Austin City Council shake up

When the 10-1 Council first kicked off 2 years ago, the dais was made up of some very different viewpoints.
Yes, it's a non-partisan job but there was a mixture of Democrats and Republicans. 

"We're looking at a city that traditionally had a very, very progressive, very, very left City Council and we're starting to get back to that even with 10-1," said St. Edwards University Political Science Professor Brian Smith.

Smith says incumbent District 10 City Council Member Sheri Gallo, a Republican...losing to the more progressive Alison Alter in the runoff election is a surprise but then again maybe not.

"It's surprising in the sense that an incumbent lost but it's not surprising in the sense that in a progressive city the more progressive candidate won.  Also when we think about the incumbency factor, in City Council it's not as large and we're also talking about an incumbent who has only been in office for 2 years," Smith said.

In the general election, the often controversial Republican Don Zimmerman lost to Democrat Jimmy Flannigan in the District 6 race.

So with Gallo gone too that only leaves one Republican -- District 8's Ellen Troxclair.

"I think the lesson here is Sheri Gallo was in the middle of the road.  I mean she was a loyal Republican but at the same time she took a more conciliatory approach.  She was probably the Democrats' favorite Republican.  And Ellen Troxclair was somewhere there in the middle," said Andy Hogue, Communications Director with the Travis County Republican Party.

Hogue says even though it's a non-partisan job technically there are many challenges for the party.

"There's a lot of ideology behind it.  A lot of environmentalism.  A lot of efforts to try and reduce affordability and instead create tax-payer-subsidized affordable houses that don't really make the city affordable," Hogue said.  "What we need to do is remind Ellen that she really needs to come out swinging."

In the Tuesday runoff, Dr. Alison Alter defeated incumbent Sheri Gallo with 64 % of the vote.  Alter is encouraging Council to postpone Thursday's discussions on The Grove and Austin Oaks.

"I think a postponement to the new Council would respect the voters votes yesterday and on Austin Oaks, Jimmy Flannigan and I will be part of the Council that is voting on second and third reading and it's really important that we're in there right from the beginning of the discussion," Alter said.

She's hoping Council will wait rather than rush any decisions through a lame duck council.  Alter says PUD's can be wonderful for the community.

"We as a city are going to grow.  We do not want to go the way of Detroit.  The question is how we grow and who gets to sit at the table," Alter said.

We did reach out to Mayor Adler's office to see whether postponing those development issues is an option.  They said Council will decide that tomorrow on the dais.

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