Council challengers get big bucks boost

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Mackenzie Kelly (left) and Jennifer Virden will split the money in the Austin Fair Campaign Finance Fund, getting $26,443 each.

Candidates Kelly and Virden each to get $26,443 from Austin Fair Campaign Finance Fund

Jannette Goodall
Jannette Goodall

District 6 candidate Mackenzie Kelly and District 10 candidate Jennifer Virden met the qualifications to receive money from the city fund established to reward candidates who agree to observe limits on campaign spending, said City Clerk Jannette Goodall, who oversees distribution of the funds.

This is especially important for these challengers in the runoffs because the incumbents piled up huge fundraising leads before the November 3 election. The runoff election will be held December 15, 2020.

Jimmy Flannigan

District 6 incumbent Jimmy Flannigan collected $131,000 in contributions through October 5, the latest reporting period, while Kelly had raised slightly less than $50,000.

Of the four candidates running for District 6, Flannigan got 14,180 votes in the November 3 election for 40.22 percent. Kelly got 11,775 votes for 33.4 percent.

Alison Alter
Alison Alter

District 10 incumbent Alison Alter had nearly $182,000 in contributions through October 5 while Virden had raised a little more than $52,000. Virden also loaned her campaign $50,000.

Of the six active candidates running for the District 10 seat, Alter got 15,539 votes for 34.2 percent. Virden got 11,553 votes for 25.43 percent.

Contract imposes limits with escape clause

By signing the Fair Campaign Contract, a City Council candidate agrees to neither accept nor spend more than $75,000 for the general election campaign and no more than $50,000 in a runoff. Further, a candidate’s campaign expenditures from personal funds may not exceed 5 percent of the expenditure limits.

However, per City Charter Section 2-2-17, if a candidate signs the contract and any opponent does not sign it, or signs it and exceeds limits on voluntary contribution and expenditures, then the signer “need not comply with the voluntary contribution and expenditure limits….”

In the District 6 field of candidates incumbent Alison Alter did not sign the contract. That’s why Virden—despite having loaned her campaign $50,000 on September 23, 2020—will be able to pick up a big check as soon as the City Council canvasses the vote today, Goodall said.

In the District 6 election, incumbent Jimmy Flannigan did not sign the contract and his runoff opponent Mackenzie Kelly did.

City Charter Section 2-2-62 states that money in the Austin Fair Campaign Finance Fund is to be kept in a separate account. That money comes mainly from lobbyist registration fees and filing fees paid by candidates for mayor and city council.

Only Districts 6 and 10 are having runoff elections. Vanessa Fuentes won the District 2 seat being vacated by newly elected County Attorney Delia Garza. District 4 incumbent Greg Casar and District 7 incumbent Leslie Pool won reelection without a runoff.

Runoff details

Early in-person voting for the December 15 runoff starts December 3 and ends December 11.

The League of Women Voters, Austin Area, will moderate a candidate forum for the District 6 and District 10 candidates November 30 at 6pm. The forum will be televised on ATXN TV, cable TV channel 6, and on AT&T U-Verse Channel 99.

The forum will also be broadcast on KAZI-FM 88.7.

Trust indicators: Ken Martin has been covering elections and doing investigative reporting in the three-county Austin metro area since 1981. You can read more about Ken on the About page.

Links to related Bulldog election coverage:

Underdog Fuentes wins open D2 seat, November 4, 2020

Down to the wire: Jimmy Flannigan and his challengers, October 30, 2020

Council candidates raised nearly $1.2 million, October 27, 2020

Land battle: D7 candidates Pool vs Witt, October 22, 2020

Alter’s odds against winning, five to one, October 21, 2020

Three candidates vie for District 2 council seat, October 15, 2020

Council candidates so far raised $930,000, October 7, 2020

Transit tax draws attack from the left, October 2, 2020

Council Member Flannigan’s bad debts, September 24, 2020

Council candidates have voting records too, September 18, 2020

Developer dollars flow to favored candidates, August 27, 2020