2014 Elections

KUT

Early voting starts today in several special elections, including one to fill a State House seat vacated by State Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt, R-Lexington.

Voters in Bastrop, Caldwell, Gonzales, Karnes and Lee Counties are casting a ballot once again. They’re choosing a new Texas House member to represent House District 17, a seat that opened up after Rep. Kleinschmidt resigned to work for the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Straight ticket voting in Texas reached an all-time high in last month’s elections, according to a new report released by the Austin Community College Center for Public Policy and Political Studies.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

KUT, KLRU and the Austin Monitor co-hosted a debate earlier today between Mike Martinez and Steve Adler. One of them will be Austin’s next mayor and will lead 10 city council members through the first years of a new form of city government.

A continuación usted podrá escuchar una traducción del debate entre los candidatos para presidente municipal, los señores Mike Martinez y Steve Adler. La votación temprana termina el Viernes 12 de Diciembre. El día de la elección formal es el 16 de Diciembre.

Photo by clockwerks http://www.flickr.com/photos/clockwerks/

The group Battleground Texas was begun with the idea that Texas is a state that can turn blue, but despite the money, volunteers and strategizing, Republicans expanded their margin of victory in this week’s elections.

Battleground Texas never promised a blue state by 2014, however, so there’s still a chance the group can keep its thousands of volunteers motivated.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

There was a time when it didn't cost a whole lot to win a race for Austin mayor.

Up until the election of outgoing Mayor Lee Leffingwell, mayoral elections in Austin were typically won with less than $300,000 – sometimes with much less.

But with the city's rapid expansion and efforts to combat low voter turnout, this year's mayoral election has produced the most expensive campaigns in the office's history -- and it's not over.

For the next six weeks, run-off candidates Mike Martinez and Steve Adler are poised to ramp up their fundraising efforts in the hopes of luring voters to the polls for the Dec. 16 runoff.

Democratic Share of Latino Vote Shrinks in Texas

Nov 5, 2014
Nathan Bernier/KUT News

With Election Day in the rear-view mirror, we’re getting a look at research into what voters had to say. Political opinion research firm Latino Decisions surveyed 4,200 likely Latino voters in 10 states in its 2014 Election Eve poll.

In Texas, it found immigration is the most important issue facing Latino voters, followed by jobs and the economy and health care came in last.

Tom LeGro for PBS NewsHour Flickr; https://flic.kr/p/5ixDyb

For much of this election year there was powerful conventional wisdom about the race for governor in Texas: Democrat Wendy Davis couldn’t win, Republicans couldn’t lose and Texas wouldn’t change.

Now that Election Day has come and gone, it’s clear that that conventional wisdom got a good bit right. But in the eyes of author and commentator Richard Parker, [it] got a good bit wrong as well. 

Mengwen Cao/KUT

Election Day totals are in.

Republicans swept the statewide elections, with Greg Abbott winning the gubernatorial race and Dan Patrick besting San Antonio Democrat Leticia Van de Putte for Lieutenant Governor in the top two races.

Citywide races weren't so clear-cut. There will be nine run-offs in races for Austin City Council and for Mayor of Austin. Council Member Mike Martinez trails Austin attorney Steve Adler 29.63 percent to his nearly 37 percent. Delia Garza and Ann Kitchen were the only two Austin City Council candidates to win their districts with more than 50 percent of the vote in Districts 2 and 5, respectively. The rest of the races will be decided in run-off elections in December. 

Additionally, three Austin School Board elections went to run-offs; Sarah Eckhardt became the first female Travis County Judge; and Texas passed a statewide road improvement bond.

While Austinites couldn't forge consensus on council candidates, they did vote down by a wide margin a billion-dollar proposition to build a light rail system and accompanying road improvements, with 57 percent of Austinites voting against and nearly 43 percent voting for it.

Statewide Transportation Measure Passes

Nov 5, 2014

Update: The constitutional amendment to take some oil and gas tax revenues and direct them towards road project funding passed by a wide margin – 79.78 percent for to 20.21 percent against.

"Passing Proposition 1 was just the first step in addressing the transportation funding shortfall in Texas," said Scott Haywood, President of Move Texas Forward, which pushed for the measure. "We look forward to continue working with our coalition partners as we fight for the additional funding for transportation that will move Texas forward.”

Original Story (Nov. 4, 12:21 p.m.): So much digital ink and airtime has been spilled over Austin's rail and roads proposition (commonly known as Austin's Prop 1), which would add a billion dollars in city debt to build a starter light rail line and improve state roads. But that isn't the only transportation item on the ballot this year. There's also a statewide proposition (also commonly known as statewide Prop 1) that could have an impact on Texas roads. 

GRAPHIC COURTESY OF THE TEXAS TRIBUNE

Update: Ryan Sitton defeated Steve Brown in the race for Railroad Commissioner 58.31 percent to 36.49 percent.

Original Story (Nov. 4, 4:14 p.m.): An empty seat on a strangely-named state regulatory agency usually flies under the radar of voters. But the race to serve on the Railroad Commission of Texas has gained additional attention and importance this election. That’s because whoever wins will not oversee railroads, as the name suggests, but will regulate the Texas oil and gas industry. It’s an industry in the midst of a boom that’s transforming global energy markets and pumping billions into the Texas economy.

The two major party candidates competing for the seat offer starkly different visions for what the job entails.

Photo by Nathan Bernier/KUT News

Three of the five races are headed to a run-off on Dec. 16.

Here are the final numbers:

District One: 

  • Ted Gordon 34.56%  (Run-Off)
  • David 'D' Thompson 28.45% (Run-Off)
  • P. Kevin Bryant 18.73%
  • Stanton Strickland 18.25%

District Four: 

  • Julie Cowan 77.41% (Winner)
  • Karen Zern Flanagan 22.59%

Joy Diaz

Updated throughout with Final Totals.

The race to be Austin's next mayor is not over yet. It's headed to a Dec. 16 run-off election because neither of the top two vote-getters received more than 50 percent of the total. Just two city council members have been elected – the top two candidates from the other districts will also head to the run-off.

A total of 78 candidates campaigned in the city’s first election under the 10-1 system of geographic representation.

Mayor of Austin: Steve Adler came out on top in the race for mayor with 36.76 percent. Mike Martinez garnered 29.63 percent of the vote. The run-off election is Dec. 16.

District 1: Ora Houston was just short of the votes needed to win District 1 outright. She received 49.12 percent of the vote. DeWayne Lofton came in second with 14.41 percent of the vote. This race will head to a run-off.

District 2: Delia Garza won District 2 with 65.76 percent of the vote.

District 3: Susana Almanza led the race with 20.99 percent of the vote. She will face her brother, Sabino "Pio" Renteria, in a  run-off. Renteria earned 18.80 percent of the vote.

It's Election Day.

Voters in Travis County can vote at any polling place -- not just their precinct location. This map from the Travis County Clerk shows all voting locations in Travis County. 

KUT News

Five of the nine Austin School Board seats are up for grabs this Election Day. Current trustees in four of those five races decided not to run, which means there will be a lot of new faces on the school board.

The turnover comes as the school district is looking for a new superintendent. The new school board will have some major decisions to make in the next few years regarding the district’s budget, overcrowded and under-enrolled schools and declining enrollment district-wide.

Plus, for people who live within the district, most of an individual’s property tax bill goes toward AISD, not the city of Austin, Austin Community College or Travis County. So even if you don’ t have children in the district, or at all, the Austin School Board can still affect your wallet if it decides to raise property taxes.

Here’s a break down of who is running in each race:

Photo by KUT News

Isabel Rios is standing outside the Fiesta Supermarket on Stassney Lane, approaching shoppers as they walk toward the store. It's the only early voting location near Dove Springs.

"Hola!" she says, walking toward a couple shoppers. "Hello. Votan? Votan, señoras?” 

Rios is stumping for District 2 city council candidate Edward Reyes at Fiesta, the closest early voting location to the Dove Springs neighborhood. She and Reyes say their job has turned from campaigning to encouraging people to vote at all. 

“Just talking and encouraging people to vote," Rios says. "Trying to engage people as we can.”

Texas Tribune

Democrat for Texas Governor Wendy Davis sold at least 4,450 hard copies of her memoir Forgetting to Be Afraid since it was published on September 9th, Nielsen BookScan reports. Conservatives have bashed the number as dismal, but some independent book industry veterans say the sales figure is actually respectable.

via Texas Tribune

The race for Texas Governor has received much of the attention this fall, but last night it was the Comptroller’s race that took center stage.

Republican candidate Glenn Hegar and Democratic candidate Mike Collier met at the debate moderated by Time Warner Cable’s Paul Brown, discussing the state’s incentive policy and the role of the comptroller in the state’s budgeting process.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Gov. Rick Perry was at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California last night, talking about next week's elections.

Perry's speech played off a 1964 speech by Reagan called – perhaps fittingly, in light of Perry’s presidential aspirations – “A Time for Choosing,” which launched the career of the “Great Communicator” and future president.

However, presidential allusion aside, the speech wasn’t Rick Perry throwing his hat into the ring for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera & Bob Daemmrich via Texas Tribune

The words a political candidate uses mean a lot. But how those candidates say those words can make a big difference, too. Especially in a place like Texas.

UT linguist Lars Hinrichs studies the Texas accent. He and some students wanted to see how the two leading candidates for Texas governor match up when it comes to sounding Texan.

Photo credits (L to R, top to bottom): flickr.com/craigallenphotography, flickr.com/byeagle, flickr.com/lemonfilmblog, Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Austinites are voting in 10 different geographically drawn city council districts this election year. It’s a big change from the former at-large system.

This week, we’re continuing our look at each of the city's districts and their needs. Today, we look at District 6, a district that is geographically one of the longest, stretching from Lake Travis all the way to Jollyville on the Austin-Round Rock border.

Ranch to Market Road 620 follows the rocky canyons and rolling hills of District 6, snaking through most of the district's western edge the district.

But District 6 is much more than postcard scenery. It's a district made largely of commuters.

And what’s a marquee issue those voters care about? Traffic.

Ben Philpott/KUT

We're finally in the home stretch of the 2014 elections. And while you're likely to see dozens of campaign ads on TV this last week...it's a knock on a door that may determine the outcome of several elections. The "get out the vote" campaigns being run by Republicans and Democrats are ramping up before the end of early voting this week.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From The Austin Monitor:

Austin City Council politics has hit the big time, with an out-of-state political action committee making numerous negative phone calls into the city to lambaste mayoral candidate Steve Adler.

Photo are courtesy of (counter clockwise) flickr.com/annharkness, Audrey McGlinchy for KUT, John Shapley for KUT, Joy Diaz/KUT

Austin's new city council District 4 is one of the city's most compact districts, geographically speaking. It's easy to define as North Central Austin. One recognizable spot is Highland Mall, which, after its closure, started a chain of building closures and subsequent vacancies in the area.

University of Texas/Texas Tribune

From The Texas Tribune:

Republican Greg Abbott has a 16-point lead over Democrat Wendy Davis in the closing days of this year’s general election for governor, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Abbott has the support of 54 percent of likely voters to Davis’ 38 percent. Libertarian Kathie Glass has the support of 6 percent, and the Green Party’s Brandon Parmer got 2 percent.

“The drama of the outcome is not who wins, but what the margin will be,” said Jim Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin. “Wendy Davis has not led in a single poll in this race.”

Among men, Abbott holds a 61-32 lead in this survey. And he leads by 2 percentage points — 48 to 46 — among women.

Who Is Running for the Austin School Board?

Oct 22, 2014
Photo by KUT News

Early voting is underway and while state and city races make up most of the very long ballot, many people will see at least one Austin ISD School Board race at the bottom. There are five school board races this November. KUT's Nathan Bernier sat down with KUT's education reporter Kate McGee to talk about the candidates in each race. 

District One and At-Large District Nine:

Andrew Weber/KUT

Joe Santori was never a particularly political guy. He designed videogames.

The most he worried about fair representation or mapping data was whether or not the Green Lantern Corps was properly represented or if a map would clutter users’ screens in “DC Universe Online,” a massively multiplayer online role-playing game he worked on in 2011.

But in 2012, Santori got a gig working on the Texas Secretary of State’s Vote Texas app. It was, he says, remarkably similar: data for multiple parties had to be readily available on a screen, like in MMORPGs, and that data had to be specific to where that user was.

Santori decided that kind of data would be useful to Austin voters, and he set out on his own project: The Voting App.

Today, Santori’s firm ThinkVoting debuted The Voting App, a resource to view mock ballots, the League of Women Voters’ voting guide and candidate information across all of Austin’s 10 new geographic districts.

Photos are courtesy of (counter-clockwise) Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT (top left, middle left) and Veronica Zaragovia/KUT (bottom two and top right)

Austinites have begun casting votes in the city's first election based on newly drawn geographic districts.

To help voters make their choice at the polls, we're looking at each of the city's 10 new districts and at some of their needs.

Today, we’ll look at District 3 – which includes big portions of Central Austin, but also goes east of I-35 and stretches into the Montopolis area –which is desirable, centrally located and one of the most gentrified areas of Austin.

Eliot Tretter is a former Austinite who teaches geography in Canada at the University of Calgary. But, before he left Austin a year ago, he published several articles and a book about the gentrification of East Austin. Tretter says gentrification – like many things – can’t be viewed in absolute terms of good or bad. What's clear, he says, is that it disproportionately hurts communities of color.

Austin Monitor

Though early voting started on Monday, the race to City Council hasn’t come to a halt. Over the weekend, an endorsement from the Austin Tea Party had District 4 candidate Greg Casar crying foul and issuing allegations that the whole thing was a stunt to help his opponent win.

The Austin Tea Party sent out a flurry of messages on Twitter Saturday proclaiming their endorsement of Casar for District 4. Austin Tea Party Organizer Dean Wright also sent an email directly to Casar.

Courtesy of Del Valle ISD

You might have heard lot about several bond propositions on the ballot, specifically Austin's $1 billion bond to pay for rail and road projects, but voters in the Del Valle School District are also deciding on a $134 million bond proposition.

The proposition looks to fund improvements, including everything from a new concession stand at the district's football stadium to buses to a pair of new elementary schools. The proposed projects may cover a broad swath of operational needs, but the proposition ultimately looks to get ahead of the district's future growth in student population.

Austin voters will choose a new mayor on November 4, 2014.

KUT's Nathan Bernier sat invited the candidates running for the highest office in the City of Austin to our studios to speak with us about their visions for Austin.

Seven of the eight candidates talked about how they'll deal with issues such as affordability, traffic and transportation,  public education in an expanding city,  and why they want to be Mayor of Austin.

Still can't decide which candidate's getting your vote on Election Day? Below we've got the full audio and archived video of KUT's Ballot Boxing mayoral forum courtesy of KXAN.

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