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Election Day is finally here!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 by Jo Clifton

For football fanatics, the Super Bowl is the best day of the year; for political junkies, it’s election day. According to Travis County Clerk Dana De Beauvoir, more than 47 percent of the county’s registered voters cast ballots during the early voting period. So one of the big questions to be answered tonight is, how many of those other registered voters will come out to vote on election day? The clerk’s office has promised to release the results of early voting at 7 p.m. or just a few minutes after. Those results should give everyone a clear indication of how the rest of the evening will go. The races most likely to result in runoffs are in District 1 and District 8, on opposite ends of the city, and maybe in District 9. Council Member Ora Houston is retiring after one term representing that part of East Austin and Council Member Ellen Troxclair is stepping down after one term representing Southwest Austin. Houston endorsed Vincent Harding and the smart money says Harding will be in a runoff. People who have been following that race say the most likely candidates to be in the December 11 runoff appear to be Mariana Salazar and Natasha Harper-Madison. District 8 is much harder to predict, although since Republican Frank Ward entered the race there has been an assumption that he would make it into a runoff. Bobby Levinski and Rich DePalma each have won numerous endorsements, but this year more voters may choose the third Democrat in the race, Paige Ellis, because they want a woman to represent them. In District 3, incumbent Council Member Pio Renteria has run a strong race and could win outright. If not, he could face either his sister, Susana Almanza, or James Valadez in a runoff. District 5 Council Member Ann Kitchen is the only Council member on the ballot who faces no opposition, so the Austin Monitor can predict with great confidence that she will be re-elected. Mayor Steve Adler has run a strong race, garnering both paid and free publicity far outweighing any publicity his chief rival, former Council Member Laura Morrison, has received. The other candidates in the race have gotten no traction, including the lone Republican, Todd Phelps. In District 9, Council Member Kathie Tovo, who serves as mayor pro tem, is facing a strong challenge from engineer Danielle Skidmore. Tovo has strong support from single-family neighborhoods while Skidmore has strong support from pro-density, new urbanist groups. Tovo defeated Council Member Randi Shade in 2011 and Council Member Chris Riley in 2014, but it’s hard to know what mood District 9 is in now. And it’s anyone’s guess how voters will react to Propositions J and K.

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