Harper-Madison, Ellis reelected to Austin City Council; Districts 3, 5 and 9 heading to runoffs
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The dais at Austin City Hall will look different come January. A contest for mayor was at the top of the ballot for voters, but there were also five City Council seats up for grabs.
Incumbent District 8 Council Member Paige Ellis won her Southwest Austin district after getting nearly 60% of the vote. East Austin Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison also defeated her challengers in District 1, according unofficial results.
Ellis told KUT she was heartened to see her constituents reelect her to a seat that can lean conservative. Despite previously working in environmental policy, Ellis has pushed for more affordable housing and density in Austin.
"As a city we have to be really responsive to the balance between environmental protection and also making sure that housing can be built," she told KUT. "So, I really want to make sure we iron out some of our development services processes and permitting over the next year."
In a text, Harper-Madison's office said she was "incredibly honored" to win reelection to her District 1 seat.
“I have said all along I was willing to serve if people were willing to vote for me," her statement read. "We are going to continue working together to grow Austin responsibly and bring the attention and investment that District 1 deserves."
District 3 candidates José Velásquez and Daniela Silva will head to a December runoff to replace Pïo Renteria.
Velásquez said he was proud his campaign put him at the top of the heap in the six-candidate field.
"I remain committed to fight to ensure that every voice is heard as we work together towards an affordable, accountable and equitable Austin for all," he said in a text to KUT. "I look forward to earning the support and votes of residents during the runoff election and becoming the next Austin City Council Member of District 3.”
In a statement to KUT, Silva thanked her volunteers and the district's voters.
“We’re ... feeling strong and optimistic about the future," the statement read. "This outcome was expected, and we’re prepared to turn out the vote and earn more support in the run-off for our grassroots, people-powered campaign.”
Margins in Districts 5 and 9 were closer, as voters decided who will take over for council members who reached their term limits.
Zohaib "Zo" Qadri took an early lead in the crowded District 9 field, with 30% of the vote.
He will face Linda Guerrero in a runoff in December. She had 396 votes more than Ben Leffler for the second spot. City Council candidates must secure more than 50% of votes to avoid a runoff. If no single candidate does, the two top candidates compete again.
Guerrero emphasized her "broad support" in the race, and said she's gearing up for the runoff.
"I am a consensus builder. I believe, by working together, we can find a win-win solution for whatever challenges our city faces," she said in a written statement.
In a text to KUT Wednesday morning, Leffler called the results "disappointing."
Qadri told KUT he hoped to make the runoff and said he viewed his campaign as one for people who "haven't had a seat at the table" and that he hoped it "uplift[ed] other voices."
In his campaign messaging, Qadri has leaned on his background as a progressive organizer and Muslim of South Asian descent. Austin has never elected a Muslim or a South Asian council member, but he told KUT he wants to represent all of D9 at City Hall.
"I'm just trying to do ... right by everyone in this district," he said. "I happen to be South Asian. I happen to be Muslim, but I just want to be a good public servant. I just want to serve."
In District 5, Stephanie Bazan had a 5-point lead over Ryan Alter. The candidates are heading to a runoff.