Tuesday, November 1, 2016

2016 Austin/Travis County November Candidate Endorsements

"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
Proverbs 29:2

[Author's Note: For races where we don't offer endorsements, our longstanding rule of thumb in local elections is to take the Austin Chronicle's endorsements and  vote AGAINST whoever they endorse.]

Austin City Council:

District 6: Don Zimmerman (Far Northwest Austin)

In two years in office, despite being in the distinct minority, Don Zimmerman has successfully stopped a hostile annexation, fought multiple municipal level attacks on the first amendment, and delivered traffic congestion solutions for a fraction of what the city bureaucracy proposed.

He's also one of only two council members to have voted against the ride-sharing and short-term rental regulations that have caused so much discord; if the council majority had listened to Don Zimmerman, most of the unpleasantness of the past year could have been avoided.

Finally, Don Zimmerman gives a voice at city hall to those who have been abused by the city bureaucracy (and, let's not kid ourselves, Don Zimmerman is the only reason Marc Ott left town).

District 7: Natalie Gauldin (North Central Austin; Burnet Rd./Parmer Ln. corridors)

In a city that needs to build 150,000 units of new housing over the next decade, Natalie Gauldin is a tenacious advocate for new housing supply.  She has the slings and arrows to prove it.  Just last week, her political opponents launched an over the top smear website against her (Author's Note: Austin Transit Blog has a through rebuke of the allegations here.)

Natalie is also a vote to repeal the ridesharing and STR regulations; obviously, the incumbent voted for both.

On taxation, we've had more productive discussions with Natalie than we've ever had with the incumbent; we don't expect to agree with her on every single issue, but she's light years better than the incumbent.

Distict 10: Rob Walker (West Austin)

This is a last minute addition, and a bit of a longshot, but we met Rob Walker over the weekend and liked what we heard.

Rob is the only viable candidate in this race to oppose the Mayor's "corridor" bond and he supports repealing the ride-sharing regulations.

Rob remains a work in progress on housing issues, but there are no perfect candidates in this race and Rob Walker offers, by far, the best issue mix of any of them.

AGAINST: Prop 1 "Mobility Bond" (aka. Adler's "Corridor" Bond)

This thing costs far too much to deliver far too little.  The city transportation department simply isn't capable of pulling off this complex of a project in anything remotely resembling a competent or timely manner.  And the process by which the bond package was developed was terminally shady.

And that's before you get into the degree to which this package is, in reality, a corrupt "redevelopment" scheme.

Read our archive about this package here.

Austin ISD Trustees:

No endorsements.  They all look terrible.  See the note about the Austin Chronicle above.

Austin Community College Trustees:

Place 9: Jeremy Story

An entrepreneur and philanthropist, Jeremy Story has built successful enterprises in both the for and non-profit sectors.

We heard Jeremy outline his pro-student, pro-taxpayer agenda for ACC a couple weeks ago.  Suffice to say, an organization that currently sees only 4% of its students move on to four year colleges has considerable room for improvement.  He also supports streamlining the process by which student may obtain certifications in skilled trades.

On the pro-taxpayer side, Jeremy Story is the only candidate running for the ACC board (IN ANY PLACE) who supports a moratorium on tax hikes.  This is important because if there's a single member of the board raising heck during the budget process, that will attract the attention of the media.  Case in point: Don Zimmerman.

Other places: No endorsements, but....
We haven't done our own homework, but we've heard reasonably positive things about Douglas Gibbons in place 6 and Michael Lewis in place 4 from ACC sources.
Travis County Races:

District Attorney: Maura Phelan

Maura Phelan has over 20 years of criminal law experience, her opponent last practiced criminal law in the 1980's; Maura Phelan is the only candidate for District Attorney who has the basic qualifications for the office.

Beyond qualifications, Maura Phelan wants to reduce the backlog of mental health cases that keep vulnerable citizens in jail by default.  Currently, the Travis County DA only has one attorney overseeing 10,000 mental health cases.  This is abhorrent.

Finally, Maura Phelan will end the disgraceful criminalization of political differences which the Travis County DA's office has become notorious over the past few decades.

Sheriff: Joe Martinez

Joe Martinez is the only thing standing between us and a nightmarish outbreak of politicized identity politics in the Travis County Sheriff's office.

Similar to Maura Phelan, Martinez also wants to focus on mental health to keep these vulnerable citizens away from violent criminals.

Then, of course, there's that whole second amendment thing.

Commissioner's Court, Precinct 3: Gerald Daugherty

We supported his opponent in the primary, and some of our misgivings remain, but we have no doubt that Gerald will be light years better than whatever hack the D's are running against him.

And it doesn't hurt that he's produced the best campaign commercial of this entire election cycle.

State House of Representatives:

District 46 (East Austin/Manor/Pflugerville):  Gabriel Nila

Gabriel has been doing the Lord's work against dramatic odds in this longest of longshot districts.

He has been aided in this quest by running against a multi-decade incumbent who can't seem to stop tripping over her own corruption.  This past weekend, we learned about another sweetheart contract she had obtained for herself and her family from Austin ISD.  Now she says she wants to retire early next year which will enable her to milk the state's retirement system one last time.

The only way to halt this shenanigan (Sidenote: Besides abolishing state pensions for legislators) is to deny the incumbent another term by voting for Gabriel Nila this November.

Bottom Line: A lot of people who vote for president aren't going to vote in anything else on the ballot.  It's what political science types call 'undervoting.'  But down ballot races are where real political power is held and they are often EXTREMELY close.

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