District 3 Austin City Council incumbent Pio Renteria defeats sister in runoff, earns second term

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Incumbent Sabino “Pio” Renteria earned a second consecutive four-year term as District 3’s Austin City Council member after defeating his sister, Susana Almanza in the Dec. 11 runoff election.

For Renteria and Almanza, it was a rematch from 2014, when the siblings also forced a runoff election to decide who would represent the East Austin district. This time, Renteria defeated Almanza 64 percent to 36 percent. The landslide victory reflected the Nov. 6 general election results, where Renteria outgained Almanza by 27 points, yet missed the 50 percent majority by 1.5 points.

“I’m feeling really good, we ran a really strong campaign,” Renteria said Tuesday night.

Although the general election touted a 54 percent turnout in District 3, the runoff produced substantially lower numbers, as expected. Only 3,825 of the 54,304 registered voters showed up to the polls in the runoff, producing a voter turnout of 7 percent.

Renteria ran on a campaign that prioritized dense housing development as means toward affordability and transit solutions. Almanza took an opposing stance, supporting preservation of existing housing as a means toward maintaining neighborhood character and keeping housing costs low. The battle in District 3 was a microcosm of the sharpest political lines in contemporary Austin.

Renteria said his victory was a mandate from District 3 in the housing debate.

“When I was talking to voters, they said we need more density and more growth, and that was the message I was putting out there,” Renteria said Tuesday night. “We can protect neighborhoods and at the same time, create as much density along major corridors so we can address the issue of housing and also public transportation. That’s important to me.”

Almanza did not immediately return requests for comment.

Renteria said his priority heading into his 2019-22 term is building more affordable housing and fixing Austin’s land development code. He emphasized need for City Council to address the issue of density and make good on their investments in public transportation.

Renteria will officially begin his second term following his inauguration on Jan. 7.

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Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following two years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and USA Today. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
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