AUSTIN (KXAN) — There are still more opportunities for Austin voters to cast their ballots in 2020, as the December runoff elections for local races draw closer.
Both the races for the Austin City Council District 6 seat in northwest Austin and the District 10 seat in west Austin are headed to runoff elections with incumbents vying to keep their seats.
These particular races went to a runoff because no candidate won more than 50% of the vote in the November election, which means the top two vote-getting candidates have to compete against each other in December.
Austin City Council Member Jimmy Flannigan, the District 6 incumbent, received 40.2% of the votes in the November election and will compete in a runoff against Mackenzie Kelly, who received 33.4% of the votes. (A little more than half of this district’s residents live in Travis County, while the rest live in Williamson County, so these percentages reflect the totals from both counties.)
Austin City Council Member Alison Alter, the incumbent in District 10, received 34.2% of the vote and will compete in a runoff election against Jennifer Virden, who received 25.4% of the vote.
Early voting for the December runoffs begins this week on Dec. 3, with Election Day happening on Dec. 15. You can find voting locations in Travis County for early voting or on Election Day at this link. All these candidates will be speaking at a virtual forum Monday evening, which will be streamed live by the city.
Council Member Jimmy Flannigan has represented District 6 on the council since 2016. He is the former president of the LGBT Chamber of Commerce and an organizer with the Northwest Austin Coalition. He currently chairs the council’s Public Safety Committee, which is moving forward the council’s resolutions on police reform and racial justice. He notes that affordability and equity as two of his top concerns.
“Look, I am very excited. We are the top vote-getter in District 6. We are headed into the runoff with all of the momentum and the support of my community, and I am excited to take this to the voters in December, and I am confident that we will win,” Flannigan told KXAN while at a small, backyard election watch party he attended on the night of the November election.
“It is always easier to oppose actions. It’s always easier to fight change than it is to offer your own solutions,” Flannigan continued. “And what we are seeing in this election tonight is that this community, that District 6 is ready to move forward with the bold leadership that I have provided.”
Mackenzie Kelly ran on her experience as a volunteer firefighter and president of Take Back Austin, which is pushing to reinstate the ban on public camping in Austin. The group accuses the current city leadership of “poor policies and mismanagement of the city.”
Kelly opposes the council’s cuts to the Austin Police Department budget and says public safety is a priority that should be “fully funded.” She was endorsed by the Travis County Republican Party, Texas Republican Party chair Allen West and former Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell.
“As a native Austinite, I know what this district needs. I have been here my entire life and public safety is paramount,” Kelly said at the Travis County Republicans election night event. “The runoff results show that this district cares about public safety and they care about the homelessness issue, and we are going to solve those problems once I am elected.”
Flannigan has been in a runoff election before. In 2014, Flannigan lost to Don Zimmerman for the District 6 seat in a runoff by just 191 votes. However, Flannigan went on to win against Zimmerman in 2016 by a large enough margin that a runoff was not needed.
Council Member Alison Alter has represented District 10 since 2017 and emphasized her experience as a mother, small business owner, educator and community advocate in her campaign. An economist with a Ph.D. from Harvard and B.A. from Stanford, she believes her record on City Council throughout the past three years and her experience are needed to address the current issues the city faces.
“I want to thank all of the many enthusiastic supporters of my re-election. Tonight I earned more votes than any council member with multiple challengers. We now enter the second phase of the election. I am confident that the residents of District 10 will continue to support my leadership and choose my proven experience. District 10 deserves an honest, hardworking leader standing up for them at City Hall, and I believe they recognize my commitment to our community.”Austin City Council Member Alison Alter in a statement on November 3
“This is a time for leadership and proven experience,” she said in a virtual forum hosted by the League of Women Voters and ATXN in September. “I believe we can turn the current crises into catalysts for solving problems that have challenged our community for too long … I am proud of my record working to make Austin a place where all can thrive and feel safe.”
In her campaigning, Alter placed a high priority on issues such as the pandemic, unemployment, systemic racism and climate change. Speaking on her record, she stressed that she voted against CodeNEXT (a recent, unsuccessful attempt by the city to overhaul the land development code) and called the land development code “deeply flawed.” She also noted her efforts to improve the city’s response to sexual assault investigations, police oversight, wildfire prevention and emergency medical services.
Jennifer Virden ran to the right of the current Austin City Council, pitching herself as a conservative owner of a real estate brokerage firm without a traditional political background. She voiced her staunch opposition to Project Connect, the multibillion-dollar rail initiative passed by voters in November, citing its increase in taxes.
“We are so excited to have made the runoff! Our volunteers, contributors, and supporters are so enthusiastic and tireless – absolutely incredible! We’re hitting the ground running tomorrow to make sure we win on December 15th.”Austin City Council Candidate Jennifer Virden in a statement November 3
Virden also said she opposes “defunding the police” and intends to fully restore the money that the City Council diverted away from the Austin Police Department this year.
“I’m not a polished politician,” she said. “I’m just like everyone else in D10 who are sick and tired of the current city council’s flagrant disregard for the best interests of Austin.”