Gallo, Alter contest in District 10 nears finish line


The race to represent District 10 has grown increasingly contentious.

Council Member Sheri Gallo captured 48 percent in November election, just shy of majority needed to win.

However, District 10 challenger Alison Alter has managed to score major fundraising success.

After five months of campaigning and more than $300,000 spent by the two camps, the contentious race to represent West Austin’s District 10 on the Austin City Council will be decided in Tuesday’s runoff.

The race has grown ferocious in its closing weeks as the campaigns of Council Member Sheri Gallo and challenger Alison Alter, a one-time Gallo appointee to the parks board, blanketed mailboxes throughout the district and attended forums to make their closing arguments.

The game for both: Try to turn out as many voters as possible in what is expected to be a low-turnout contest. This is Austin’s only municipal race that went to a runoff this fall.

Gallo had the strongest showing in November’s four-person race, with 48 percent of the vote, just shy of the majority needed to win. However, Alter raised more money during most of the runoff campaign period, the most recent reports show. She also received a $64,000 boost from the city’s public campaign financing fund.

From the get-go, the debate between Alter and Gallo focused on Austin’s explosive growth and how to handle the city’s housing shortage and congestion problems.

That debate centered on two large and contentious planned mixed-use developments: the Grove at Shoal Creek, where developer ARG Bull Creek recently reached a deal with the surrounding neighborhoods, and Austin Oaks, where a deal was also reached between the developer and surrounding neighborhoods that downsized the development by a third.

Alter opposed both projects, saying they warranted “D’s.” Gallo supported both and argued that not growing simply isn’t an option in Austin.

Both, however, favored Mayor Steve Adler’s $720 million transportation bond, which easily passed in November.

The two candidates have pursued different strategies in the closing weeks of the campaign.

Though the council race is a nonpartisan election, Alter sought the local Democratic Party’s endorsement and is attempting to tie her campaign to national events. New fliers and advertisements argue that a ballot for her is an opportunity for Austin voters to oppose the recent election of Donald Trump as president.

“Disgusted?” asks one mailer supporting Alter, featuring an image of the president-elect. “Austin Democrats, you can deliver the first blow.”

(Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won the vote in District 10 by a 2-1 ratio.)

The Travis County Republican Party has circulated a flier slamming Alter and supporting Gallo as the “only proven fiscal conservative” — even though Gallo previously has bristled at being labeled a Republican.

Meanwhile, the incumbent’s campaign has focused on the challenger. One flier attacked Alter’s attendance as Gallo’s appointee on the Parks and Recreation Board (it claimed she got an F for attendance, which PolitiFact rated as “Pants on Fire”) and Alter’s decision to take public financing for the runoff (it claimed Alter “exploited” a loophole to get the money, which PolitiFact rated as Half-True).

And as the race approaches the finish line, there have been dueling and disputed charges of misdeeds:

An Alter supporter brought an ethics complaint against a Gallo appointee to the Zoning and Platting Commission, charging conflict of interest — but the complaint fell apart after the Statesman found it conflated two similarly named women. A Gallo supporter filed a complaint with the Post Office last week, alleging an unidentified Alter supporter illegally stuffed mailboxes with fliers.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Politics

PolitiFact: Pence points to nonexistent border terrorists
PolitiFact: Pence points to nonexistent border terrorists

Vice President Mike Pence says terrorists are getting caught at the U.S.-Mexico border day after day. In his Feb. 17 remarks in Dallas, Pence mentioned his visit the day before to the port at the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge in Hidalgo, a border town in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. “We’ve made progress but we still have...
Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates pleads guilty in Mueller investigation
Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates pleads guilty in Mueller investigation

Rick Gates, a former aide in President Donald Trump's campaign, pleaded guilty to making false statements and conspiring against the United States on Friday, making him the fifth person to enter a guilty plea in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
As Donald Trump Jr. drums up business in India, some ask what’s being sold
As Donald Trump Jr. drums up business in India, some ask what’s being sold

Donald Trump Jr., who has spent the week in India pitching new luxury high-rises that bear his family’s name, took the stage before a crowd of about 200 on Thursday. “Building a Better Mumbai,” the banner behind him proclaimed.  “We’re actually delivering true luxury,” Trump told the guests, who were greeted...
Sen. Marco Rubio finds himself at center of gun debate, again
Sen. Marco Rubio finds himself at center of gun debate, again

When a gunman slaughtered 49 people at an Orlando nightclub in 2016, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., described it as a moment of revelation — a tragedy so grave that it helped prompt his decision to seek a second term.  A year and a half later, with no gun violence legislation having been enacted in the interim, Rubio is again at the center of...
Why this gun debate is different from the rest
Why this gun debate is different from the rest

Around 2:30 p.m. on Valentine’s Day, President Donald Trump was in the study off the Oval Office when John F. Kelly, his chief of staff, arrived with news of a school shooting in Florida. Trump shook his head, according to an aide, and muttered, “Again.”  Mark Barden was visiting a playground named for his 7-year-old son killed...
More Stories