Council candidates so far raised $930,000

HomeElectionsCampaign FinanceCouncil candidates so far raised $930,000

District 10 candidates pulled in 43 percent of all contributions

The 19 candidates running for five seats on the Austin City Council have so far netted nearly $931,000 in contributions.

Alison Alter

The District 10 race accounted for upwards of half of all funds raised so far with more than $400,000. Incumbent Alison Alter has raised nearly half of all District 10 contributions netting nearly $182,000.

Though Alter received far more contributions than her challengers, three of them are not sitting still. Although lagging Alter by nearly a hundred thousand dollars, Pooja Sethi has raised nearly $86,000. She is the only District 10 challenger who started raising money last year. She also loaned her campaign $5,000.

Robert Thomas

Robert Thomas pulled in nearly $80,000 for the District 10 race despite not filing to run until August 14. What’s also notable about Thomas is that—so far at least—he has not loaned his campaign any money. That’s a sharp contrast to his 2014 run for District 10, when he jumped in feet first and immediately loaned his campaign $100,000. After he placed third in the general election and missed the runoff in 2014 he recouped nearly $57,000 of that loan but still wound up with losing more than $43,000 of his personal investment.

District 10 candidate Jennifer Virden, who filed to run August 17, raised more than $52,000. She also loaned her campaign $50,000.

Belinda Greene raised $3,000.

Bennett Easton reported receiving no contributions although he spent $330 on his campaign.

Noel Tristan filed for a place on the District 10 ballot but then withdrew. However it was too late to get his name off the ballot.

District 6 fundraising

The District 6 contest features three challengers to incumbent Jimmy Flannigan. He has gained a big financial advantage by raising $131,000 so far.

Jimmy Flannigan

As the Bulldog reported August 27, through June 30 Flannigan got nearly 37 percent of his donations from developers. That’s a bigger push by developers for his reelection than District 4 incumbent Greg Casar (32 percent) and District 2 candidate David Chincanchan (almost 28 percent).

Flannigan has already burned through $75,000 on his reelection campaign. That’s more than double what any other 2020 candidate has spent so far. Yet he still has more than $53,000 in cash on  hand.

Mackenzie Kelly

District 6 opponent Mackenzie Kelly pulled in nearly $50,000. She ran for District 6 in the 2014 election too, placing fifth that year. Not surprising since she raised a grand total of just $125 for that campaign.

Jennifer Mushtaler, who waited until August 7 to file to run, raised more than $32,000.

Dee Harrison, who filed to run August 13, has raised $1,400.

The four District 6 candidates raised a combined total of nearly $215,000. They had almost half of that amount, $104,000 in cash on hand.

District 2 funding edge goes to Chincanchan

David Chincanchan

Four candidates are vying for the open District 2 seat (vacated by Delia Garza, who was elected Travis County attorney). They have raised a combined total of more than $137,000. To run for office Chincanchan took a leave of absence from his job as executive assistant to District 3 Council Member Sabino “Pio” Renteria. He leads the District 2 pack with more than $85,000 on contributions.

Vanessa Fuentes

Only opponent Vanessa Fuentes is competing with nearly $49,000 in contributions. That’s a little more than 57 percent of what Chincanchan raised.

Casey Ramos, who didn’t file to run until August 17, raised just over $3,700.

Alex Strenger was one of six challengers to incumbent mayor Steve Adler’s reelection in 2018. He got 1 percent of the votes while Adler swamped all others with 59 percent of the votes in the general election.

This year Strenger filed August 17 to run for the District 2 council seat. He failed to file his first campaign finance report that was due October 5.

Strenger also failed to file both a Personal Financial Statement and a Statement of Financial Information. So did Ramos and District 4 candidate Ramesses II Setepenre. Public information requests filed to obtain PFS  and SFI for all candidates failed to produce them for these three candidates.

Local Government Code Section 145.010(b) requires the Austin City Attorney to send candidates who fail to file a Personal Financial Statement a certified letter notifying them of this failure. If the candidate then fails to file a PFS before the 30th day after the date such notice is received, the candidate is civilly liable to the city for an amount not to exceed $1,000.

The Austin Bulldog‘s public information request filed September 25 to obtain copies of the city attorney’s notification letters is still pending.

Incumbent leads District 4 fundraising  

Greg Casar

Casar was 25 years of age when he first got elected in 2014—the youngest person ever to capture a council seat. He won reelection in 2016 without a runoff by garnering 61 percent of the votes.

In his bid for a second reelection in 2020, Casar drew two opponents and has raised nearly $82,000.

Louis Herrin

Casar’s main opponent is Louis C. Herrin III. Herrin was one of eight candidates who ran for District 4 in 2014, placing seventh in an eight-person field. Herrin ran against Casar again in 2016, placing last in a three-man contest.

Ramesses II Setepenre did not file a campaign finance report.

For Herrin’s third run he has raised more than $26,000. That’s not quite a third of what Casar gathered.

District 7 a low-budget contest

Leslie Pool

Incumbent Leslie Pool was first elected in 2014. She beat her opponent by a margin of 2:1 in a runoff. She drew just one opponent in 2016 and breezed to an easy win with 72 percent of the votes.

Morgan Witt

As in 2016, this year she again drew a single challenger, Morgan Witt.

Pool hasn’t pushed the envelope raising money. So far she raised much less than other incumbents seeking reelection. She accumulated more than $52,000 in contributions so far, while Witt has raised less than $16,000.

The final pre-election campaign finance reports are due October 26—eight days before the election.

This story was updated at 12:32pm November 17, 2020, to correct the spreadsheet, which contained an error in the total contributions accepted by Jimmy Flannigan through October 5, 2020. Also corrected entries for Robert Thomas and Jennifer Virden as to which candidates signed the Austin Fair Campaign Finance Contract (she signed, he did not).

Trust indicators:

Ken Martin has been covering local government, elections, and politics since 1981. See more about Ken on the About page.

Links to related documents:

All campaign finance reports referenced in this story are available for download on the Austin City Clerk’s website.

Campaign Finance Analysis for 2020 Election of 5 City Council Members through October 5, 2020 (Excel file)

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