Alter edges Gallo out of council seat in runoff election

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Alison Alter ousted incumbent Sheri Gallo in the District 10 city council runoff election. Out of the five districts running for re-election, Gallo is the second incumbent to lose, following Council Member Don Zimmerman’s loss to Jimmy Flannigan.

Final results showed Alter winning 64 percent to 36 percent (9,442 to 5,315 votes), with thousands more voting early than on Tuesday.

At her victory party Tuesday night, Alter said she’ll focus on things like Code Next. “l’ll be really focused on big land use questions like the Grove and Austin Oaks and — in the forthcoming years — Muny, that are really important to people in District 10,” which covers most of West Austin.

She also said, responding to President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for the Environmental Protection Agency, that the city of Austin needs to take steps to preserve the environment where we may not get support from “national legislation.” Alter thanked Gallo for her service and a hard-fought campaign. “I’m looking forward to working with her and her many supporters on issues that we all care about in terms of affordability, and traffic and taxes,” she said.

KXAN has reached out to Council Member Gallo for a statement.

Sheri Gallo, left, and Alison Alter (Campaign Photos)

We spoke with Alter ahead of the election about what inspired her to run in the first place. “Right now there is a lot more representation of developer interest than there are of the people who live in our district. That’s a general feeling that I am hearing from people in the district,” Alter said.

That feeling is among the potential factors that pushed Gallo out, ushering in a new representative.

“The development decisions that we make have impacts on the quality of life of people who are here,” Alter told KXAN. Development is a big issue for District 10. For current examples, look no further than The Grove at Shoal Creek and Austin Oaks, planned unit developments (PUDs) that have drawn battle lines between neighbors and developers, though compromise has come a long way.

Alter says what’s crucial is making sure a bulk of the financial burden doesn’t fall to taxpayers, who may not even benefit from the projects.

“We can’t put all of the fees on the developers, but we need to make them more accountable. And we need to think about what are the costs of these developments down the line? Otherwise, the city is going to go bankrupt after a long time,” Alter said.

The self-described mom, entrepreneur, community advocate and longtime educator is also calling for greater transparency in city government.

“Right now if you want to follow your council person’s votes, you have to go back to the minutes and uncover it and figure out which reading and what not. You can’t just have some kind of easy way of finding out a report card of how they voted on big issues that you care about,” Alter said.

Alter will take office in January 2017.

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