2018 Election Results: Adler, Tovo Win Re-election; Runoffs In Districts 1, 3 And 8

Nov 6, 2018

Mayor Steve Adler has shored up a second term as mayor of Austin. Incumbent Council Member Kathie Tovo appears to have been re-elected to her District 9 seat. In District 3, Council Member Sabino "Pio" Renteria teeters on the edge of securing his re-election, but will likely head to a runoff against his sister, Susana Almanza. Districts 1 and 8 are headed to runoff elections in December.

Mayor | District 1 | District 3 | District 5 | District 8 | District 9

Mayor

Mayor Steve Adler and challenger Laura Morrison participated in KUT's mayoral forum on Oct. 22.
Credit Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Results: Incumbent Mayor Steve Adler has won a second term with 59 percent of the vote. Challenger Laura Morrison got 19 percent of the vote and told KUT she has conceded the race. At his watch party, Adler said Morrison called him to congratulate him on winning his second term, according to KUT's Audrey McGlinchy.

"This community spoke with such a singular, clear vote tonight," he said in his acceptance speech.

Background: Mayor Steve Adler is fighting to retain his seat against six challengers, most of whom are political newcomers with some wild ideas – including building a dome around Austin to keep out “foreigners and California refugees.” (Uber would pay for it.)

Since he won his first bid for mayor in 2014, Adler has established himself as an earnest mediator – even when, well, his best intentions fall short. In 2016, for example, he tried to broker a last-minute backroom deal with Uber and Lyft, but the rest of the council could not sign off, and the ride-hailing companies left the city. (Then came back).

Adler’s biggest threat comes from Laura Morrison, a former City Council member and big critic of CodeNEXT, the city’s defunct rewrite of its land development code. Morrison has also been critical of a deal on the table (though not yet finalized) to bring a Major League Soccer team to Austin.

Five other candidates are on the ballot:

Alexander Strenger, who wants the dome, would legalize marijuana and tax the sale of it.

Gus Peña is a City Council regular, testifying at nearly every council meeting this reporter has watched on homelessness and veteran services. We couldn’t find a campaign page for Pena, so it’s hard to know exactly where he stands on the issues.

Todd Phelps, a musician and owner of an entertainment production company, lost the mayoral race in 2014. He says he wants to cut property taxes and fee waivers to corporations.

Alan Peasea writer and former owner of a motorcycle tour company, has served as a member of the city’s Aquatic Advisory Board.

Travis Duncan is calling for free public WiFi and for the city to purchase up to 40 acres of land to house people free of charge. According to the Austin Chronicle, Duncan used to sell solar power.

City Council District 1
The District 1 candidates at KUT's forum on Oct. 1.
Credit Emree Weaver for KUT

Results: Mariana Salazar, with 26 percent of the vote, and Natasha Harper-Madison, with 25 percent, are heading to a December runoff. 

Background: Here are the candidates on the ballot.

Natasha Harper-Madison, an entrepreneur and community activist, is board president of the East 12th Street Merchants Association. She also started East Austin Advocates, a group that tries to match low-income families to resources.

Mitrah Elizabeth Avini grew up in Austin and was at one point involved in the city's indie film scene. She has been a spokesperson for Joy International, a nonprofit that promotes cultural understanding between nations. She has also worked with the Asia Society, helping a startup develop sustainable hygiene products for schoolgirls in India.

Lewis Conway Jr. has probably received the most press coverage in this race. He is trying to win a City Council seat, even though he was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in 1992 and may not be legally allowed to take office. For now, the Austin city clerk is not challenging his place on the ballot. He's currently criminal justice organizer at Grassroots Leadership, a national criminal justice reform nonprofit.

Reedy Macque Spigner III has a lot of experience working for government. He's worked for the state Legislature, the Office of the Attorney General and the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Mariana Salazar came to the U.S. from Venezuela as a teenager. She's a community organizer who has worked with several local, state and federal agencies to focus on affordable housing and ending homelessness.

Vincent Harding is a lawyer and political activist. After working at the Texas Legislature, the Travis County Juvenile Public Defender's Office and the TxDOT, he became the chair of the Travis County Democratic Party.

City Council District 3
The District 3 candidates at KUT's forum on Oct. 3.
Credit Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Results: Incumbent Council Member Pio Renteria leads District 3 with 47 percent of the vote– just shy of the 50 percent hurdle to avoid a runoff. He and his sister, Susana Almanza, will head to a December runoff. Almanza garnered 21 percent.

Background: Here are the candidates on the ballot.

Sabino "Pio" Renteria, the incumbent, bills himself as a “lifetime citizen” of District 3. Council Member Renteria was involved with a number of community board and neighborhood groups before being elected to the District 3 seat in 2014. He also serves on the Capital Metro Board of Directors. 

Susana Almanza is a longtime neighborhood activist who has served on a number of city boards and commissions. She is director of the local nonprofit PODER, People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources. Almanza is also Renteria's. She previously challenged him for the District 3 seat in 2014. 

James Valadez is an Austin native and real estate broker. Valadez currently serves on the city's Board of Adjustment, a position he was appointed to by Renteria.

Jessica Cohen, a native of Houston, has spent most of her adult life in District 3. Cohen is a network security administrator. She also has 24 years of experience in public service, working as an emergency medical technician. 

Justin Jacobson is a restaurant worker who has been vocal about growing affordability struggles throughout the city. Jacobson's family has lived in Austin for generations. 

Amit Motwani is the chief information officer for the United Way for Greater Austin. He has previously worked as the director of education and social services for the local nonprofit El Buen Samaritano and as a GED instructor with LifeWorks Austin.

City Council District 5

  Results: Incumbent Council Member Ann Kitchen ran unopposed.

City Council District 8
The District 8 candidates at KUT's forum on Oct. 10.
Credit Montinique Monroe for KUT

Results: Paige Ellis leads the race replace Council Member Ellen Troxclair with 30 percent of votes. She'll face Frank Ward, who got nearly 25 percent of the votes, in a December runoff.

In a statement tonight, Ellis said she's ready for a runoff. 

"My campaign has never been about the wave - it's always been about the work. And tonight, after a year of hearing from candidates, we finally get to hear from the voters," she said. "I am honored by the positive numbers, and by so many who believe in my campaign. I look forward to continuing the work in the weeks to come."

Background: Here are the candidates on the ballot.

Frank Ward, who currently serves on the city’s Parks and Recreation Board, has been endorsed by Troxclair. According to his campaign website, he has previous experience working at the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the White House, the U.S. Senate and the Texas Capitol.

Paige Ellis identifies as a Democrat running for the District 8 seat. She currently works as a marketing and public involvement specialist for the Austin-based environmental consulting firm, aci Group. Ellis has previously volunteered for the Texas Book Festival and Keep Austin Beautiful. She has also served as a state convention delegate for the Texas Democratic Party.

Bobby Levinski is an attorney for the local nonprofit Save Our Springs Alliance. He has also been involved with Community Not Commodity, a coalition that led the charge to put CodeNEXT to a public vote. Levinski has previously worked as a policy advisor for Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo, and former Austin City Council Members Laura Morrison and Jennifer Kim. 

Rich DePalma is a small-business owner and community advocate based in Southwest Austin. He serves on the city’s Downtown Commission and its Parks and Recreation Board. DePalma has served on several other local boards, including subcommittees for the Austin Independent School District.

City Council District 9
The District 9 candidates at KUT's forum on Oct. 16.
Credit Montinique Monroe for KUT

Results: Incumbent Council Member Kathie Tovo won re-election with nearly 53 percent of votes in District 9. 

Background: Here are the candidates on the ballot.

Kathie Tovo is the incumbent in District 9. She is running again to continue her work on affordability and homelessness issues, and to support the city’s paid sick leave ordinance and living wage for city employees.

Danielle Skidmore has worked as a public-sector engineer for two decades. Her campaign focuses on affordable housing and transportation, and efforts to reduce displacement from gentrification.

Isiah Jones, an UT-Austin student, calls himself very liberal and is running on a platform of increased affordable housing, better public transit and lower property taxes.

Linda O’Neal is a long-time high school teacher. Her campaign says she is pushing for solutions to make Austin a more affordable city. She also wants to further projects to help protect the environment and look to private companies to help solve Austin’s transit issues.