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Kelly, Alter win runoff races for Austin City Council seats

Austin City Council will welcome a new member and welcome back a reelected incumbent to its dais after Tuesday's runoff election for Districts 6 and 10. Both races largely hinged on how the candidates felt about two divisive issues: police reform and homelessness.


Mackenzie Kelly was one of three candidates who challenged Flannigan in the Nov. 3 election, running to his right. Kelly led by 677 votes when Flannigan conceded, although Election Day votes were still being counted.

District 10 Council Member Alison Alter faced six challengers during the Nov. 3 election, ultimately facing off against conservative candidate Jennifer Virden on Tuesday. She won in a close race, with 577 more votes than her opponent.

Kelly and Alter will be tasked with rewriting the city's land use code, which continues to divide the council; considering further cuts to APD's budget, an issue in which Kelly will be outnumbered by her colleagues; and implementing Project Connect, a $7.1 billion overhaul of the city's transit system.

A new face for District 6

Kelly, a client care manager who ran against Flannigan in 2014, opposes recent cuts to the police department budget and council's decision to overturn the city's camping ban. Flannigan supported both policies.

"From standing courageously behind our law enforcement community to demanding safer conditions for our homeless population to fighting for transparency at City Hall, the voice of Northwest Austin has been heard," Kelly said in a statement tweeted by Andy Hogue, who was on her campaign team.

Kelly will be the lone conservative council member, following in the footsteps of Ellen Troxclair, whose term representing Southwest Austin's District 8 ended in 2018.

Kelly has drawn criticism from her opponent and others for posing in a photo with protesters who displayed white supremacist hand signals and members of the Wind Therapy Freedom Riders motorcycle group, members of which later accosted Flannigan at a campaign last month.

Flannigan was the first openly gay manr and the first Williamson County resident to serve on Austin City Council. He also served as chair of the public safety committee and was a vocal supporter of police reforms.

"The work that we're doing is important, and I'm proud of the work that I've done the last four years for this district," Flannigan said during a concession speech at his virtual watch party. "Just because the path to equality isn't straight doesn't mean we're on the wrong path."

Alter stays in place

Alter describes herself as a progressive Democrat and has spent her three years on council advocating for preservationist land use and parks. She voted to cut APD's budget but opposed the council's decision to overturn the city's camping ban.

Virden, a real estate broker and general contractor, also opposed the camping ban. But she clashed with Alter on other issues, such as efforts to defund APD and Project Connect, both of which she opposed.

This story has been updated to clarify that Flannigan was the first openly gay man to serve on Austin City Council. Randi Shade, who was elected in 2008, was the first openly gay member.

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