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June 11, 2005

Better Late Than Never: Margot Clarke and the Toll Road Lobby

By Andrew Dobbs

So I meant to get this up before now, seeing as there are only 20 minutes are so left before the polls close. One way or the other, I think it is important that the people of Austin are aware of what's going on in this race.

Margot Clarke has been running a race that is focused largely on her refusal to take "toll lobby money." At one forum she even expressed an openness to the Austin Toll Party's attempts to recall Mayor Will Wynn, Councilman Brewster McCracken and Councilman Danny Thomas. She has flouted her endorsement by the largely Republican and right-wing Austin Toll Party and tried to make herself out to be the sole opponent to toll road expansion in Austin (though all four original candidates and both of the runoff candidates are equally opposed to toll roads).

Her proud claim to accept no toll road lobby money would be all well and good were it actually true. The Austin American-Statesman is reporting that Clarke has admitted to taking at least $1100 in toll road money and has been forced to give the money back. Furthermore Clarke has claimed that Mandy Dealey endorsed her after the first round, a complete fabrication. Her endorsement lists have contained people who did not ask to counted as her supporters, and at least some who were actually known supporters of other candidates in the race.

The fact of the matter is that Margot Clarke has run something of a dishonest campaign. I like her positions on environmental issues, but her lack of candor and her history of instability threatens the ability of the City Council to function. I didn't support her in the first round, and I'm not supporting her this time.

Its not too late to vote, find your polling place and hurry!

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at June 11, 2005 06:35 PM | TrackBack


Kim's up 7-8 points in early voting, obviously some people heard.

Posted by: matt h at June 11, 2005 07:13 PM

Republicans always turn out higher in early voting. And Kim clearly was the darling of the hard core right-wingers in the runoff.

Posted by: Jobu at June 11, 2005 08:05 PM

Good theory. But the precinct reports and total votes don't hold up. I just think Kim is the better, smarter candidate.

Posted by: matt h at June 11, 2005 08:53 PM

Margot Clarke is even way to liberal for Austin, and that is saying alot! Clarke can give it up, she will never get elected even in liberal Austin. In being so desperate to win this race, she was just not very honest or ethical in the run-off. She said and did what ever she thought some one wanted to hear to try and get a vote. I just observed this from 3.5 hours away in Fort Worth reading the Statesman's articles and editorials.

Posted by: John DeLorme at June 11, 2005 09:25 PM

Kim won, thank goodness. The problem with Clarke was that she didn't just want no toll roads, she basically wanted no roads, period.
(Or as few as possible.)

Reminds me of the enviro-kooks running Austin 20 years ago when we refused federal money to improve the road system. We're still paying the price for that decision today.

Posted by: WG at June 11, 2005 10:06 PM

For a round-up...Democrat Randy Daniels won election as Mayor of Athens 1009-600 votes for the Republican woman. Herb Gears new mayor of Irving 55-45 percent over former Mayor Marvin Randal. Former Police Chief in Irving now on city council 51-49 Lowell Cannaday over David Cole. John Mahalik former baseball player now on city council in Carrollton with 70 percent.

Who knows about the Longview run-off...Jay Dean won by a little over 500 votes for Mayor. His signs were blue and white and Country singer Neil McCoy supported so is he a Democrat? His web sight seemed like he was by the positions on the issues. We need to confirm that with folks in Gregg County.

Posted by: John DeLorme at June 11, 2005 10:36 PM

Give us a break, Andrew. Why spend so much time using your blog to beat up on a candidate who was doomed to lose anyway? The nebulous innuendo about Clarke's "history of instability" is clearly aimed at perpetuating the "Crazy Margot" mythology (throwing a chair, etc, etc).

This might be all well and good, were it actually true. No evidence has surfaced to suggest that it is.

And speaking of honesty, you provide a fairly dishonest (or at least one-sided) summary of what the statesman article actually said. You might just want to provide the link next time.

Posted by: Virginia Kinney at June 12, 2005 06:00 PM


The myth about Austin refusing to build roads ought to be dead by now. Check out my blog or Jeb Boyt's "Monkey-Brained Musings" - in fact, Austin built ahead of population during the 1980s and 1990s; it's the cancerous sprawling development that both Clarke AND Kim dislike that is responsible for our traffic woes, NOT a supposed refusal to build roads.

Posted by: M1EK at June 13, 2005 09:43 AM

I think that the big lull in development actually occurred in the 1970s, when we rejected federal funding. That put us in a big enough hole that the boom in the 1980s and 1990s was still not enough.

But that being said, whether or not we built roads in the past is irrelevant-- Margot Clarke seems to have a deep commitment to not build roads NOW. I'd love to have a city where everyone rode public transportation or walked or biked everywhere, and we should promote development that encourages those sorts of transportation. But roads are here to stay, and we need to ensure that they are financed appropriately. Tolls are very effective fund raisers and also encourage transportation accomodation-- there enters an economic incentive to drive less which promotes living closer to work, working closer to home or carpooling. Toll roads are actually the secret to developing exactly what Margot Clarke wants.

The secret to Austin's success is that the central city is still an attractive place to live. When cities become unlivable in the central city, we see a polarization where the poor (and also socially unacceptable-- i.e. criminals) live in the inner city and everyone else moves out as fast as they can. This polarization is deadly for a city, as a quick look at Dallas would demonstrate. The presence of the Capitol complex, Travis County Courthouse and the University-- which employ and involve a significant number of Austinites-- make Central Austin a convenient place to live. The continued investment in the community and low crime make it an attractive place to live. If Austin is to remain a great city, we need to continue doing what we do-- promoting local business, keeping our neighborhoods up to code and having a world-class police force.

Posted by: Andrew Dobbs at June 13, 2005 10:41 AM

"I think that the big lull in development actually occurred in the 1970s, when we rejected federal funding. That put us in a big enough hole that the boom in the 1980s and 1990s was still not enough."

Nope, sorry. There was no real lull in road-building in this area; it's always been well ahead of population growth. In fact, at one point we were building roads faster than any other medium-sized city in the country.


(in addition to what I wrote there, note that Mopac and I-35 were being built, extended and expanded during the 1960s and 1970s - there was no lull in road-building around here).

I agree with you completely about toll roads being better than free roads, and voted for Jennifer Kim, in my case because I hate the stranglehold center-city neighborhoods attempt to assert over urban development like the Villas on Guadalupe and 6th/Lamar. But I can't sit by and let this right-wing baloney about road-building get spread beyond the caves from which it emanated (not accusing you of being one of them; but just of spreading it without understanding that it's completely false).

Posted by: M1EK at June 13, 2005 11:17 AM

My long comment just got ate. My short comment is that there was no lull in road-building here (1960s and 1970s saw the construction, extension, and expansion of big chunks of Mopac and I-35). Don't allow the right-wingers to win by promulgating this incorrect information.


I voted for Kim and agree with you on toll roads.

Posted by: M1EK at June 13, 2005 11:19 AM
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