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city council

Ann Kitchen Kick Offs South Austin Campaign for Council at Broken Spoke

by: ann kitchen

Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 03:53 PM CDT


Join me on Tuesday, June 17th, as I hold my campaign kick-off at the iconic Broken Spoke from 5:30 to 7PM.

What: Ann Kitchen Campaign Kick-Off, District 5

When: June 17th at 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM

Where: The Broken Spoke 3201 South Lamar Blvd. Austin, TX 78704

We face serious challenges - rapid growth is bringing gridlock to our roads and making our city increasingly unaffordable. But we have an opportunity - with a new city council and a climate of change, to take on tough issues that will shape Austin as we grow. I’ll be a strong experienced voice for the people of South Austin and our entire community.

As a South Austinite for over 20 years, I have been a leader on health, cost of living and environmental issues in Austin. I have been honored to serve our community as a former State Representative and health care advocate.

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Austin City Council Votes to Consider Rideshare Pilot Program

by: Joe Deshotel

Sat May 17, 2014 at 03:30 PM CDT

Image Yellow Cab used to characterize rideshare services
On Thursday the Austin City Council approved a measure to allow stakeholders to begin the process of developing a pilot program to legalize Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) -- colloquially referred to as "rideshare." Another measure was passed to direct the city manager to work with existing taxi franchises and other stakeholders to consider ways to meet increased demand including additional and speciality permits, and explore the role of TNCs.

The move was the culmination of several factors: long standing traffic congestion, demand for increased transportation options, complaints about existing legacy taxi services, recent deaths due to drunk driving, and TNCs like Uber and Lyft that have begun to target the Austin market.

Several petitions in favor of allowing TNCs have also played a role in sending tens of thousands of voices to City Council on this issue.

See who said what at Council and who is behind the petitions below the jump...

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David vs Goliath - Colleyville/Grapevine Local Elections

by: easyaim

Tue May 13, 2014 at 05:08 PM CDT

  Local non-partisan elections got very partisan last weekend in Northeast Tarrant County in the Grapevine-Colleyville area near Fort Worth.
 It started when the right-wing group "Empower Texans" endorsed four candidates in the area city council and school board elections.
 Although "Empower Texans" has a very benign-looking website they are well-known as a front to Michael Q. Sullivan's right-wing group whose agenda includes cutting funds to public schools and supporting campaigns of far-right candidates.
 This attempt by hard-right conservatives to move into the local governments was discovered by Democratic Party activist and Colleyville resident Mark Bauer. He sent out an email warning the area progressives and organized a phone bank that consisted of a bipartisan group of both Democrat and Republican voters to support the moderate candidates. A photo of the phone bank was downloaded from Bauer's Facebook page and was used in various right-wing reports and literature to fire up their base.

Phonebank photo

 The Northeast Tarrant Tea Party is one of the strongest Tea Party clubs in Texas and they sent out expensive mailers that attempted to paint the opposition as far-left liberals by association.

 However, Bauer's phone bank reached over 1,000 voters and the results were successful: three of the four candidates supported by the progressive group won or made it to a run-off (Jesse Rodriguez - GCISD School Board, Jorge Rodriguez - GCISD School Board, and Duff O'Dell - Grapevine City Council in a run-off).
 Ironically, Stan Hall, the moderate Colleyville City Council incumbent who lost had a better Republican voting record than the right-wing supported candidate Chris Putnam - another case of the Republicans "eating their own".
 The lesson learned: although progressive citizens are in the minority in many areas of Texas, a well run phone bank and block walking effort can defeat the Tea Party efforts.


Empower Texans attacks Colleyville Liberals

"Colleyville Local Election Takes On a Partisan Tone"

Empower Texans endorses Deverick Jordan  (Grapevine City Council)

Empower Texans endorses Mark Assaad  (Grapevine-Colleyville ISD)

Empower Texans endorses Troy Greisen  (Grapevine-Colleyville ISD)

Empower Texans endorse Chris Putnam (Colleyville City Council)

Tea Party leader website:

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The City of Austin launches "Know Before You Go, Get Home Safe," Council to Consider Rideshare

by: Joe Deshotel

Fri May 09, 2014 at 03:30 PM CDT

On May 4th the City of Austin  -- reeling from several recent highly publicized drunk driving deaths -- launched a new page on its website aimed at helping residents and visitors find their way home safe at night. It includes every current legal means to get home along with their contact information, plus some basic helpful tips.

One thing you won't find any mention of is rideshare. That's because the City of Austin has so far not approved any, but on May 15th the Council will consider a pilot program to do just that.

I spoke with Transportation spokeswoman Samantha Alexander -- see what she said below the jump...

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SXSW Forever 27: The Community Responds & The City Reviews

by: Joe Deshotel

Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 02:18 PM CDT

The Events that took place during SXSW 2014 entered the festival into a dark but elite club known as "Forever 27." A group whose members saw untimely death come in their 27th year. For SXSW though, it is an opportunity to reflect on the events that transpired leaving at least 3 dead and how the iconic festival can continue to grow with the city without future incident.

Like the festival itself the news of the tragedy was international as well was the outpouring of community support for the victims and their families. Blood, money and fellowship were among the many ways Austin and the patrons of SXSW have shown their respects to the victims and their friends and families. City officials are also looking at public safety policies regarding large scale events of which Austin has many, and local music promoters and fans are organizing efforts that will keep the momentum of recovery going.

More below the jump...

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President Obama Lays Out His "Climate Action Plan", Austin City Council Members Step Up

by: Joe Deshotel

Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 05:00 PM CDT

Texas will be a deep red state for a while, but it's not why you think. According to the White House, 2012 was the "warmest year on record for the U.S.", with 356 record high temperatures tied or broken. In 2011, Texas broke 327 heat records with over 100 days in a row of over 100 degrees fahrenheit. That's partly why the President has announced he will be working with localities to address the effects of climate change.

The heat is being felt and the message is being heard deep in the heart of Texas, where Austin city councilmen Mike Martinez and Chris Riley along with health professionals, environmentalists and concerned citizens will host a press conference Wednesday morning calling for "bold federal action on climate solutions."

Like immigration and marriage equality, climate change is becoming an issue that is too difficult reserve as red meat for primary voters while ignoring the general public's opinion and welfare. Rightwing corporatists and their elected counterparts, like Attorney General Greg Abbott like to cast environmentalists as "far-left eco-extremists" and job killers, but a new infographic by the White House shows how unsustainable our current energy policy actually is.

The cost of weather related disasters alone topped $100 Billion in 2012.

Click below the jump and see why this could be a wave Democrats could ride in 2014...

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Midyear 2013 Houston election update

by: kuff

Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 05:54 AM CDT

(Thanks to Kuff for this thorough preview of Houston's elections this November! - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)

Back in January, I took an early look at the 2013 elections in Houston. At the request of the folks at the Burnt Orange Report, who also printed my initial overview, here's an update on the races in the city of Houston in 2013. Join me beneath the fold for the goodies.
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Dallas Municipals: Where's the Money?

by: jvansickle

Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 02:26 PM CST

(Thanks to James van Sickle for this guest post! What are folks hearing about these races? Tell us in the comments! - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)

Now that January 15 has come and gone, the campaign finance reports are in for Dallas City Council candidates.  In this article we are going to be looking at some of the new faces that have announced their candidacy since our last blog post, plus review the reports filed with the Dallas City Secretary.  We will also briefly touch upon the Redistricting Trial that would affect the 2013 City Council maps.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am working with Delia Jasso (District 1) and Bobby Abtahi (District 14) as Data Manager and Technology Consultant.

Article Update (1/21/13): The original problem with Councilors Tennell Atkins and Carolyn Davis reports have been fixed so they are now visible online.  I have updated the table in this article to list their report totals.  City Hall Blog from the Dallas Morning News also published an article today stating that Ori Raphael is continuing his campaign.

Find out who's running and how much they have in the bank below the jump.

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A first look at Houston's 2013 elections

by: kuff

Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 05:57 AM CST

(Thanks to Charles Kuffner for this detailed first look into Houston's upcoming November elections.   - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)

Dist        Name     Cash on hand



Myr       Parker        1,281,657

Ctrl     R Green            9,983

AL 1    Costello           57,345

AL 2       Burks            3,160

AL 4    Bradford           20,590

AL 5    Christie           14,535

A          Brown           22,641

B          Davis           64,211

C          Cohen           45,597

F          Hoang            6,429

G     Pennington          119,951

H       Gonzalez           57,899

J         Laster           31,816

K        L Green            9,107

It is 2013, right? So while we have the SD06 special election and the new legislative session to worry about, it's not too early to start talking about the 2013 elections. Let's start with a peek at the campaign finance reports from last July of the Houston officeholders who will be on the ballot this November, at right.

I omitted the three Council members who are term-limited out (Melissa Noriega, Wanda Adams, and James Rodriguez), as well as newly-elected Dave Martin, since his July report would not be relevant. Normally there would have been five open seats this year, but with Mike Sullivan stepping down due to his successful candidacy for Tax Assessor and Jolanda Jones losing in 2011, there are only three vacancies, and as such there will likely be a stampede for those seats. But we'll get to that in a minute.

Below the jump, let's take a closer look at where the non-term limited incumbents are.

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Meanwhile back at the ranch: Dallas Municipals 2013

by: jvansickle

Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 11:13 AM CST

Now that the 2012 General Election is over (thank God!), the next big thing politically (at least for Dallas) are the upcoming 2013 May Municipal elections.  Just like my previous article from 2011, Dallas Municipal Elections Update, I wanted to take a moment to look at who is running and what the races look like right now.

Quick Dallas City Council Background

Dallas City Council is made up of 14 districted seats that run every 2 years. They are term-limited to 4 consecutive terms (8 years total) and earn $37,500 per year. Dallas Mayor, also known as Place 15, serves a 4 year term for a maximum 2 consecutive terms, and earns $60k per year. You can see a map of Dallas City Council Districts at Dallas County Elections website.

New Maps...err....maybe?

Thanks to redistricting in 2011, the City of Dallas now has new maps for its 14 City Council seats.  A fair amount of controversy was stirred up during redistricting about the number of Hispanic opportunity seats available.  Under the new maps, there are 4 Hispanic opportunity districts (Districts 1, 2, 5, & 6).  Some activists from the Hispanic community argued that the large Hispanic population growth justifies a fifth Hispanic opportunity district, but many African-American activists voiced concerns that such as district would be created at the expense of a one of their African-American opportunity districts and would result in retrogression.  The City of Dallas is currently being sued over the new map's hispanic districts.

Much like the State of Texas' redistricting battle, the arguments about maps with the City of Dallas can get complicated quickly.  Bill Betzen has written extensively about this fight on his blog, Dallas Redistricting 2011.  For this article, I will be focusing on upcoming City Council races based on the maps as they currently stand.  If the map lines change, then we will address how those adjustments affect the 2013 Municipal Elections at that time.

A Brief Review of Dallas City Councilors

The following table outlines the winners of Dallas City Council elections over the past 10 years.  Winners who also had a runoff election during a particular year are shaded in yellow; winners who ran unopposed during an election cycle are highlighted in blue.

Past Election Winners
Delia Jasso Delia Jasso Delia Jasso Elba Garcia Elba Garcia Elba Garcia Elba Garcia
*Open Seat* Pauline Medrano Pauline Medrano Pauline Medrano Pauline Medrano John Loza John Loza
Vonciel Hill** Scott Griggs David Neumann David Neumann Ed Oakley Ed Oakley Laura Miller
Dwaine Caraway Dwaine Caraway Dwaine Caraway Dwaine Caraway Maxine Reese Maxine Reese Maxine Reese
*Open Seat* Vonciel Hill Vonciel Hill Vonciel Hill Don Hill Don Hill Don Hill
Monica Alonzo Monica Alonzo Steve Salazar Steve Salazar Steve Salazar Steve Salazar Ed Oakley
Carolyn Davis Carolyn Davis Carolyn Davis Carolyn Davis Leo Chaney Leo Chaney Leo Chaney
Tennell Atkins Tennell Atkins Tennell Atkins Tennell Atkins James Fantroy James Fantroy James Fantroy
Sheffie Kadane Sheffie Kadane Sheffie Kadane Sheffie Kadane Gary Griffith Gary Griffith Mary Poss
Jerry Allen Jerry Allen Jerry Allen Jerry Allen Bill Blaydes Bill Blaydes Alan Walne
*Open Seat* Linda Koop Linda Koop Linda Koop Linda Koop Lois Finkelman Lois Finkelman
Sandy Greyson Sandy Greyson Ron Natinsky Ron Natinsky Ron Natinsky Sandy Greyson Sandy Greyson
*Open Seat* Ann Margolin Ann Margolin Mitch Rasansky Mitch Rasansky Mitch Rasansky Mitch Rasansky
*Open Seat* Angela Hunt Angela Hunt Angela Hunt Angela Hunt Veletta Lill Veletta Lill

** Vonciel Hill used to represent District 5, but redistricting will now have her in District 3.

Current Elections

Now that we have done a brief overview of City Council, redistricting, and past incumbents; let's take a look at the potential races that will be going on in the 2013 May Municipal Elections.

District 1 (Delia Jasso vs. Scott Griggs)

District 1 encompasses Oak Cliff and Kessler Park, and has the largest concentration of Hispanic voters (79%).  Under the new maps, current city council incumbents Delia Jasso (District 1) and Scott Griggs (District 3) both got drawn into the same district.  Neither has so far indicated that they are NOT running so we could have two sitting councilors fighting for the same seat.

Delia Jasso has represented District 1 since 2007, and succeeded County Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia who was term-limited out.  Scott Griggs was elected in 2009, and has gained some popularity with his outspoken anti-fracking stance.  Both councilors have good backgrounds in helping their communities, and the fact they may now have to fight each other over a city council seat is a truly sad outcome of these new maps.

I should note for full disclosure that I worked with both candidates in their elections and re-elections.

District 2 (formerly Pauline Medrano, Open Seat)

For the past 8 years, District 2 has been represented by Pauline Medrano.  In the past two elections, Pauline's incumbency was challenged by William "Billy" MacLeod whom she handily defeated on both occasions.  It is unclear if Billy MacLeod will make a third attempt to run for District 2 now that Pauline is term-limited out of this election.  Adam Medrano, nephew to Pauline Medrano, has been rumored for years by local activists to be considering a run for the office as Pauline's successor.  Adam currently represents District 8 on the Dallas ISD Board, and was first elected in 2006.  So far Adam has not made any formal announcement of running so it remains to be seen what he will do.

Herschel Weisfeld, an openly gay real estate developer, has already announced his intention to run for District 2 in the upcoming election as mentioned by the Dallas Voice.  District 2 covers a large section of the LGBT community in Oak Lawn.  However, in 2006, Dallas' Stonewall Democrats endorsed Pauline Medrano over LGBT community member Monica Barros-Greene citing Pauline's support of the LGBT issues and community.

Ricky Gonzales filed a Treasurer Appointment with the Dallas City Secretary.  I do not have much information on Ricky at this time, but did find that he posted an online notice seeking a volunteer web developer for the campaign.

Open seat elections easily draw four or more candidates so it remains to be seen who else announces for this seat.

District 5 (former Vonciel Hill, Open Seat)

District 5 is an open seat election under the new map.  Scott Griggs of District 3 was drawn into District 1, and Vonciel Hill formerly of District 5 now resides in the new District 3.  District 5 has been drawn as a Hispanic opportunity district in the area of Dallas known as Pleasant Grove.  At this time, I have not heard of any candidates that have formerly announced to run for this new seat and no one has yet filed a Treasurer Appointment with the Dallas City Secretary.

District 10 (incumbent Jerry Allen, fourth term)

District 10 is represented by Jerry Allen who will be running for his fourth and final term.  Jerry has a distinction of being unopposed during his first election, and then opposed in every election since.  It more common for candidates to fight a contested race the first time and then run unopposed in subsequent elections.

District 10 resident Matthew Shuman has filed a Treasurer Appointment for District 10.  Matt is a 30 year old resident with sporadic voting history (2008 & 2004 General, no Primary or Municipal).

District 11 (formerly Linda Koop, Open Seat)

District 11 remains largely unchanged from its previous incarnation, and is the second most northern council district of Dallas.  District 11 covers the heavily Jewish areas of Preston Hollow represented by Jason Villalba (State House 114); plus neighborhoods surrounding the Galleria represented by Stefanie Carter (State House 102).  Some followers of Dallas Council politics have suggested that Lois Finkelman is considering a possible run to replace Linda Koop who is term-limited out.  Lois has previously served 8 years on the Dallas City Council, Park Board President, and was appointed to head the city's Gas Drilling Task Force.

District 13 (formerly Ann Margolin, Open Seat)

Current incumbent Ann Margolin was elected in 2009 in the most expensive city council race in the City of Dallas.  The Dallas Morning News reported on Sunday that Ann Margolin had announced she would not be seeking re-election in 2013.  It is unclear exactly who will run to replace her in this district, or whether Brint Ryan may take another stab at running.  Brint currently serves as Finance Chairman of the Dallas County Republican Party and CEO of Ryan LLC, a global tax services firm.  District 13 is composed almost entirely of the Preston Hollow, and its Councillor would represent such local celebrities as former President George W. Bush, Ross Perot, Mark Cuban, and Roger Staubach.

District 14 (formerly Angela Hunt, Open Seat)

In 2011, Angela Hunt was often mentioned as a possible contender for the open mayoral seat vacated by Tom Leppert so he could make his ill-fated bid of United State Senate.  Angela opted to run for her fourth and final term representing District 14, instead.  District 14 has a number of potential candidates that could potentially make this one of the more crowded races of 2013.  I should note for full disclosure that I worked as Angela Hunt's Data Manager for her re-election campaign in 2011.

Here is a breakdown of announced or potential candidates:

Jim Rogers: Jim gets listed first since he announced in 2011 before it became clear Angela was not going to run for Mayor.  Once Angela chose to run for District 14, Jim Rogers changed his plans to run in 2013 when Angela's term expired.  Jim is a lawyer by trade, and one of the founding members of the Byran Place Neighborhood Association.

Philip Kingston: Philip Kingston informed the Dallas Morning News on October 10 that he was running after filing a Treasurer appointment with the City of Dallas.  Philip is also a lawyer, and also served as Angela Hunt's campaign treasurer.  Paul Sims, Angela's husband, is acting as Philip's treasurer.

Judy Liimatainen: Judy Liimatainen has also filed a treasurer appointment with the City of Dallas.  She is a board member for the Greenland Hills Neighborhood Association.

Robert Abtahi: Rumors have been circulating that Robert Abtahi, who currently sits on the city's Plan Commission, is considering a possible run.  Robert is an attorney who graduated from Southern Methodist University, and also served as an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Dallas.

James Nowlin: James Nowlin ran against Angela Hunt in 2011, and was the second highest voter getting (27%) in a four person race.  James dissolved his campaign committee in 2010, but does still live in District 14 under the new maps.  It remains to be seen if James decides to try running again in this open seat election.

Looking ahead at 2015

The Municipal Elections for 2015 could be an interesting year as well assuming that many of the current incumbents seek and win re-election this cycle.  In 2015, 6 city councilors (Vonciel Hill, Dwaine Caraway, Carolyn Davis, Tennell Atkins, Sheffie Kadane, and Jerry Allen) will be term-limited out of office plus Mayor Mike Rawlings will be up for re-election.
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