ATXelerator announces candidates

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The Center for Austin’s Future, a business-aligned group that trains and supports candidates who are friendly to development/density, has announced the 26 “future-focused” people who will participate in ATXelerator, its annual candidate training program. Here are the participants:

District 1:
Seth Collins, project manager for Treverity Inc; technical lead at US Ignite for Austin.
Andrew Stevens, Product Manager, Quest Software
District 2:
Andy Cates, general counsel, Texas Nurses Association
Marco Mancillas, government relations consultant
District 3:
Michael Drohan, technical recruitment consultant, Austin Fraser
David Glenn, government relations director, Home Builders Association of Greater Austin
Ed Ishmael, attorney/owner, Ishmael Law Firm
District 4:
Joseph Benigno, CEO, Pure Basin Services
Manuel Munoz, campaign canvasser, Worker Defense/United Professional Organizers
District 5:
Sophie Winkleman, executive assistant, Athena Health
District 6:
Tram-Anh Huynh, marketing strategy consultant
Nicholas Lealos, assistant general counsel, Texas Workforce Commission
District 7:
Juliana Boswell, geopolitical researcher & operations manager, Stratfor
District 8:
Edgar Farrera, director of sustainability, Circuit of the Americas
Sean Walters, energy professional/global business development and project manager
District 9:
Jeff Cardenas, director of innovation, Apptronik
Witt Featherston, architect, Moontower Design Build Max Ginsburg, founder & president,
The Sephira Group
Dan Keshet, data scientist, Qcue
Tanner Long, legislative affairs specialist, Texas Association of Realtors
Michael Searle, executive director, The Austin Civic Fund
Josiah Stevenson, senior analyst, Teacher Retirement System of Texas
District 10:
Greta Goldsby, partner, The Drenner Group Law Firm
John Sepehri, special counsel, Foley Gardere
Pierre Touma, co-founder & CEO, Neuvatek Inc.
Marilyn Wilson, principal, Marilyn Willson Consulting


I know some of these folks, but not most of them. What’s clear is that they represent a wide ideological range. You’ve got the libertarian Michael Searle, former aide to Ellen Troxclair and the head of the failed Proposition K campaign. And then you’ve got Manuel Munoz, a labor activist who has worked with Workers Defense Fund and the United Professional Organizers, a union for employees of campaigns and activist groups. There’s definitely at least a couple of dedicated urbanists, including Josiah Stevenson and Dan Keshet.

This ideological variety is in line with how CAF described itself at the beginning of the year: as a group focused on promoting candidates across the political spectrum who will support density/transit-oriented development. It is not in line with the group’s website, which describes its mission with a series of vague, conservative tropes.

No surprise to see an abundance of participation in District 9. Kind of surprised to see only one person from District 5. But then again, Ann Kitchen didn’t even draw a challenger this year. District 5 (home of AustinPolitics.NET) is a quirky district…I’ll have to write more about this in the future.

On Facebook, Ed Espinoza, the executive director of Progress Texas as well as the significant other of incoming CM Paige Ellis, highlights something else about the ATXelerator class of 2019:

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A little context: Espinoza is the executive director of Progress Texas as well as the significant other of incoming CM Paige Ellis. CAF supported Ellis’ Republican opponent in the runoff election, Frank Ward, despite Ellis putting much greater emphasis on urbanist land use/transportation philosophy and Ward saying he was concerned about density “destroying the character” of neighborhoods.

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