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March 28, 2005

My thoughts on the Austin City Council Races

By Byron LaMasters

I wanted to follow-up on Karl-Thomas's post the other day on the Austin city council races. In preparation for the University Democrats and Central Austin Democrats (Austin Progressive Coalition) endorsement meeting on Saturday, I wanted to post some brief thoughts on the races.

Place 1: Lee Leffingwell is the frontrunner for Daryl Slusher's open seat. He's a decent Democrat, and I'm sure will make a fine councilman. However, I'm inclined to support my friend, Andrew Bucknall. Andrew was the re-founding president of the Huston-Tullitson University Democrats, and I've worked with him to integrate his chapter into the Texas Young Democrats.

Andrew calls himself the "grassroots progressive choice for place 1", and is a Democratic precinct chair in east Austin. I think that it is important to stand up and support fellow young Democrats when they run for office, so I plan on voting for Andrew at the UD/CAD/APC endorsement meeting on Saturday. You can read more about him here.

Place 3: Only in Austin would this race be possible. Here we have four more-or-less progressive Democrats fighting for a single city council seat being vacated by Jackie Goodman. On many levels, the four candidates are indistinguishable from one another. Margot Clarke and Mandy Dealey clearly have the longest record of Democratic and progressive activism. Clarke's work has been on the grassroots side of things, whereas Dealey's work has been more related to fundraising and serving on numerous boards. They've both contributed valuable work that certainly qualifies them for the council.

Jennifer Kim and Gregg Knaupe round out the field. Kim is an impressive first time candidate, and is very well-spoken, but she lacks the experience of Clarke or Dealey. Knaupe is running an impressive campaign as well with endorsements by the Central Labor Council and law enforcement organizations, but Knaupe is hindered by the fact that a victory by him would leave only one woman (assuming Betty Dunkerly is re-elected) on the seven member city council. That is an issue that weighs in the minds of many voters.

Unlike Karl-Thomas and Andrew, I have no preference order. Sometimes, I think that I should just flip a four-sided die before I cast my vote - it's that silly. Seriously, flip a coin or something. This race is hard to gauge. I agree with Karl-Thomas that Clarke is probably the frontrunner at this point. However, I could see any of the three other candidates making a runoff with her. Eventually, I'll probably make my decision of who to vote for when I enter the voting booth.

Place 4: This race is the easiest for me. Betty Dunkerly is one of these public officials committed to good government above all else - the type that are in politics for all of the right reasons. She's an Independent, and in most circumstances I would be looking for a progressive Democrat to run for the seat.

However, Dunkerly entered politics during the economic downturn, because she believed that her background in public finance and as assistant city manager of Austin put her in position to help the city through the economic downturn. She's always been very accessable and has the best interests of Austin at heart. We need more people like her in politics. I wholeheartedly endorse Betty Dunkerly for re-election.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at March 28, 2005 09:41 PM | TrackBack


It would be nice to have some real ethnic diversity on the council. Go Kim.

Posted by: Jason at March 30, 2005 09:02 PM
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