Close races force runoffs in two Austin City Council elections, two Austin ISD board elections

A runoff election is required for school board and City Council races in which no candidate earns more than 50% of the total votes. (Christopher Neely/Community impact Newspaper)
A runoff election is required for school board and City Council races in which no candidate earns more than 50% of the total votes. (Christopher Neely/Community impact Newspaper)

A runoff election is required for school board and City Council races in which no candidate earns more than 50% of the total votes. (Christopher Neely/Community impact Newspaper)

Four races—two for Austin City Council seats and two for Austin Independent School District board seats—will need a December runoff election to determine the victors.

In the battles for Austin City Council’s Northwest Austin District 6 and West Austin District 10 and for AISD’s Central and South Austin Place 5 and at-large Place 8, no candidates earned more than 50% of the popular vote. Now, the top two finishers in each race will go head-to-head, with another six weeks to campaign before voters head to the polls, again, on Dec. 15 to decide the winners.

Austin City Council District 6: Incumbent Jimmy Flannigan vs. Mackenzie Kelly

In the only Austin City Council district that touches both Travis County and Williamson County. incumbent Jimmy Flannigan finished the night of Nov. 3 with the most votes of the four candidates, earning 40.3% of the 34,523 votes cast between the two counties. Conservative challenger Mackenzie Kelly drew 33.4% of the votes, defeating third-place finisher Jennifer Mushtaler by more than 14 points.

Only 349 votes separated Flannigan and Kelly among Travis County voters, while Williamson County voters favored Flannigan over Kelly by 2,057 votes.


Flannigan told Community Impact Newspaper he was confident heading into December. Kelly said she hopes to take back the District 6 seat for conservatives.

To learn more about the candidates’ platforms, read the Q&A Community Impact Newspaper conducted with Flannigan and Kelly in the lead-up to the November election.

Austin City Council District 10: Incumbent Alison Alter vs. Jennifer Virden

In the race to represent West Austin on City Council, incumbent Alison Alter was the top vote-getter, earning 34.2% of the 45,433 votes cast in the District 10 election; however, she fell well short of the 50% threshold and will face conservative challenger Jennifer Virden, who gained 25.4% of the popular vote, in a runoff. At 65%, the District 10 race drew a higher turnout than any of the other 2020 Austin City Council races.

With seven candidates on this year’s ballot, many expected a runoff election to decide the West Austin seat. Runoff elections have become the norm in District 10. In the three elections held for the seat since the district’s inauguration in 2014, all three have required a December runoff.

In the previous two, the second-place finisher in November went on to win big in December. In 2014, Sheri Gallo trailed Mandy Dealey by nearly 8 points after the November election but went on to win in December, 54.7% to 45.3%. In 2016, Gallo held a strong lead in the November election over challenger Alter, 48.2% to 35.5%; however, Alter went on to defeat Gallo in a landslide December runoff, 64% to 36%.

To learn more about Alter’s and Virden’s platforms, read the Q&A Community Impact Newspaper conducted with the candidates in the lead-up to the November election.

Austin ISD Board District 5: Lynn Boswell vs. Jennifer Littlefield

In the three-candidate race for the AISD board seat in District 5, which touches parts of Central and South Austin, 37,911 ballots were cast, and only 581 votes—1.5%—separated first-place finisher Lynn Boswell from second-place finisher Jennifer Littlefield.

The top two candidates now head to a runoff. To learn more about their platforms, read the Q&A Community Impact Newspaper conducted with Boswell and Littlefield in the lead-up to the November election.

Austin ISD Board Place 8: Leticia Moreno Caballero vs. Noelita Lugo

In the race for the at-large AISD Place 8 school board seat, Leticia Moreno Caballero drew nearly 40,000 more votes than second-place finisher Noelita Lugo; however, Caballero’s 45.8% share of the 242,550 votes cast in the election was not enough to win outright. Lugo’s 29.8% vote share more than doubled that of third-place finisher Mike Herschenfield.

Caballero and Lugo now head to a runoff. To learn more about their platforms, read the Q&A Community Impact Newspaper conducted with the candidates in the lead-up to the November election.
By Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, USA Today and several other local outlets along the east coast.


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