Austin city council runoff candidates clash in ‘friendly’ virtual forums Monday


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two forums with Austin City Council candidates in runoff elections will begin at 6 p.m. Monday.

Candidates for Austin City Council Districts 6 (in northwest Austin) and 10 (in west Austin) will participate in a “friendly debate-style” virtually, sponsored by the city’s Ethics Review Commission and Austin’s chapter of the League of Women Voters.

The forum will begin with District 6 candidates: incumbent Council Member Jimmy Flannigan and his challenger Mackenzie Kelly.

Next up will be a debate with the District 10 candidates: incumbent Council Member Alison Alter and her challenger Jennifer Virden. Each forum will last between 45-50 minutes.

The forums will be streamed live on the city’s ATXN.TV in both English and Spanish, and it will also be on cable channel 6 and channel 99 on AT&T U-verse. They will also be available via radio at 88.7 FM.

A graphic from the League of Women Voters of the Austin Area and the City of Austin about the Austin City Council candidate forum happening November 30 in advance of the December runoff elections.

How the debate will work

Carol Eckelkamp of the League of Women Voters Austin Area will be moderating the debate.

LWVAA explained in an email to KXAN Monday that the debate will be divided into subject areas: public safety (including fire, police, and EMS), land development, city services, and transportation. Candidates’ responses to questions will be limited to 90 seconds and rebuttals will be limited to 60 seconds.

The debate may also include a lighting round of short questions and answer, with responses limited to 60 seconds, LWVAA said.

Candidates will not have an opening statement, but they will be allowed a closing statement, where they are instructed to speak about themselves rather than making charges or attacks at other candidates. If a candidate violates this rule, LWVAA said, the moderator may offer the attacked candidate additional time to respond.

“We look forward to a lively discussion as these 4 candidates have different views on some of our topics. This format is freer flowing than our past forums. LWVAA feels debates can highlight the health of a democracy and show that political rivals, though they have differences, can treat each other with mutual respect.”

League of Women Voters Austin Area statement

A city spokesperson tells KXAN that Monday’s forum is the only city-sponsored candidate forum before the run-off election for the 2020 city council candidates. The city added that the city’s ethics rules do not apply to candidate forums and that the LWVAA’s guidelines will govern the debate.

Ed Fudman, who manages Virden’s campaign, said the LWVAA forum would be the only one Virden participates in as “that’s the main forum, its the most watched one.”

KUT, Austin’s NPR station, is working to assemble 2 virtual candidate forums for the runoff elections but has not solidified the details yet.

Photos of the candidates facing off in December runoff elections for Austin City Council Districts 10 and 6. For District 6: incumbent Council Member Jimmy Flannigan (upper left) faces off against Mackenzie Kelly (upper right). For district 10: incumbent Austin City Council Member Alison Alter (lower left) faces off against Jennifer Virden (lower right). All photos courtesy of each candidate’s respective campaign.

When to vote

Runoff election day is Dec. 15, and early voting begins Dec. 3. You can learn more about locations for early voting and election day voting locations for the December runoffs in Travis County here.

A map of all the Austin City Council districts. District 6 is the green district on the upper left. District 10 is the Lavender district below District 6. Image Courtesy City of Austin mapping.
A map of the Austin City Council districts. District 6 is the darker green district on the upper left. District 10 is the lighter green district below District 6. Image Courtesy City of Austin mapping.

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