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Gallo & Dealey Both Tout Experience in Battle for Wealthy, Politically Active District 10

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Both of the women running for District 10 have run for office before. Sheri Gallo ran for Travis County Commissioner in Precinct 2 nearly 12 years ago, and Mandy Dealey ran for Austin City Council nine years ago. Both women also argue that the district struggles with affordability as often as other districts across Austin, offering different solutions for the affluent, property rich district.

Gallo owns a real estate business and says her job has prepared her for the challenges a possible council seat would bring, like affordability

“That affordability issue comes down to business practices,” Gallo says. “If you run city government and you do sound budgeting, you control expenses.  The other piece in there that we need to work on is customer service. Then, I think, we do get a handle on controlling expenses and hoping to stop that affordability issue that we are facing right now.”

District 10 is home to some of the most expensive real estate in the city, and some of the most affluent Austinites live there. Regardless of income, Gallo says everyone is feeling the pinch that comes with high property taxes.

“Affordability is not a dollar amount,” she says. “It's the relation of your income to your expenses.”

The solution many candidates have tossed around is for the city to institute a 20 percent homestead exemption.

But, Mandy Dealey says the new city council will need to explore other possible solutions as well.

“Of course, Austin property taxes only account for about 20 percent of the overall tax bill,” Dealey says. “So, [a] homestead exemption is not going to be a huge cut. But, we need to do everything we can to help the homeowners in District 10.”

Just like affordability is an issue that affects rich and poor alike, traffic is one of the district's major challenges – there's MoPac traffic, Highway 360 traffic and cars pouring in and out of F.M. 2222.

Dealey says that, while other districts can look at building roads as a possible solution, the topography in West and Northwest Austin makes that solution impossible in District 10.

“So, that makes getting around more difficult. It also makes response time for public safety more difficult,” she says.

The district's characteristic hills, green belts and canyons, also put it at risk of wildfires.

“The issue with wildfire is that, if it starts, it's so difficult to fight because of the accessibility for the fire and our safety people to be able to get in,” Gallo says.

Listening to Sheri Gallo's and Mandy Dealey's responses it was hard to spot glaring differences between the candidates – they even both refer to their opponent as "a very nice lady.”

So, what sets them apart?

“I think the business background is the biggest difference,” Gallo says.

Dealey points to her experience within City of Austin government.

“I think it's experience. I have served on six different city boards and commissions for a total of 19 years,” she says. “I spent seven years on the planning commission, six years on the downtown commission, and a year chairing the water overlay taskforce.”

District 10 is one of the few where voters are turning out during early voting. Early voting ends tomorrow, and Election Day is next Tuesday, Dec. 16.

Below you can listen to both candidates' one-on-one interviews with KUT's Joy Diaz.

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.
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