AUSTIN — Five of the 10 seats on the Austin City Council dais will be filled by candidates elected in the November election.
One familiar face is returning for certain. Ann Kitchen, who represents District 5 in southwest Austin, is running unopposed for her second term.
The same can't be said for the other two sitting city council members running for re-election.
Sabino "Pio" Renteria currently represents District 3 in East Austin. Five Austinites are challenging him, including one he beat out four years ago. And that's not just any candidate, it's his younger sister, community activist Susanna Almanza. The two faced off in a run-off for the seat four years ago.
Mayor Pro-Tem Kathie Tovo had to put in some work to get on the ballot this year. Tovo was first elected to the Austin City Council in 2011, back when all the members were elected At-Large. When Austin shifted to a 10-district system, Tovo won again. Technically, she served two terms, which is the limit in Austin. But theoretically, the first term was under a system that no longer exists. Rather than pose the legal question, Tovo supporters signed a petition to put her on the ballot. Three other people are challenging her though to represent District 9, which includes Downtown Austin and parts of the University of Texas.
That brings us to the two seats that are guaranteed to be filled with fresh faces. Council Member Ora Houston decided not to seek re-election after her first four-year term. The race to represent East Austin's District 1 has drawn seven challengers, the most of any district race. Among the challengers are Lewis Conway Jr., who was once convicted of voluntary manslaughter, and Vincent Harding, the former president of the Travis County Democratic Party. With seven candidates, the race is expected to go to a runoff.
And the lone Conservative Republican on the Austin Council, Ellen Troxclair, also announced she isn't seeking re-election after her first term representing District 8 in West Austin.
Four candidates are running to replace her. Troxclair has endorsed the lone Republican in the race, Frank Ward.