Incumbent council member Kathie Tovo defeated three challengers in Tuesday’s election to once again represent District 9 on the Austin City Council.
“It’s really been an extraordinary honor to serve the people of Austin in this capacity, and I look forward to continuing to do so over the next four years,” Tovo said at her election night event. “This is a very exciting time for the City of Austin, and it’s also a challenging one.”
With 53 percent of the vote, Tovo came out on top. Challenger Danielle Skidmore, a transportation engineer, trailed 21 percentage points behind. Both Tovo and Skidmore finished significantly ahead of their opponents, who received less than 20 percent of the vote between them.
In her third term, Tovo said she will focus on ending homelessness and promoting affordable housing in the district, which encompasses downtown, West Campus and parts of South Austin.
“We still have some great challenges ahead of us, and one I care about and work in partnership with many of you on is ending homeless in this community for every individual who’s currently sleeping on the streets or in unstable and unsafe housing,” Tovo said. “I’m hopeful that in these years ahead, we can forge a path that works well for everybody and preserves what we love about this city … but also embraces the need for change in ways that are appropriate.”
Skidmore, a transgender woman, would have been the first transgender person elected to public office in Texas. In her concession speech, she said she will continue fighting for the LGBTQ community.
“Change is hard,” Skidmore said. “It doesn’t come easy. It doesn’t come quickly, but we keep fighting for what we know and what we believe in. Austin is my home, and we’re not going anywhere. We’re going to keep fighting. We’re going to keep fighting for representation … we are going to keep fighting for equality for the LGBTQIA community.”
At Tovo’s event, social worker Kurt Cadena-Mitchell said he appreciates Tovo’s work on behalf of the city’s residents.
“Kathie Tovo is a fighter for workers and their families,” Cadena-Mitchell said. “I’ve always been able to depend on Kathie to fight for social and economic justice, even when it wasn’t popular, even when powerful interest opposed it. She has a backbone, she’s fought for what’s right, and I know she’ll continue to do that.”
In District 3, which includes parts of East and Southeast Austin, incumbent Council Member Sabino “Pio” Renteria and challenger Susana Almanza could advance to a Dec. 11 runoff. With 48 percent of the vote at press time, Renteria was short of the majority total needed to avoid the runoff. Almanza, Renteria’s sister and director of a local nonprofit, had 22 percent at press time.
The top two vote-getters in District 1, which encompasses central, east and northeast Austin, are also headed to a runoff. Mariana Salazar and Natasha Harper-Madison led the pack in a crowded race to replace council member Ora Houston, who did not seek re-election. Houston is Austin’s only African-American representative on the Council.
At press time, Salazar had a narrow lead over Harper-Madison, and each had about a quarter of the total votes cast.