Shade to stay in Place 3 runoff

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by STEVE ALBERTS / KVUE News

kvue.com

Posted on May 19, 2011 at 6:27 PM

Austin City Council Place 3 incumbent Randi Shade says she has got her groove back.

“The last few days have been more exciting and energizing than any time during this campaign,” Shade said.

During a news conference at City Hall, she told supporters, which included current and former elected officials, she is in it to win it. 

“The stakes are too high and the differences between me and my opponent too big  for us to quit this race,” explained Shade. “I think the most important differences between me and my opponent are about how we approach water security for the long term. I support building a new water treatment facility that Austin is in need of; one that is going to serve us now, as well into the future.”

In 2009, council member Shade was the swing vote on the council, siding with Mayor Leffingwell, and Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Martinez and council member Sheryl Cole to build the half billion dollar water treatment plant. That vote angered many environmentalists who believe the plant is too expensive and that the city should focus more on conservation.

When it comes to public safety, Shade supports hiring more firefighters, police, and paramedics. 

“I want to increase public safety; my opponent wants to decrease it,” Shade said.

“I am very supportive of public safety, fire, and EMS,” said Kathie Tovo.

Shade faces Kathie Tovo in the June 18 runoff. Tovo received 46 percent of the vote compared to Shade's 33 percent. 

At Tovo’s campaign headquarters, volunteers are busy. They too know the stakes are high.

“We are just making sure our message is getting out that we need a change at City Hall,” said Tovo.

Tovo is against Water Treatment Plant 4. She said she would not have voted for the project. 

“As I have said in the past to voters, I would not have voted for that project,” Tovo said. “I think it is a very costly one. It is underway and we need to protect Austinites investment in that project.”

Place 3 can often be the swing seat on the city council which is why council members are choosing sides.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Martinez, and council member Chris Riley support Shade, while council members Laura Morrison, Sheryl Cole, and Bill Spelman support Tovo.

Paul Saldana is the former chief of staff for Mayor Gus Garcia. He believes council member support shows the serious implications about the future growth and policy decisions facing Austin.

“There is a lot of anxiety about the outcome of the runoff,” said Saldana. “I think the council right now is really pro-business/pro-development council. I think council member Shade has been the swing vote on critical issues. There are a lot of cards on the table that will certainly set the tone of future policy for the city.”

Meantime, back at City Hall Council Member Shade says it will be up to voters to decide what direction to take the city.

“I believe the majority of us want a balanced approach to decision making,” Shade said. “That's what this race is about. This is our Austin. We choose its future by the votes we cast and the people we elect. That's why I am asking for your vote.”

The runoff election is June 18. Early voting starts June 6.

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