia Israel, Council Member Kathie Tovo and Jennifer Virden, the Republican who lost in a runoff to Council Member Alison Alter in 2020. Tovo has not made an official announcement, but filed an appointment of campaign treasurer in February indicating a mayoral run. Though Council Member Mackenzie Kelly promoted cosmetics entrepreneur Gary Spellman as a mayoral candidate on Twitter, there’s been no official filing from him.

In District 1, Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison has announced for reelection. She will likely have an opponent or two, but so far no one else has filed a treasurer designation.

In District 3, Council Member Pio Renteria is serving his second term, and numerous candidates are expected to join the race to compete for the vacant East Austin seat. Those candidates include José Velásquez, who has the backing of a number of established politicians, including Renteria, County Judge Andy Brown and County Attorney Delia Garza. He also has a long list of small-business owners supporting his candidacy.

The other candidates for the seat include Bertha Rendon Delgado, Daniela Silva and José Noé Elias. Susana Almanza ran against her brother, Pio Renteria, for the District 3 seat twice. This time she is serving as campaign treasurer for Elias. Silva’s campaign treasurer is Roy Woody, who is married to Travis County Precinct 4 commissioner candidate Susanna Ledesma-Woody, who narrowly lost to longtime Commissioner Margaret Gómez.

In District 5, Council Member Ann Kitchen has shown no interest in gathering the necessary signatures to put her name on the ballot this year. Several candidates have indicated their interest in the seat, including Stephanie Bazan, who has a Facebook page promoting her candidacy.

Also filing the required paperwork for a District 5 race are businessman Bill Welch and attorney and filmmaker Aaron Webman. Ken Craig, an aide to Kitchen, did not return a call to the Austin Monitor, but has indicated to others in the district that he is interested in running for the seat. Tina Cannon, who has considered running for the seat, said she is 90 percent sure she is not going to make the race.

Also running for District 5 is attorney Ryan Alter, who describes himself as “a lifelong Austin-area resident.” Alter currently works for Texas State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa and has previously worked for Senators Kirk Watson and Sylvia Garcia.

In District 8, Council Member Paige Ellis is running for reelection and has been campaigning. So far, only one candidate has indicated an interest in running against her. Richard Smith, who serves on the city’s Board of Adjustment, will likely campaign as the conservative alternative to Ellis. KVUE quoted him as criticizing police response times as well as property taxes and traffic congestion when he announced for the seat.

As noted above, District 9 Council Member Tovo has served in her current position for the past seven years and on the previous Council. She apparently is still planning to run for mayor, leaving the seat open for numerous candidates who want to represent downtown. These include bike and transit advocate Tom Wald, Joah Spearman, Zohaib Qadri  and Ben Leffler.

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. This story has been updated to include Ryan Alter as a candidate.

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