Sarah Eckhardt Demonstrates wide support among Democrats in her campaign to become Travis County’s first female County Judge

July 15, 2013

Sarah Eckhardt Logo Blue not transparent

Raised more than $157,000; Nearly 85% of contributions $250 or less

(Austin, TX) – Campaigning to be Travis County’s first female County Judge, Sarah Eckhardt demonstrated wide support among Democrats with an impressive July 15 fundraising report.

Eckhardt received 659 contributions from 532 supporters during this latest fundraising period, bringing in $157,081. Nearly 85% of her contributions were $250 or less, showing grassroots support for her campaign.

Notably, Sarah Eckhardt raised nearly $90,000 after she stepped down from her position on the Travis County Commissioners Court on June 1. More than half of her fundraising total came in the last 30 days of the reporting period.

“We are deeply grateful to our supporters, who are clearly looking for experienced leadership in county government. They know I’ll be a strong voice for economic fairness, environmental protection, and opportunities for everyone to succeed,” Eckhardt said.

Donors include prominent individuals such as the recently departed longtime Democratic activist Anne McAfee, longtime Austin environmentalist and activist Shudde Fath, former Democratic State Senators Babe Schwartz, Gonzalo Barrientos, and Hector Uribe, former Austin City Council Member Jennifer Kim, Downtown Austin Alliance Executive Director Charlie Betts, Central Health Board Vice-Chair Brenda Coleman-Beattie, and Former Travis County Commissioners Valerie Bristol and Karen Huber.

Eckhardt Campaign spokesman Nick Hudson said: “We’re off to a great start. We have enthusiastic volunteers, enough resources to deliver our message, and, most importantly, the best candidate.”

With deep roots in Austin and the Texas Democratic tradition, Sarah Eckhardt has made life better for Travis County families during her 15 years of public service. In the County Attorney’s office, she secured protective orders for family violence victims and defended the community’s interests against polluters. In 2006, she prevailed in a hard-fought contest to serve as Travis County Commissioner for Precinct 2, a position she held for six years until she stepped down to campaign for Travis County Judge.

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 Contact:           Nick Hudson, 512-693-8683nick@saraheckhardt.com

Sarah Eckhardt’s Statement On The End Of The Government Shutdown

October 17, 2013
Sarah Eckhardt released the following statement today in response to the end of the federal government shutdown:

Like many Americans, I woke up this morning to the news that the United State Congress has opted not to further destabilize the world economy and do decades of damage to our own financial well being – at least for now. Partisan brinksmanship is dangerous. Some extreme partisan officials asserted that the shutdown would lead to no ill affects either at home or overseas.  They were baffled by the connection between federal funding and actual services to veterans, tourists, patients, widows, and on and on. The takeaway for me is that many of our elected leaders simply don’t know what the federal government actually does.  

If we allowed Travis County to be led by the same kind of rudderless, uninformed leadership, we too could feel the sting of an interruption of road repair, closed parks, and the absence of key personnel such as corrections officers, courthouse management, and direct service providers. Interests across the spectrum would be harmed. But, ordinary people would feel the sting first and most severely.

Travis County residents share the same common need for competent, knowledgeable public servants who know how to make government work. I look forward to bringing my years of experience advocating for transparency, efficiency, and progressive solutions to the office of Travis County Judge

Sarah Eckhardt’s Statement on State Highway 45 Southwest

October 22, 2013
Sarah Eckhardt, a Democrat running for Travis County Judge, offered the following testimony at Travis County Commissioners Court on Tuesday, October 22, regarding State Highway 45 Southwest:

“Thank you, Judge, for allowing me to speak today. Thank you, Commissioner Daugherty, for including reference to “Green Mobility” in your original resolution. And, thanks to my commissioner, Bruce Todd, for including the environmental history of this project in the resolution as well as a commitment to sound budget principles should the Court choose to fund this state highway with local property taxes. These changes improve the resolution. But, the timing of this resolution nevertheless reduces the leverage of this Court.

It comes as no surprise to this Court that I oppose building State Highway 45SW. I served on the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) for six years and have been on the front lines against an increasing majority in favor of this road.

 I don’t think we should sacrifice our natural beauty, air and water quality, biodiversity, and neighborhood character to build SH 45 SW. But it seems likely, based on the makeup of CAMPO and the current makeup of this Court, that 45SW will be built. I implore you as a Court to demand of TxDOT and the CTRMA that the roadway set the bar for environmentally sensitive and contextual design so that the degradation of air and water quality is held to an absolute minimum and local treasures like Flint Ridge Cave and the Wildflower Center remain protected. And, I implore you as a Court to consider the larger transportation implications of this road – how it impacts IH35, MoPac and Lone Star Rail.

As you all well know, we have no land use authority. If we had, no responsible land use plan would have allowed this level of development atop a critical water recharge zone and endangered species habitat. Travis County and the City of Austin attempted to dissuade development by withholding roadway infrastructure and by the outright purchase of large portions of land. Nevertheless, development occurred on both sides of the Travis/Hays county line. And now, not surprisingly, that development clamors for a better connection between their homes and their work.

Central Texans must find a way to live in and move through our environment without destroying it.

Rail is the best option. Lone Star Rail is poised to serve the same population that 45SW would serve. In a couple of weeks this Court will have another vote on Lone Star Rail. Please support it.

I reluctantly admit, building SH 45SW as a limited access toll way with congestion pricing may be another option. But, only if the considerable revenue generated from such a toll way funds two critical elements – One, the engineering necessary to hold the environmental damage to an absolute minimum, and two, the operation and maintenance of Lone Star Rail and connected bus service in the IH35 and MoPac corridors.

Please think past the politics of the today to the policy solutions for a better tomorrow. Please move us to a better balance between transportation and the environment. Please do your part to find ways to live in and move through our environment without destroying it.”

Faith Action for Women in Need Endorses Sarah Eckhardt: “Sarah is a Democratic woman in the mold of Wendy Davis”

November 13, 2013

Sarah Eckhardt is honored to receive the endorsement of Faith Action for Women in Need (FAWN), A faith-based organization that supports full-spectrum women’s healthcare! From their Facebook Page:

Our current County Judge, Sam Biscoe, is asking relevant questions about the budget of Central Health. We will need that type of oversight and transparency going forward in this 60-year relationship that costs taxpayers $35 million a year and compromises women’s healthcare. I have spoken at length with Sarah, and trust her to keep inquiring about these relationships and how they can be made better.

Sarah is a Democratic woman in the mold of Wendy Davis. She takes a bold stand and keeps asking questions, no matter what. This is a tough fight she’s in, and she’s the underdog. Please stop by her website, endorse her, and consider volunteering for her campaign. Women don’t need someone who makes deals behind closed doors, we need someone who will put healthcare first…

Thanks to Cindy Noland and the folks at FAWN!

Statement: Sarah Eckhardt praises step toward environmental monitoring around TXI Aggregate Mine

November 21, 2013

Sarah Eckhardt praises step toward environmental monitoring around TXI Aggregate Mine
“It’s an important piece of a comprehensive agreement I helped negotiate as Travis County Commissioner.”

Sarah Eckhardt released the following statement today:

Today, the county is releasing baseline measurements for environmental quality around the soon to be operational TXI Aggregate Mining site near the unincorporated community of Austin’s Colony and other nearby residential neighbors in Eastern Travis County. These baseline measurements provide essential evidence if their homes are threatened by pollutants from their industrial neighbor. If environmental harm occurs and TXI caused it, TXI can be held accountable.

In late 2011, Eastern Travis County residents were stunned that more than 1000 acres of land right next to their homes would be mined for gravel and the State had already provided the aggregate mining company a permit. All that stood between them was a miniscule 50 foot buffer required by TCEQ and a ministerial permit from the joint office of the City and the County regarding traffic plans, storm water and water quality.

By using its leverage in the permitting process and asserting a claim to more than 600 acres of the proposed mining site that had already been identified as high priority parkland scheduled for acquisition, Travis County was able to bring TXI to the negotiating table. The results announced to the residents today and every year moving forward are the product of a multi-party agreement between TXI, the City of Austin, LCRA and Travis County that I helped negotiate while on the Commissioners Court. In addition to important environmental monitoring, the agreement provides Travis County residents larger buffers from the aggregate mining operation than state law requires, reduced truck traffic on area roads, right-of-way for a much needed additional bridge across the Colorado River, and the long-desired parkland crucial to completing a trail system that will run from the headwaters of Gilleland Creek near Pflugerville all the way to where it joins with the Colorado River near SH 183 and US 71. The Gilleland Creek Trail will connect to the Onion Creek Trail to traverse the entire Eastern half of the County.

I hope this agreement serves as a template for more collaboration making it possible for us to live, work and move through our sensitive and unique environment while preserving it for generations to come.”

Sarah Eckhardt Wins Debate Decisively

December 10, 2013

For Immediate Release

December 10, 2013
Contact:  Nick Hudson
Cell: 512-693-8683
Email: nick@saraheckhardt.com

Sarah Eckhardt Wins Debate Decisively

“The difference is clear”

Sarah Eckhardt, a Democrat running for Travis County Judge, was the clear winner of Monday night’s major KUT and In Fact Daily debate at The North Door with her single opponent, Andy Brown.

“The difference is clear,” said Nick Hudson, Sarah Eckhardt’s Campaign Manager, “Sarah won the debate decisively and controlled the discussion. She showed us that she is the only candidate with the experience and command of issues prepared to protect the environment and stand up for working people as our Travis County Judge.”

During her tenure as a Commissioner representing Precinct 2, Eckhardt held polluters accountable, opposed tax giveaways to Formula 1 and Apple, and fought for access to full spectrum reproductive services for women. If elected, she will be the first-ever female Travis County Judge.

“In his first debate with Sarah, Andy Brown’s lack of knowledge and command of the issues was plainly obvious. He is wholly unprepared for the job that he seeks,” said Nick Hudson. “While Mr. Brown was doing things like cracking jokes to eat up time on the clock, Sarah Eckhardt was answering questions directly, connecting her experience to our community values, and speaking with the gravitas and maturity that befits the position.”

Sarah Eckhardt thanked the organizers of the debate. “I’m grateful to the Capital of Texas Media Foundation, In Fact Daily, and KUT News for hosting this first-of-its-kind discussion about the issues that impact Travis County voters. We had a lively discussion about the issues that impact our friends and neighbors, including environmental protection, land use authority, and transportation.”

Sarah Eckhardt followed in the footsteps of her father, Congressman Bob Eckhardt, and became a public interest attorney after graduating from The University of Texas School of Law in 1998. Eckhardt has served the public for 15 years. In the County Attorney’s Office, she secured protective orders for domestic violence victims. Eckhardt won a seat on the County Commissioners Court in 2006. She lives in Central Austin with her husband Kurt, who is also an attorney, and her two children, Hank and Nadine. She is an adjunct professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.

Visit the campaign page on the web at saraheckhardt.com and facebook.com/saraheckhardt

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Brown Drops COTA Chair From Supporter List! But He’s Keeping the COTA-Related Money

January 22, 2014
 For Immediate Release
Austin, TX – Andy Brown must be feeling the heat after questions were raised about the major support he is receiving from Circuit of the Americas investors, lobbyists and boosters.
Shortly after a media story about the racetrack and Brown came out Friday, COTA Chairman Bobby Epstein was suddenly removed from Brown’s online public supporter list. Epstein had been listed as a supporter for several months, and, like billionaire car dealer Red McCombs, is a major track investor.
“Circuit of the Americas money and support are racing into Andy Brown’s campaign, and now he’s clumsily trying to hide it,” said Nick Hudson, Sarah Eckhardt’s Campaign Manager. “I think it tells voters a lot about Mr. Brown’s ethics and transparency that he dropped Epstein from his list but kept thousands of dollars from COTA backers.”
Brown has received contributions from businesses, lobbyists, and boosters associated with COTA. They include:
  • Armbrust & Brown PAC — COTA’s city hall lobbyist’s lawfirm gave $1,000.
  • Gary Farmer — The major track advocate, host committee member and Republican donor gave $2,500.
  • Carla McDonald — The COTA host committee member gave an in-kind contribution of $5,694.12.
Other Key Facts
  • COTA recently convinced the Commissioners Court to spend millions in tax dollars to build a new road to the track.
  • In a widely distributed letter, COTA’s top investor, Red McCombs, upbraided Commissioner Bruce Todd for suggesting that the money for the road would be better spent on helping flood victims.
  • COTA is suing the Travis Central Appraisal District to lower its property tax valuation, which will in turn reduce its property tax bill.
“Apparently, the COTA backers think Brown will give them what they want, unlike Sarah who opposed millions in tax giveaways to the Formula One track when she served on the Commissioners Court,” Hudson continued. “The track may have Brown, but the people will have Sarah Eckhardt.”

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