Spooky mailers give Skidmore supporters a small fright

TL;DR: Chill. She’s against increasing the homestead exemption.

It’s gonna be a dark and stormy night, fitting weather for a Halloween haunted by the horrors of late campaign season advertising.

As the last week of campaigning slowly decomposes into the final eve of reckoning, the candidates and political action committees are swirling like mad wraiths across the city, choking our mailboxes with bone-chilling flyers and transforming the Austin Chronicle into a Necronomicon of skin-crawling ads.

Some of the morbid messaging lurches towards outright fear-mongering, while at least one candidate is trying to exorcise the gremlins unleashed by a supporting PAC’s uncoordinated attempt to be the Hyde to her Jekyll.

In that latter case, City Council District 9 Danielle Skidmore is clearing the air over mailers sent out by The Center for Austin’s Future political action committee, the PAC arm of the eponymous nonprofit outfit run by former Real Estate Council of Austin head Ward Tisdale. The CAF launched last year with a mission to recruit and groom a new vanguard of city leaders, and indeed Skidmore’s first major step towards her candidacy was her participation in the group’s three-month ATXelerator boot camp.

Both Skidmore and the CAF seemed to be on the same page when it came to imagining a denser, more transit-friendly Austin, until a pair of the PAC’s flyers began appearing in mailboxes this week.

Unlike official material from the Skidmore campaign, these mailers take direct aim at her chief opponent, Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo. Both feature a largely identical list of criticisms leveled against the two-term incumbent, including her opposition to recent increases in the city’s homestead exemption.

“But wait,” you might be thinking. “Does that mean Skidmore supports a higher homestead exemption that would provide insignificant relief only for homeowners at the expense of millions upon millions of dollars from public coffers?”

That’s a valid question, and it’s one that at least one highly good and intelligent reader reached out to senior Met staff last night to ask. And as proper tribunes of the people, we relayed the query directly to Skidmore herself who expressed no small amount of exasperation with the PAC’s flyers.

“The homestead exemption is a thing where’s there not much daylight between us,” she said referring to herself and Tovo. Indeed, nowhere on Skidmore’s website, social media presence, or proprietary mailers does she advocate instituting the full 20-percent homestead exemption that Mayor Steve Adler promised to deliver back in 2014.

Instead, she makes the case for allowing more duplexes, triplexes, and other forms of missing middle housing, and reducing car-dependence by locating denser development near existing transit lines, positions that contrast sharply with Tovo’s long-standing preference for preserving the central city’s single-family neighborhoods at the expense of everyone who is being priced out of these increasingly exclusive enclaves.

While that may have been a slightly more compelling contrast to paint in an election inundated by young progressive voters, the CAF PAC instead went with lame swipes at Tovo (she paid her taxes late once; she followed correct city procedure to seek a not uncommon third term) while portraying Skidmore in terms that evoke Republican Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty (she’ll lower taxes and build more roads!).

The good news is that Tisdale told The Met that his organization won’t be sending out any more of the flyers this close to the election. He also affirmed that his organization came up with the mailers’ messaging entirely independent of Skidmore’s campaign.

And speaking of independent and Skidmore, the mailer kerfuffle was the least of her concerns this week after a bizarre encounter with a canvasser from the racist-meme using IndyAustin PAC. Skidmore described on social media how her interjection into the canvasser’s allegedly misleading spiel to a UT student triggered the canvasser to erupt into aggressively transphobic paroxysms.

So on that note, here’s wishing a happy Halloween to all except IndyAustin, a ghoulish group that deserves nothing but curses, hexes, plagues, and poxes for its continued meddling in our city’s politics.