Brother and sister face off in Austin District 3 runoff

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The upcoming holidays will be cold for one District 3 family. Incumbent Councilman “Pio” Renteria is defending his seat on Austin City Council against his sister, community organizer Susana Almanza. 

The two siblings were the largest vote-getters in a field of six during the November Election. Renteria received 48% – just shy of a majority win – and Almanza received 21%. The runoff election is December 11th. 

Renteria currently holds the seat for District 3, representing parts of east, central, and south Austin. 

This is the latest matchup for the long-standing sibling feud.

“My mom and dad are now in the spirit world. If they were here, they would really be after my brother,” Almanza told KXAN.

“People always ask me, ‘how’s Thanksgiving and Christmas,’ and we don’t have it anymore,” said Renteria in response.

The two say they’re polite when they find themselves in public but in private they rarely speak. 

“I get along good with the rest of the family. It’s just this one sister that – you know – we have different opinions,” said Renteria.

The fault line between the siblings is land development.

“Who is he shining the shoes for now? Is it the developers? Special interests? That’s a real big difference,” said Almanza.

This seat could shift power in city land development disputes. Earlier this year, a revamp of Austin’s land development code known as Code Next failed after intense political pushback. Next year, there will be another attempt to change rules determining what kind of housing can be built where.

Renteria backs policies encouraging more housing in the same amount of space: more apartments, duplexes, and multi-family homes. That code, mixed with regulations allowing low-income people to buy, he says, will curb the rising cost of living in the urban core.

“If we don’t do anything, yes, we’re going to preserve the neighborhoods but not the people. The people who are there are not going to be able to afford to live there,” said Renteria,”I’m all into preserving neighborhoods but you got to face reality.” 

Almanza, on the other hand, was one of three authors of the alternative development policy, they called “People’s Plan.”  She wants to expand historic districts, slow down development and add city regulations allowing people priced out to return. 

“What we need to do is change the direction and you have to have somebody that lives it and understands it,” said Alamanza.

This isn’t the first time voters have weighed in on the siblings.

In the 2014 general election Almanza received more votes than Renteria: 21% to 19%. However, during the run-off Renteria came from behind and defeated Almanza: 60% to 40%.

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