Surveys of City Council Candidates and Endorsements
May 2011 election
Endorsed Randi Shade over Kathie Tovo in the runoff election. (See survey questions & answers, and text of endorsement.)
May 13, 2006 election
By Michael Bluejay
(Bicycle Austin editor)
By Bicycle Austin
Prop. 1 (Open Govt.)
(not surveyed due to oversight)
See the full text of the endorsements.
May 2005 election
June 2005 runoff:
Nov. 6, 2001 Election
- Travis County Bonds: NO on all (Propositions 1, 2, 3, 4)
- Mayor: Jennifer Gale
- Read the text of our endorsements.
Nov. 7th, 2000 election:
- Light Rail (CapMetro Prop. 1): YES
- Road bonds (Travis County. Prop. 1): NO
- Road/Bike Bonds (City of Austin Prop. 1): NO
- Open Spaces (City of Austin Prop. 2): YES
- President: Ralph Nader (G)
- U.S. Senator: Douglas Sandage (G)
- U.S. Rep., District 10: Lloyd Doggett (D)
- Travis County District Attorney: No endorsement
This is an easy choice. We'd get rail without new taxes and without issuing more bonds, because Capital Metro will finance it with pay-as-you-go from the existing sales tax, plus matching federal funds. Some opponents say that we should improve the better bus system first (or build some exotic alternative, such as monorail or PRT), but the fact is, those choices aren't on the ballot! If you vote down light rail, you don't magically get a new improved bus system. You get nothing. (more on light rail)
Road Bonds (Travis County. Prop. 1): NO
Austin already has more lane-miles per capita of high-quality state- and federally-funded roadways than any other major Texas city. As oil becomes scarcer & more expensive, and as traffic congestion and air pollution keep getting worse, local leaders need to put more effort into actually solving these problems rather than continuing the type of planning that got us in this mess in the first place.
Road/Bike Bonds (City of Austin Prop. 1): NO
This is a $150M bond package, with $20M allegedly going towards bike/ped improvements and the bulk of the rest going to roads. How can we recommend voting against bicycle funding? Because it's tied to road funding which may hurt us more than help us in the long run. Austin already has more lane-miles per capita of state- and federally-funded roadways than any other large Texas city. More mindless road-building just further increases sprawl and congestion and makes cycling more difficult. We fear that after all the road & bike projects authorized by these bonds are built, we'd actually wind up in worse shape than before we started. In addition, we're rather miffed that the City is blackmailing us by combining the road and bike bonds on the same ballot item in the first place. If this item fails, then the next time it comes up for election, we'll be in a better position to demand reasonable levels of bike/ped funding (as well as a separation of bike/ped funding from roadway funding on the ballot). Legendary Austin bike activist Tommy Eden notes:
- "If the voters approve the road bond package, Austin bicyclists will gain new bikeways, but the new barriers which would be built could more than offset the benefits of the new bikeways. Mayor Kirk Watson chose not to let the voters know how the highway money would be spent, but it is a fairly safe bet that most of it would probably be dumped into the proposed eastern bypass, SH 130. There is also some kind of plan to spend local highway money collected in Austin for roads in neighboring counties. This plan sounds suspiciously unconstitutional, and Austin voters probably will not hear much about this issue before the election either." -- Cycling News, Oct. 2000, p. 4
Open Spaces (City of Austin Prop. 2): YES
This proposition authorizes $13.4M in bonds to preserve open spaces. If those spaces are preserved, then developers can't build roads through them. Let's hang onto what quality of life remains in our fair city.
Nader is the only candidate who supports meaningful investments in public transportation, reduction in auto emissions, and increased fuel efficiency standards. And Nader's work regarding transportation safety is legendary.
The fact that the U.S. is controlled by a corporation-owned government has a lot to do with why the highway lobby is so powerful, and consequently why there's so little funding for bikeways and other alternative transportation. (Nobody makes money if people cycle more.) And even foreign policy and economic issues have implications for bicycling. For example, Bush/Gore enthusiastically support trade with China without requiring China to meaningfully improve its human rights record. As a result, bicycles from Huffy (the largest bike manufacturer in the world) are made with sweatshop labor in China.
No matter what issue you're working on -- whether it's bicycles, education, or health care -- you can't get accountability from your government when it's owned by corporate interests. Nader is the only candidate free from such influence. All in all, across a broad range of issues, we believe Nader is simply the best candidate for the job, and our endorsement policy is to always choose the best candidate.
We've all heard that "A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush" (because it would take a vote away from Gore). But in Texas, that's just not true: This is Bush's home state, and Bush is going to win Texas by a landslide, no matter what. That being the case, you can't hurt Gore by voting for Nader. In Texas, the real wasted vote is the vote for Gore.
There's another reason to vote for Nader: If Nader gets 5% of the popular vote nationwide, then the Green Party qualifies for federal funding in the next election. The only way out of our mess of corrupt government is to slowly claim our democracy back. It won't happen overnight, but getting 5% for the Green Party is an important first step. (visit Nader's website)
U.S. Senator: Doug Sandage (G)
Slim pickings in this race. Kay Bailey-Hutchison (R) is best known for her disastrous positions (such as suggesting suspending the federal gasoline tax for the summer!). Gene Kelly (D) (who won the primary election against Charles Gandy, founder of the Texas Bicycle Coalition), has never held public office and has only a single-page website which is breathtaking in its brevity. Doug Sandage (G), like Kelly, hasn't held public office and has a tiny website bereft of any meaningful depth. What Sandage does have going for him is his experience as director of the Harris County Dispute Resolution Center. That, and the fact that he's liked by the Greens and the Austin Chronicle, is unfortunately all we have to go on in this race. (view Sandage's website)
U.S. Representative District 10: Lloyd Doggett (D)
Doggett made a point to attend Austin's Political Pedal ride in May, and addressed the assembled crowd with specifics of his efforts to support cycling and oppose the highway lobby (with specific opposition to the western alignment of S.H. 130). Doggett also cycles to work at the Capitol in Washington. Bicycles aside, Doggett is widely seen as a highly effective and progressive legislator on myriad other issues.
Railroad Commissioner: Gary
Railroad Commissioner, Unexpired Term: Charles L. Mauch (G)
We all know how the Democrats and Republicans are beholden to corporate interests, especially in this state, and that's an especially acute problem with the railroad commission, whose very job is to oversee industry. It should come as no surprise that the commission is dominated by the industries it purports to regulate. The only way out of this mess is to elect candidates who aren't puppets of corporate money. Also, railroads are going to become important again as oil supplies continue to dwindle and the price of gas continues to rise. When this transition starts kicking in, we'll rest easier with Green candidates on the railroad commission. (view Dugger's website) (view Mauch's website)
Travis County District Attorney: No endorsement
This one's just depressing. Incumbent Ronnie Earle (D) is best known for mishandling the Lacresha Murray case, and for bringing only light misdemeanor charges against an Austin police officer who raped a citizen who made a call for help, instead of felony rape charges. On the bicycle front, Earle hasn't given us any confidence either. (For example, in 1997, his grand jury failed to indict the driver who hit and killed Tom Churchill.) Unfortunately, Earle's opponent, Shane Phelps (R) hasn't provided any reason to believe that he'd be any better than Earle. In fact, Phelps' "tough on crime" stance actually sounds kind of threatening, when you consider that Austin crime is already at a record low, and when you consider that Phelps thinks Earle doesn't seek the death penalty often enough (in a state that already executes more of its citizens than nearly any other country, a disproportionate number of them minorities, and in which state the counsel provided to capital defendants is breathtakingly inadequate).
City Council 2000 summary (May-June). With no serious challengers, Mayor Watson is re-elected to a second term with 84% of the vote. (Lovable homeless transvestite Leslie Cochran pulls in 8%.) Bicyclist Raul Alvarez (whom we endorsed) won the Place 2 race against Rafael Quintanilla. In Place 5, developer Will Wynn squeaks by with just over 50% of the vote, escaping a runoff with Clare Barry. In the same race, cyclist Amy Babich pulls 5.6% of the vote. In Place 6, Danny Thomas, backed by millionaire ex-football great Hollywood Henderson, defeats incumbent Willie Lewis.
City Council Place 2. Bicyclist Raul Alvarez, whom we endorsed, narrowly defeated Rafael Quintanilla in the June 3, 2000 runoff for City Council (10,252 to 10,051). Read our interviews with the candidates.
Amy Babich, known to thousands of Austinites for her vitriolic pro-bike/anti-car letters in the Austin Chronicle, lost her bid for Place 5 in the May 2000 election for the Austin City Council as an underdog candidate. Clare Barry, also running for Place 5, promised to appoint Babich to a City commission should she (Barry) win. The election was won by developer Will Wynn, who squeaked by with just over 50% of the vote. Barry came in second, and Babich received only 5.6% of the vote, but does not come in last. (There were five candidates total.)
Charles Gandy, founder and former director of the Texas Bicycle Coalition, lost his 2000 bid for the U.S. Senate to fellow Texas Democrat Gene Kelly. Kelly will face incumbent Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison in November. Read our interview with Gandy.