The majority of Austin voters chose to re-elect Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell for a second term over opponents Brigid Shea and Clay Dafoe on May 12.
Leffingwell made his celebratory speech at his election night watch party, held at Scholz Garten, as 217 precincts out of 238 precincts reported their results. Leffingwell earned 52 percent of the votes, while Shea earned 37 percent and Dafoe earned 11 percent.
"It was a long, hard campaign and wasn't always pleasant," Leffingwell said. "But I look forward and am honored to serve as 53rd mayor of Austin, Texas."
Leffingwell thanked opponent Brigid Shea for the various issues her campaign raised, which he said made for a better discussion. He said diversity is what makes Austin great.
He also mentioned issues he wants to continue working on, including moving city elections to November, creating more jobs, pushing for cleaner energy and continuing initiatives to spur tourism, such as Formula 1.
After 31 years as a Delta Air Lines commercial pilot, Leffingwell served on City Council from 2005 until 2009, when he was elected mayor. During his term, he pushed to change city districts to be based on geological representation, which could go to voters in November. He has also overseen business expansion deals, such as the recent incentive deal with Apple to expand its campus in Austin.
In his March 30 State of the City speech, he called Austin “the greatest city in America today," but said in order to maintain that lead, the city needs to address jobs, traffic, energy policy, schools and accountability of city leaders.
Challenger and environmental activist Brigid Shea co-founded the Save Our Springs Coalition in 1991 and served on the City Council for one term from 1993 to 1996. She is currently principal of Carbon Shrinks LLC, an Austin consulting firm she co-founded, specializing in carbon reduction and community stakeholder strategies.
John McNally, a member of Shea's election campaign, said although it was known from the beginning it would be tough to unseat an incumbent, Shea still received a lot of grassroots-type support.
"We had a lot of terrific energy and good people involved for the right reasons," he said.
When Shea launched her campaign in early February, she said she planned to focus on preserving the quality of life in Austin, including sensibility to affordability concerns.
“Actions from City Hall are straining people's budgets,” she said.
Community activist Clay Dafoe also challenged Leffingwell. Dafoe, 26, is a fixture at city council meetings where he shares his views and suggestions on issues from big business tax incentives to what he describes as the city's over-regulation of citizens and businesses.
Dafoe said that whatever the outcome, it has been a positive experience.
"We've run a hard campaign and received a lot of positive feedback," he said.