Alter Claims Win in District 10 Runoff
From the Austin Monitor: Alison Alter trounced incumbent City Council Member Sheri Gallo on Tuesday with the help of an energized Travis County Democratic Party, as well as neighbors angry over development proposals for the Grove at Shoal Creek and the Austin Oaks planned unit developments.
It was clear from the moment the early votes came in that Alter would win decisively. The newcomer won the early vote with nearly 66 percent, ending the evening with 63.98 percent overall.
Alter attributed her victory to “having an opportunity to really make my case” and to the community’s desire for change. She said her promise was “to put our community first, rather than treating our community like a giant cash register.”
Gallo, a real estate agent, has faced strong criticism from neighborhoods close to the Austin Oaks PUD and to a lesser extent those surrounding the Grove PUD. The most vocal of those critics are members of the Arbor PAC, which is sponsoring the anti-Gallo website GalloforSale.com as well as the Facebook page Stop the Austin Oaks PUD.
Gallo did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.
Both the Grove and Austin Oaks are on the Council agenda for Thursday, with the Grove on third and final reading and Austin Oaks on first reading of three possible. Those have been the subject of mediated resolutions between the developers and the neighborhoods, but not all the neighbors have been in agreement with those resolutions.
Alter said she was still working on what she thought should happen with the Grove. She said, “I hope that the rest of my colleagues will see that today’s vote was a mandate from the voters that these (development issues) are issues that we need to take a little bit more slowly and deliberately.”
Of course, Alter will not take her seat on Council until January, but Thursday’s meeting is the final one for Gallo.
After that, there will be only one Republican, Ellen Troxclair, on Council. District 6 Council Member Don Zimmerman, a staunch Republican, lost his seat to Democrat Jimmy Flannigan on Nov. 8.
Although she resisted the Republican label, the Austin American-Statesman reported that Gallo has voted in both Democratic and Republican primaries, and she ran as a Republican for Travis County Commissioner in 2002.
In addition to the Travis County Democratic Party, Alter had help and endorsements from the city’s various Democratic clubs, the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action and labor.
Peck Young, director of the Center for Public Policy and Political Studies at Austin Community College, told the Austin Monitor, “It’s all about turnout, and with all those organizations working for her” it’s no surprise that Alter won. However, he said he was surprised by the margin, which he attributed to people angry about the two PUDs and the Democratic Party’s desire to win the district. In 2014, Democrat Mandy Dealey narrowly lost in a runoff to Gallo.
Young said he was also impressed by the 22.31 percent turnout for the District 10 runoff.
Mykle Tomlinson, Alter’s political consultant, commented that he had never seen as many volunteers as have shown up to help this candidate in the last few weeks.
District 10 is made of up neighborhoods in the hills west of downtown with names like Tarrytown, Northwest Hills, Rosedale, Jester Estates and Great Hills. Many of the city’s wealthiest people — lawyers, developers, doctors and entrepreneurs — call District 10 home. The district is roughly bordered by MoPac Expressway on the east, Lake Austin on the south, U.S. Highway 183 on the north, and the boundary with District 6 on the west.
Council Member Leslie Pool told the Monitor that she planned to meet with Alter early this morning to talk about various issues, with the Grove, no doubt, at the top of the list.