AUSTIN (KXAN) — A dense pool of candidates looking to sit on Austin City Council’s dais next year dwindled to eight following Tuesday night’s election. Austin voters will head back to the polls in December to decide three city council seats and finalize the race for mayor.
It could make for a historic makeup of the city’s highest body.
“It’s gonna look a lot like our city in terms of gender diversity, in terms of racial diversity, in terms of frankly, we’ve got some political diversity too,” Steven Pedigo, an urban policy expert and director of the LBJ Urban Lab, said.
If elected, Rep. Celia Israel would be the first Latina mayor of Austin. The city hasn’t had a female mayor since Carole Keeton held the seat in the 70s.
In all of the races headed to a runoff for Austin City Council, voters will see a Latina on their ballot.
“Next year, in a few months, I could be sitting across from maybe one more Latina, maybe a couple others, maybe four other Latinas! There is a scenario where we have a majority, minority council is exciting for me personally,” Latina Council Member Vanessa Fuentes said.
Advancing to a runoff are: District 3’s José Velásquez and Daniela Silva. For the District 5 race, Stephanie Bazan and Ryan Alter will vie again for their seat, while the District 9 runoff will be between Zohaib Qadri and Linda Guerrero. Both Council Members Paige Ellis and Natasha Harper-Madison will keep their seats.
For Fuentes, the possible makeup of the dais is encouraging. Fuentes said in the more than 100-year history of the body, she’s only the second Latina to hold an Austin City Council seat. In 2020, she was the only Latina running citywide.
“I was the only Latina that ran and I was only one of two women of color who ran for office citywide and we had about 20 candidates running, it was a little lonely,” she reflected on her 2020 bid.