Chris Riley drops out of District 9 runoff

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Photo Credit: Chris Foxx | Daily Texan Staff

Austin City Council member Chris Riley dropped out of the runoff election Friday for the City Council’s District 9 seat.

With 49.1 percent of the vote, City Council member Kathie Tovo was just shy of winning the District 9 seat outright on Election Day, and the race was slated for a Dec. 16 runoff. In a press release Friday, Riley called Tovo a “worthy opponent” and said he wanted to start the City Council’s new term positively by collaborating instead of competing.

“I remain dedicated to the ideals and policies I’ve championed, and I feel there is a path to victory in the runoff,” Riley said in his statement. “But I also feel that, as we begin this new era with a new council, a contest that creates negativity and division is not how we should set the tone for Austin going forward. I would rather work together with Kathie and with the new council members, as an advocate, to solve the challenges we face.”

Last Tuesday’s election marked the first under the 10-ONE system, which reformats the City Council from six citywide members to 10, each representing a geographic district. The change, which goes into effect in January, also makes the mayor the only citywide elected official. Riley also said, while his campaign gave Austin a clear view of his vision, he felt Tovo would represent District 9 to her
best ability. 

“I’m also happy to have been part of this first 10-1 and November election, which has brought so many new participants into the city’s democratic process,” Riley said. “I hope that as Austin settles into this new system, we continue to listen and respond to the voices that I’ve been hearing on the campaign trail — the students, the renters, the younger and newer residents, and everyone who wants the opportunity to live closer, live smaller and drive less. They are Kathie’s constituents and those of the new council members, and they deserve to be heard and represented.”

With Riley’s decision, Tovo is now the third confirmed member of the new City Council. Delia Garza of District 2 and Ann Kitchen of District 5 were the only two City Council candidates to win their races outright. The other seven districts, along with the mayor’s race between Steve Adler and City Council member Mike Martinez, will be decided at the Dec. 16 runoff election. Tovo said she was surprised when Riley informed her of his decision, but she looks forward to working with him in the future.

“I think that Chris has a lot of expertise that’s helped this city advance, particularly with multimodal transportation,” Tovo said. “I certainly anticipate continuing to reach out to him on that issue and others. I expect he’ll continue to be involved in this community in many ways.”

With her seat on the new City Council secure, Tovo said she will make use of her extra time.

“Not having a runoff really provides me to focus on wrapping up on some of my current council projects and getting ready to work with my new colleagues on the new 10-ONE council,” Tovo said.

As District 9 covers parts of campus, North Campus, West Campus and Hyde Park, Tovo said the race had a high amount of student involvement. She said that she and Riley both felt it was important that college students stay involved in the political process.

“One of the things we talked specifically about is the importance of continuing to involve students,” Tovo said. “There was a lot of student engagement in the District 9 race, and I look forward to continuing to work with students and making sure they have a voice at City Hall.”

City Council member Chris Riley dropped out of the runoff election for the council's District 9 seat on Friday.

With 49.1 percent of the vote, council member Kathie Tovo was just shy of winning the District 9 seat outright on Election Day. The race was slated for a Dec. 16 runoff. In a press release Friday, Riley called Tovo a “worthy opponent" and said he wanted to start the City Council’s new term positively by collaborating instead of competing.

“I remain dedicated to the ideals and policies I’ve championed, and I feel there is a path to victory in the runoff,” Riley said in his statement. “But I also feel that, as we begin this new era with a new council, a contest that creates negativity and division is not how we should set the tone for Austin going forward. I would rather work together with Kathie and with the new council members, as an advocate, to solve the challenges we face.”

Tuesday's election marked the first under the 10-ONE system, which reformats the council from six citywide members to 10, each representing a geographic district. The change, which goes into effect in January, also makes the mayor the only citywide elected official. Riley praised the system, and said he hoped it would serve Austin well. He also said while his campaign gave Austin a clear view of his vision, he felt Tovo would represent District 9 to her best ability. 

“I’m also happy to have been part of this first 10-1 and November election, which has brought so many new participants into the city’s democratic process,” Riley said. “I hope that as Austin settles into this new system, we continue to listen and respond to the voices that I’ve been hearing on the campaign trail — the students, the renters, the younger and newer residents, and everyone who wants the opportunity to live closer, live smaller and drive less. They are Kathie’s constituents and those of the new council members, and they deserve to be heard and represented.”

With Riley's decsion, Tovo is now the third confirmed member of the new council. Delia Garza of District 2 and Ann Kitchen of District 5 were the only two council candidates to win their races outright. The other seven districts, along with the mayor's race between Steve Adler and council member Mike Martinez, will be decided at the Dec. 16 runoff election. Tovo said she was a little surprised when Riley informed her of his decision and said she looked forward to working with Riley as well.

“I think that Chris has a lot of expertise that's helped this city advance, particularly with multimodal transportation,” Tovo said. “I certainly anticipate continuing to reach out to him on that issue and others. I expect he’ll continue to be involved in this community in many ways.”

With her seat on the new council secure, Tovo said she will make use her extra time.

“Not having a runoff really provides me to focus on wrapping up on some of my current council projects and getting ready to work with my new colleagues on the new 10-ONE council,” Tovo said.

As District 9 covers parts of campus, North Campus, West Campus and Hyde Park. Tovo said the race had a high amount of student involvement. She said that she and Riley both felt it was important college students stayed engaged.

“One of the things we talked specifically about is the importance of continuing to involve students,” Tovo said. “There was a lot of student engagement in the District 9 race and I look forward to continuing to work with students and making sure they have a voice at City Hall.”