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Texas BlogWire

Austin City Council Races Already Heating Up

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 05:22 PM CDT


While in Austin on vacation last week, one of the best things was getting to see the local political action up close and personal again. And unsurprisingly (for Austin) it's alive and well way in advance of the traditional election season. Of course, it's why I love Texas politics and politics in general- candidates, campaigns, and consultants are always on the move. In particular, it's also the fact that former foes can be friends and vice versa. Take for instance next year's Austin City Council elections...

Political consultant Elliott McFadden is going to run the re-election campaign of Austin City Council Member Jennifer Kim.

The pairing is somewhat surprising, given that McFadden ran the campaign of Kim's opponent, Margot Clarke, in 2005. But both Kim and McFadden said today that any ill will from the 2005 campaign is water under the bridge. They're gearing up for a potentially tough fight this year against Internet entrepreneur Randi Shade, a former executive director of the Texas Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service under Gov. Ann Richards.

Meanwhile, Kim's 2005 campaign manager, Amy Everhart, is endorsing Shade this time around, saying: "I had pretty high expectations of Jennifer" that Kim has not lived up to. Everhart now works for the ACLU, a group that's opposing an ordinance that Kim has championed to crack down on panhandling.

I can't say that I don't miss it.

Update: I see the Statesman has chimed in with a preliminary piece on the race.

Karl-Thomas Musselman :: Austin City Council Races Already Heating Up
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A Time for Change (0.00 / 0)
Kim's agenda to crack down on panhandling is a disgrace to a city that prides itself on helping those in need.  I enjoy helping people who have hit a rough patch, as do other Austinites.  We should all be more concerned with saying hello and wishing panhandlers a nice day, not whisking them away in a police car.  We have more pressing matters in our city. It's an example of Kim's disconnect with the Austin populace - it's time for a change.

a change'll do us good (0.00 / 0)
i love that an austin city council race is already making headlines more than a half year out. and i think that there is good cause for this political battleground to start taking form.

randi shade is a really great and really different candidate for this seat than kim has been for the past 2 years. she comes in with a true love and vision for austin. she's a woman who exemplifies the true friendliness and character that austin aspires to model...someone who will listen and nurture austin to be the best place it can be, not just now, but as we continue to grow. i think that kim has missed the boat on a lot of opportunities since her election in '05 and it's healthy for someone to call her out on it.

this is good stuff, and i hope you come back to bathe in it KT ;-)


you know why I'm smiling. =) (0.00 / 0)
Because three of my friends have already commented in this thread.

It was great seeing you at the Capitol last week. You know some of the stuff we talked about...lets just say it's happening.


[ Parent ]
Remove an aggie, Elect a Longhorn (0.00 / 0)
Sadly, Kim has been a major disappointment in her term over and over again.  She has continued to fail on the promises she made to this city.  Fortunately, we will have the opportunity to replace a disappointing City Council Member with someone more deserving.  I don't know about the rest of you, but I always love the opportunity to replace an aggie (Kim) with a great Longhorn (Shade) - unless of course that aggie is Chet Edwards who is in a league of his own. 

Excitement in Randi (0.00 / 0)
Everyone I've come into contact with who has worked with Randi Shade in the Austin community was impressed. There's more than online entrepreneurship with her...every review I've received in regard to Randi's potential as a public servant has detailed effectiveness as a community organizer and a strong work ethic. What's most notable with her candidacy at this point is that she is convincing enough people that this seat is worth challenging. 

I never understood (0.00 / 0)
how Kim won in the first place. Prior to her election, I had never seen her anything but egotistical and condescending to pretty much everybody.

Low turnout in the runoff... (0.00 / 0)
If Margot hadn't irritated Mandy Vanity Candidate then she probably would have gone over 50% in the first round.

The poster is not Treaty Oak but is an authorized representative.

[ Parent ]
staff matters (0.00 / 0)
She had a top notch campaign manager who knows city politics in and out better than most anyone. 

[ Parent ]
I agree! (0.00 / 0)
We were actively involved with the first Kim election through her then campaign manager Amy Everhart. We block walked, phone banked, and did whatever we could to get Kim elected.  Amy Everhart and her grassroots army (of which we were a part) had everything to do with Kim's election.  I predict whomever Amy supports this time will be the victor.

Other than allowing dogs on more patios (in an already dog-friendly city) Kim has been a big let down. 


[ Parent ]
Well... we'll have to see (0.00 / 0)
who gets the coveted Treaty Oak endorsement. That will more than likely decide the race as we all know.

The poster is not Treaty Oak but is an authorized representative.

Like most Austin progressives... (0.00 / 0)
I have been disappointed in the Kim regime and am looking for a change.  BUT, I think this will be a difficult campaign for any challenger.  Over the last year or so, Kim has positioned herself on the populist side of many big issues (fix290/CAMPO, Northcross Walmart, STL, fixaustin.org, etc.).  This will blunt attempts by a challenger to make inroads among the neighborhood groups.  The attempted panhandling crack-down is moronic, but campaigning against the homeless is sure to help her with the chamber and downtown business interests.  She also was a pretty effective retail campaigner during the 2005 race (remember the UDems endorsement) and has the ability to raise a lot of money (Asian-American community anyone?). 

That being said, the Statesman absolutely hates her.  It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.  I don't know Randi Shade, but I'm eager to hear more...


I totally agree. (0.00 / 0)
Jennifer Kim is far from progressive.

In the Statesman story, Elliot McFadden claims that Jennifer Kim is the "most consistent progressive voice on the Council." Is he kidding? Jennifer has not lived up to the standards she set for herself during her first campaign. The only thing consistent about her is that she puts her self-interest over the community's interest. Remember the airport fiasco?

In 2005, Kim won the seat of Jackie Goodman, Austin's long-time environmental and neighborhood champion.  But upon arriving in office, Kim asked all of Jackie Goodman's Board and Commission appointments to RESIGN, thereby stiff-arming many dyed-in-the-wool progressives who had fought hard to make Austin great. 

The earlier Statesman story from a week or 2 ago also pointed out that Kim failed our local labor leaders.  How is it progressive to ignore the needs of Austin's working families?

And now, if there was any confusion left, the pending panhandling issue shows who the conservatives on this council are - cosponsors Brewster McCracken and Jennifer Kim. They want to ban solicitation, which essentially criminalizes poverty and scapegoats day laborers and homeless folks. If that isn't the opposite of the progressive spirit, I don't know what is.  We should instead focus on the causes of poverty, not the symptoms.  If Austin can't be humane to its citizens, then there's no hope for the rest of Texas.


[ Parent ]
Progressives should be against panhandling (0.00 / 0)
1. The people who really need (and want) help are getting it, perhaps less than we would like, but not at street corners. The guys at street corners are what we used to call 'bums' - if you actually offer to give them work or food, they will inevitably decline; and if you give them money, you can win on 10-1 odds that their next stop is the liquor store.

2. If you want an economically healthy city, you absolutely cannot tolerate normal citizens being harassed by panhandlers. And a healthy city helps the people who really need the help a lot more than the donut-hole-wasteland that results from an unhealthy city. Try convincing a fence-sitting business' CEO to move downtown when his employees and clients have to dodge panhandlers.

This marriage of self-identified progressives and bums has got to stop. It tempts guys like me to vote Republican.


[ Parent ]
healthy city (0.00 / 0)
By healthy city, I mean that if businesses move to Round Rock because Austin is the panhandler-ridden cesspool that some of you seem to prefer, the city of Austin has fewer tax funds to spend on helping the people who really want and need the help. And I guarantee you Round Rock isn't going to pick up the slack.

[ Parent ]
beggar decriminalization (0.00 / 0)
mike, I think you are right about _aggressive_ panhandling in which citizens are harassed.  But this legislation was targeted towards "passive" begging at street corners and intersections.  It seems easy enough to me to ignore such behavior and thus I don't see why criminalizing it is good policy. Regarding the concentration of panhandlers downtown...I would be open to relocating ARCH to a more appropriate location.  But what neighborhood would be willing to accept it?

[ Parent ]
Even passive panhandling (0.00 / 0)
presents a problem. Ever try explaining to your kids why there's a bum out there doing that?

Look, you can call it mean-spirited all you want, but the practical implication of allowing panhandling is to drive away economic activity which could otherwise fund efforts to help people far more deserving and needful of the help than the bums on the corner.

As for ARCH - I think it needs to be downtown. The concentration of services and public transportation is there -- that's something we just have to live with, but there's no reason we have to live with panhandling just to show how caring we supposedly are - I think it's obvious to people who understand economics and politics how it can actually be worse than making them stop.


[ Parent ]
Yes. Let's try explaining panhandling to our kids... (0.00 / 0)
...instead of trying to hide the act from our children.  It is our moral and civic responsibility to educate our children on such matters, and to simply say "panhandlers bad" (and to tout the right-wing mantra that 'liberals should be against it') displays ignorance of the issue and irresponsibility of not exploring the causes and the proven-solutions.

Kids need to know, b/c they will inherit our failure to deal with this issue sustainably.

Panhandling is NOT a public safety issue--show me where panhandlers have brought violence on others. I can, however, show you much evidence of violence brought upon them.

It is a social issue--one that won't be fixed by, and will likely be made worse by, expansion of already-overbroad and unconstitutional ordinances.

While there is some nugget of truth in enabling by giving...there's no logic in saying "give instead to the social service programs" because without real finanacial backing from the City, they are not equipped to serve. Tossing a few bucks at the ARCH will not add the needed 3500+/- beds!

We have already been deemed by the National Coalition on the Homeless as the 10th meanest city in the nation in terms of our laws and lack of funding services. JK and BM want us to move UP that list, apparently.

We are morally deft if we do not let all the service groups who are working on the City to fund proven programs succeed there first, before enacting laws that will only drive more people underground (and INTO YOUR NEIGHBORHOODS!), into the jails (COSTS TONS MORE TO HOUSE THEM THERE!) and in harm's way-even more than they already are.

Even a conservative should be able to see the illogic of this proposal...hell, it's gonna cost you MORE MONEY!

We have NO true progressives left on the dais. Period. No one with vision...just career ambitions who think the only way to move up is to roll over.

I'll support Ms. Shade if she promises to be a one-termer only. That seems to be our only hope for avoiding these horrific, wasteful political battles that have NO business ever making it to the table in the first place. 

Mark my words, if this thing passes and then goes to court (what's on the books now has already been ruled unconstitutional in a municipal court)...you poverty profilers will be all "wahh! we wasted time and taxpayer dollars....we should have tried to dispose of needy people some other way!"


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