It just occurred to me the other day that my Council member, Ann Kitchen, has yet to draw an opponent for her re-election contest this fall. That somewhat surprises me.
The district had 66,000 people during the 2010 census, and I’d bet it has added 10-15k since. That’s a pretty big population for there to not be at least one person ambitious or deranged enough to mount a campaign. Plus, the district seems to be politically diverse: my non-scientific analysis shows that it features healthy numbers of Hillary people, Bernie people and Republicans. It also likely has large numbers of people on both sides of the bitter debate over development and growth. Plus, it’s not like Kitchen didn’t ruffle any feathers during her first term; she just barely escaped facing a recall election.
So despite all of the factors that would tend to lead to at least a challenge, Kitchen is so far in the clear. I would credit some combination of the following:
- Bad year to run as a Republican.
- The Uber/Lyft drama is now ancient news.
- Kitchen has earned the trust of anti-growth neighborhood associations without earning quite as big of a “NIMBY” reputation among the urbanist crowd. Unlike Kathie Tovo, Leslie Pool and Alison Alter, Kitchen is not viewed as a “neighborhood character” warrior, but rather as a moderate who generally supports what the neighborhood groups in her district want but isn’t necessarily opposed to density.
- She has been both a reliable progressive and supported tax relief (homestead exemption, senior exemption) that appeals to the moderate/conservative crowd.
- She has aggressively advocated for her district, notably by getting Council to add two major South Austin corridors to the mobility bond.
- Pure luck.
So those are my thoughts on District 5. My thoughts on the other Council races soon to follow…