Updated: Tovo, Riley headed to runoff in District 9 race

Sebastian Vega and Adam Hamze

City Council members Kathie Tovo and Chris Riley will face each other again in a runoff election on Dec. 16 as neither received a majority of the vote in Tuesday's District 9 council race.

Tuesday’s election was the City’s first under the 10-ONE structure, which reformats the City Council from six citywide seats to 10 geographic districts. District 9 covers parts of the University, West Campus, North Campus, Hyde Park, downtown Austin and South Congress.

Receiving 49.1 percent of the vote, Tovo was just shy of avoiding a runoff with Riley, who captured 40.4 percent.

Before the results were finalized, Tovo said at her election night party that she was prepared to face Riley in a runoff.

“What we do know is that we ran a fabulous campaign — the results are terrific,” Tovo said. “We are in the lead, and its a great lead, and we’re still waiting for some boxes. If this is a runoff, we are going to need to roll up our sleeves. We are going to need to get back out there on the doors.”

Riley, who worked with student organizations in addressing city and West Campus issues over the past few months, thanked his staff for their hard work.

“I’m so grateful to everyone. It has been a long haul.” Riley said. “I’m not a young person anymore, but I still believe in the idea of change. This includes a walkable urban environment.”

At Tovo’s party, local realtor Myron Smith said he supports Tovo for her stance on neighborhood issues and first-term actions. 

“I support Kathie Tovo because she has been quite a supporter of neighborhoods, and she has never waived on that,” Smith said. “I am very hopeful and supportive of the things she brought to the table in her first term, so I hope that she would definitely be able to continue that.” 

Kelly Blanton, an urban and regional planning senior at Texas State University who lives in District 9, said she voted for Riley because he is a strong candidate for urbanism in the downtown area, and she wants to protect those principles. 

“He pioneered the City Council legislation for accessible dwelling units and has consistently been on the side of growth and positive development,” Blanton said. “Tovo hasn’t really done anything in the arena of urbanism.”

Erin McGann, a program supervisor for the Texas Department of Justice, finished third in voting with 11 percent.