The results of Austin’s 10-1 City Council election runoffs are in, and a host of new faces will be sitting on the new council.
Newcomer Steve Adler won the mayor’s seat by a huge margin, defeating his opponent and former Councilmember Mike Martinez with 67 percent of the vote.
In District 1, Ora Houston also had a decisive victory, winning 74 percent of the vote over DeWayne Lofton. District 3, a heated race between brother and sister, saw Sabino “Pio” Renteria win over his sister Susana Almanza with 57 percent of the vote. Gregorio Casar won Distric 4 with 65 percent of the vote over Laura Pressley, whose campaign came under scrutiny for claims she made about the September 11 terrorist attacks, fluoridated water, and city smart meters.
Don Zimmerman won District 6 with 52 percent of the vote over Jimmy Flannigan. In District 7 Leslie Pool won 65 percent of the vote to defeat Jeb Boyt. District 8 was a closer race, with Ellen Troxclair winning 52 percent of the vote over Ed Scruggs. And in District 10, Sheri Gallo won 55 percent of the vote over Mandy Dealey.
Adler told the press that he is ready to change the way Council works, saying he wants to set up new working committees in order to get more public engagement.
One of the issues Adler and Martinez debated was Adler’s proposed 20 percent homestead tax exemption. Adler said the break would help homeowners, who shouldn’t be paying a larger share of the property tax burden than commercial property owners. But Martinez said the exemption would benefit wealthier homeowners more than middle class Austin residents, and worried about how the city would make up that lost revenue. Adler has proposed ways to make the exemption affordable, like phasing it in over several years, and using future budget surpluses to help pay for it.
On the council side, the new form of representation will bring new dynamics to City Hall. At least three seats are now occupied by more conservative councilmembers: Ellen Troxclair, Sheri Gallo, and Don Zimmerman. And almost all of the 10 Councilmembers are brand new to City Council, although they bring with them a range of experience from committees to state government.
The other noteworthy trend from this runoff election was voter turnout. While it remained low at 15 percent, that’s significantly higher than past runoff election voter turnout in Austin, which in recent years has ranged from 5 percent to 9 percent.