Former Austin City Council member announces HD 46 run, in case of special election

Cassi Pollock

Sheryl Cole, the first African-American woman elected to the Austin City Council in 2006, plans to run for the House District 46 seat should the position become vacant in 2017.

Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, the current 11-term state official for the district, announced in September she was resigning from her elected position effective Jan. 10 — the first day the Texas 85th Legislature convenes.

However, Dukes is still on the Nov. 8 ballot, and if she defeats Republican challenger Gabriel Nila in the heavily-favored Democratic district, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott could call a special election sometime in 2017 to fill the vacant state seat.

“I do plan to run for the seat once there’s a [special] election called,” Cole told The Daily Texan on Monday evening.

In her announcement, Dukes cited lingering health issues that stemmed from a 2013 car accident and said in a statement in September she could “no longer provide the effective leadership that is needed to continue [her] sworn duties.”

Cole was re-elected to the City Council in 2009 and served through 2011 as mayor pro tem. In 2014, she launched an unsuccessful bid to be Austin’s mayor, placing third behind current Mayor Steve Adler and fellow council member Mike Martinez.

A University alumnae, Cole also received a degree in accounting before attending the University’s law school in 1989.

Cole said she has received an outpour of encouragement to run for the seat and added she planned to make a public announcement soon after Election Day.

“I would be very honored to represent the people,” Cole said.