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Randi Shade Says Runoff Is Worth The $528,400 It Will Cost

Photo by Matt Largey for KUT News.
Austin City Council Member Randi Shade, after a press conference in which she re-affirmed her desire to run in a runoff election for City Council Place 3 against front runner Kathie Tovo.

The $528,400 price tag for a City of Austin runoff election is money worth spending, City Council Member Randi Shade argued in a press conference today.

Shade came in second to challenger Kathie Tovo in Austin's May 14th elections. She got 33 percent of the vote to Tovo's 47 percent.  Because no candidate won a simple majority, the race will go to a runoff unless one candidate bows out. 

In an interview with KUT News, Shade re-affirmed that she had no intention of conceding defeat.  Some political observers say they can't see a way for Shade to overcome her deficit at the polls. Shade pointed to Austin's Water Treatment Plant 4 project as one reason she will stay in the race, arguing that the decision to commit to that project involves much more money than the cost of a runoff election.  Shade believes Tovo would vote to discontinue construction of WTP4, a project in which the city has already invested millions of dollars.

"[Tovo] has never made a statement that suggests what she would do [about the Treatment Plant] when she’s elected," Shade told KUT News. "I think the voters deserve the answer to that question. She has never made an answer to that question, so that leads me to believe that she would stop it."

In an interview with KUT before the general election,  Tovo did not give direct answers to  questions about how she would vote if she were asked to discontinue or "mothball" the treatment plant project.

"I think might be prudent to look at [WTP4] and see if there are any economies that could be realized on the project. But we have already invested a significant amount of money in that project and we need to protect the city's investment," Tovo said in the interview.

Tovo's language implied that she may not vote to block construction of the plant, but Shade says vague answers encourage Shade's "personal" belief that Tovo would discontinue WPT4.

Regardless of where Tovo comes down on WTP4, it may make little difference to the fate of the project.  In another interview with KUT, Austin City Council Member Laura Morrison, a long time opponent of the treatment plant, said that she may re-consider her position in light of how much money has been spent on the project.

Morrison won re-election on May 14th.

Mose Buchele focuses on energy and environmental reporting at KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @mosebuchele.