Israel wins special election for seat in Texas House

Celia Israel

AUSTIN (AP/KXAN) —  Voters in north Austin re-elected a Democrat to represent them in the Texas House, choosing realtor and activist Celia Israel.

Turn-out was extremely low on an icy Tuesday special election to replace Mark Strama, who resigned his District 50 seat to work for Google.

Israel worked for former Gov. Ann Richards and easily defeated Republican Mike VanDeWalle, a chiropractor making his first bid for elected office.

“To have this many people show up for a special election is a testament of the energy for a candidate, a campaign like ours,” Israel said.

The two candidates faced-off in a runoff Tuesday after neither candidate collected more than 50 percent of the vote in November. Israel ran on support for public education.

County officials extended voting by one hour after freezing rain closed Austin schools and shut down eight out of 36 polling stations.

Israel will need to run for re-election again this November.

“I’m ready to win it,” Israel added. “I feed off the energy from people who appreciate the fact that we knocked on their door and asked them to vote.”

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