By JO CLIFTON, Austin Monitor
Incumbent District 10 City Council Member Alison Alter pulled out a win over her conservative challenger, Jennifer Virden, in Tuesday’s runoff election. The race was too close to call early in the evening, but at the end of the night Alter came away with a 587-vote victory, giving her 51.22 percent of the vote to Virden’s 48.78 percent.
After the votes were counted, Alter told the Austin Monitor, “I’m excited that the District 10 voters came out and supported me and wanted me to serve for another four years. And I look forward to helping to lead us during this very challenging time.”
Asked why she thought she won the race, Alter said, “I think the District 10 voters voted for integrity in politics, and experience and leadership at this time in our country – and against fear.” She added, “I’m disappointed by the lies the police association spread,” referring to the Austin Police Association PAC ad claim that she had voted in favor of repealing the camping ban, when in fact she voted against the motion.
Virden did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Turnout was heavier in the District 10 race than in the District 6 race, where challenger Mackenzie Kelly beat incumbent Jimmy Flannigan on Dec. 15. A total of 24,109 ballots were cast in the District 10 election. Alter won among those who voted by mail, 3,727 to 1,991, but Virden won among those who voted early in person, 7,133 to 5,757. On election day, Alter also scored a 207-vote margin, winning 2,796 out of 5,385 votes cast.
Alter, like her Council colleagues, believes there is systemic racism at the Austin Police Department. She has voted accordingly, transferring funds away from APD, and like her colleagues, earning the wrath of the Austin Police Association and its supporters.
During a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters, Virden criticized Council and Alter for their attempts to “reimagine public safety.” She stated during the forum that she did not believe systemic racism existed in the police department.
During her campaign, Alter did her best to turn out Democrats. Although Virden claims she is an independent, a reporter found that she had contributed to President Donald Trump’s campaign. In addition, young Republicans came to Austin this past weekend to campaign for Virden and the District 6 challenger Mackenzie Kelly.
District 10, which includes Tarrytown and Northwest Hills, is the wealthiest of the city’s 10 districts. In addition to the police staffing issue, Virden adamantly opposed Project Connect because of the property tax increase it will cause, while Alter supported it.
The Austin Monitor is an online, nonpartisan, 501(c)3 nonprofit publication that covers local government and politics in and around Austin.