Zohaib "Zo" Qadri and Linda Guerrero will face off in a runoff election to represent Austin's District 9 on City Council.
With final election results from Travis County tallied, Qadri led District 9's crowded field of candidates with 10,759 votes, just under 30% of the total cast in the race. Guerrero finished with 8,028 votes, a 22.34% share, narrowly edging out Ben Leffler for the second spot in the runoff. After remaining close with Guerrero in the standings through election night, Leffler ended up with 7,632 votes, or 21.24% of the total in the race.
None of the other five District 9 candidates finished with more than 10% of the district's vote. Greg Smith placed fourth with 3,144 votes followed by Joah Spearman's 1,944, Tom Wald's 1,862, Zena Mitchell's 1,540 and Kym Olson's 1,022.
After jumping ahead to a lead for the first runoff spot, Qadri told Community Impact he was "cautiously optimistic" about the election night results and that he plans to run the end of his campaign by focusing on his priorities including housing, transit and the environment.
"From the start of this campaign, it was about doing right by all Austinites whether it be homeowners or renters, students or working professionals," Qadri said. "Doing right by reaching out to everyone is the right way to go about it, and we’re going to continue to ... lead by that."
Guerrero could not be reached for comment early Nov. 9.
All results are unofficial until canvassed.
Posted 7:53 p.m. Nov. 8
Political organizer Zohaib "Zo" Qadri is leading the eight-person race to represent Austin City Council District 9 and succeed three-term Council Member Kathie Tovo, based on early voting results released Nov. 8.
In the busy Central Austin contest, Qadri holds the early lead with 7,970 votes followed by educator Linda Guerrero's 6,116 votes and Ben Leffler's 6,025 votes. Behind those three front-runners, Greg Smith earned 2,129 early votes; Joah Spearman won 1,341; Tom Wald had 1,236 votes; Zena Mitchell had 1,043; and Kym Olson had 695.
The District 9 seat is one of several council positions up for election this fall with Austinites also set to elect a new mayor and representatives in four other districts. At least 50% of the District 9 vote is needed to win the election outright this month. If no candidate earns a majority then the top two finalists will face off Dec. 13 in a runoff election.
District 9 voters cast 26,555 early ballots this year, compared to 30,712 in 2018.
Following the release of early voting totals, Election Day results will be updated through the rest of the night. All election results are unofficial until canvassed.
The eventual winner of downtown Austin's council seat will be the second person to represent District 9 since Austin shifted to a geographic City Council system in 2014. Tovo, who won the first District 9 election that year and earned a second term in 2018, is term-limited and will step down in January after more than 11 years at City Hall. Tovo was first elected in June 2011 and served her initial term as an at-large council member prior to the 10-1 system.
All Austin City Council election winners will be sworn in Jan. 6.
Tovo's successor will represent a district that continues to evolve amid Austin's overall growth. Affordability in District 9 and Austin overall, the civic response to homelessness, the pace of new development and the rollout of billions of dollars of planned mobility infrastructure are among the key local challenges highlighted by contenders in the lead-up to the election.
The District 9 race ended up being the highest-dollar council contest outside of the citywide mayoral race with more than $537,000 raised and nearly $453,000 spent among all eight candidates through October. Leffler and Smith surpassed $100,000 in total fundraising, while four others each collected tens of thousands of dollars over the course of their campaigns.
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