Local NewsProgressive Candidate Wins Low-Turnout Austin Election for Council Seat Left Vacant by Casar

Vela will serve the remaining three years of the term on the Austin City Council before having to seek re-election in 2024.
January 26, 2022
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José “Chito” Vela, an immigration attorney by trade, won Tuesday’s special election for the vacant District 4 seat on Austin City Council. Vela will succeed Greg Casar, who supported his candidacy during the special election.

The vacancy opened once Casar announced he’d run for Texas’ 35th Congressional District, triggering an automatic resignation from his current position in accordance with state law. Vela was also backed by Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Travis County District Attorney José Garza, and the Workers Defense Project — a worker center advocacy group that toes the line of labor union status for which Vela chaired its board of directors.

District 4 covers east and northeast Austin.

Vela received just shy of 60 percent of the vote followed by Monica Guzmán who drew 14 percent support, Jade Lovera with 11 percent, and Amanda Rios with 10 percent. Turnout in the race was low, with just 10 percent of the district’s 34,582 registered voters casting ballots.

Vela’s campaign platform focused on lowering the cost of housing, shutting down Austin’s coal power plant to “slow climate change,” growing public transportation, and building on the city’s various criminal justice reforms.

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“Thanks to the voters who put their faith and trust in me. Thanks to my campaign staff, volunteers, donors and all my other supporters who sent goodwill and prayers our way,” Vela said on Twitter after his victory. “Special thanks to the labor unions and housing advocates who showed up weekend after weekend to block walk, write postcards, staple campaign literature and do all the other little things that are crucial for a winning campaign.”

Congratulating Vela on his win, Adler said, “Throughout your campaign, you demonstrated a firm commitment to making our city a better place for all. I look forward to working alongside you to tackle our housing challenges and usher Project Connect into its next phase.”

Vela will complete the remaining three years of the seat’s term before facing re-election in 2024.

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Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.

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