Updated 05/19/2011 07:31 PM
Shade takes aggressive tone after runoff decision
Austin City Council Member Randi Shade said her upcoming runoff election against challenger Kathie Tovo is about “priorities, not personalities.”
Shade spoke to an audience of supporters, including fellow Council Member Chris Riley and Mayor Lee Leffingwell, during a press conference Thursday at City Hall.
Tovo easily beat Shade with 46 percent of the vote in Saturday’s general election. Shade walked away with 33 percent. With four candidates in the race and no majority winner, the two candidates with the most votes can participate in a runoff election. Choosing not to concede by Tuesday’s deadline, Shade opted for a June 18 runoff.
While some political experts and community members believe Shade faces tough odds with a 13-point deficit to overcome, Shade told supporters Thursday she’s energized and positive that she will make history in Austin next month.
“The stakes are too high,” Shade said. “It’s about the enormous differences between me and my opponent. It’s too big to quit this race.”
Those differences include a disagreement over Water Treatment Plant 4, currently under construction in Northwest Austin. The decision to build the multi-million dollar plant divided the city council, and some say it is too expensive and unnecessary given that there are already two water treatment plants in town.
Shade insists WTP4 is the only way Austnities will have adequate drinking water in the future. She said it would cause legal issues for the city and cost millions of dollars to terminate construction of the plant.
According to Shade, her opponent has not weighed in on whether she would vote to stop the plant’s construction if elected to Place 3.
However, Tovo told YNN that's not the case, but if money can be saved on the project, that's what she would hope to do.
"Just looking carefully, looking at how we're spending money making sure we spend as little of the taxpayers money as possible because it is a very costly investment, but certainly, it is a priority to protect that investment," she said.
Shade also touted her support for emergency services providers, several of whom stood behind her during Thursday’s conference.
Shade said that during the campaign Tovo suggested cutting back on the number of emergency personnel in order to reduce taxes.
Tovo told YNN she does not support lowering the number of EMS, fire or police personnel.
Shade described water and public protection as “have-to-haves” for the city, a message she felt wasn’t emphasized strongly enough before Saturday.
“I didn’t do a good enough job making sure I distinguished myself for voters,” she said.
When it comes to Austin’s expansion, Shade accused Tovo, a member of the city’s Planning Commission and a longtime neighborhood activist, of speaking with “a forked tongue.”
Shade, a supporter of urban growth and mixed-use development, said Tovo fails to support projects that reduce sprawl and enhance Austin’s urban core.
Rhetorical jabs are only part of what’s made the race for Place 3 muddy in recent days. Wednesday, a local activist filed a police report against Shade, claiming she stole satiric signs from outside Barton Hills Elementary that depict her as “Shady the Clown.”
Calling the signs “immature” and “trash,” Shade urged anyone around town to pick up the signs and throw them away.
In addition, Shade has filed an ethics complaint against Tovo, claiming she violated the Fair Campaign Ordinance in a mailer her campaign sent out before the general election.
YNN's John Salazar contributed to this report.