Jimmy Flannigan

Austin City Council Member Jimmy Flannigan

Please list and describe your top three priorities.

Mobility: Traffic and mobility have long been cited as the biggest concern in our corner of the city. I have led on new infrastructure and roads in D6, I support Project Connect, I serve on CAMPO and CAPCOG, and have led on regional transportation issues. We must continue to best leverage the state and federal transportation dollars managed by those organizations. Specifically in D6, I have worked on many road projects, pedestrian safety enhancements, and shared-use infrastructure that have addressed specific neighborhood concerns.

  • Public Safety Reform: As chair of the Public Safety Committee, I am helping to achieve pragmatic structural reform. Our initial work will fund mental health, permanent supportive housing, workforce development, and more. These first investments are part of the long-term strategy to ensure emergency response best matches the issues facing the community.
  • Affordability: I authored and co-sponsored COVID relief for small biz, creatives, nonprofits, & childcare and helped them be ready to expand as more state & federal support becomes available, while ensuring that the city embraces equity as a guiding principle. Overall, Austin still faces extreme income inequality, and I have championed policy changes promoting affordable housing solutions, fiscally responsible budgeting, and efficient use of taxpayer funds.

If you are an incumbent please discuss your top accomplishments, your priorities for a next term, and why you believe voters should send you to City Hall again.

The last four years on the council have been an amazing experience serving the community, solving problems, and leading on issues during these most critical and unprecedented times. Our district deserves a leader who is not afraid to take on major challenges, articulate clear solutions, dig in and do the hard work. While we have accomplished much in the first term, I am seeking re-election because the work is far from done. 

In my four short years on Council, I have embraced leadership roles on initiatives from transportation infrastructure, to COVID relief for struggling Austinites, to inclusive social services and language access programs. I have the ability to synthesize and analyze hard data when making decisions and then communicate it into bite-size, easy-to-comprehend insight and analysis for public consideration. I am incredibly proud of the work my team and I have accomplished during my first term.

1st Term Accomplishments:

Affordability & FIscal Responsibility:

  • Successfully limited tax increases in the 2018 and 2020 city budgets (and voted against the 2017 and 2019 budgets)
  • Authored and passed unanimously multiple resolutions focused on pandemic economic response for industries impacted by SXSW cancellation
  • Launched COVID-related economic loan and grant programs for small businesses, child-care, non-profits, and pandemic-related costs
  • Supported COVID-related economic support for individuals, including the RISE fund and rental assistance programs
  • Held firm on police union contract negotiations in 2018, substantially reducing costs to the taxpayers
  • Held firm on fire union contract negotiations in 2018, substantially reducing overtime costs, saving millions of dollars
  • New investments in workforce development to help current Austinites attain higher paying jobs
  • Addressed water meter errors, working with D6 residents to prove discrepancies in water bills leading to an unprecedented apology by Austin Energy
  • Worked with Rep. John Bucy III to file bills in the 2019 Texas Legislature to allow for senior and veteran discounts on the city’s drainage fee as well as a bill that would eliminate a decades-old exemption allowing developers around Lakeline Mall to avoid paying traffic impact fees for new development.

Traffic & Mobility:

  • Anderson Mill Road under construction
  • Bypass road at 2222 & 620 under construction
  • 183 Express Lanes approved
  • Capital Metro bus stop improvements
  • School safety improvements at Live Oak Elementary & Deerpark Middle School
  • School safety improvements for the Holy Family school campus on Neenah Rd.
  • Pedestrian improvements at Westwood High School
  • Improved drop-off areas for Spicewood Elementary
  • New traffic signals funded on Anderson Mill Rd and Avery Ranch Blvd
  • New sidewalks funded on McNeil Rd
  • Neighborhood speeding pilot program in Davis Spring neighborhood
  • Partnered with Williamson County to add turn lanes on Lakeline Blvd
  • Partnered with Williamson County for school safety improvements at Elsa England Elementary, Pearson Ranch Middle School, and Patsy Sommer Elementary
  • Amending the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan to add future roadways in D6 that will help alleviate congestion on Parmer Ln, help with access to Vandegrift HS and Four Points MS, and add new transit priority and commuter routes 
  • Fought hard against efforts that reallocated funds away from previously-approved improvements on 620 by supposed “centrists” on CAMPO

Public Safety:

  • Held firm on police union contract negotiations in 2018, substantially reducing costs to the taxpayers, leading to the creation of the new Office of Police Oversight and allowing anonymous complaints to be submitted
  • Led on fire union contract negotiations in 2018, substantially reducing overtime costs, saving millions of dollars
  • Approved an efficiency study process for Fire and EMS to help streamline operations in a way that can reduce costs and improve response
  • Completed purchase of land in District 6 for a new public safety facility, which when combined with Fire and EMS service, will help dramatically reduce response times
  • Funded new community health paramedics and tele-health options for 9-1-1 which will divert mental health calls currently handled by police officers
  • Funded new ambulances and EMTs to address growth and gaps in service for District 6
  • Approved expanded agreements and shared equipment with surrounding public safety agencies to help address the 9-1-1 confusion for our residents living along the city limits
  • Added new monies in the budget for wildfire protection
  • As Chair of the Judicial Committee (now expanded into the Public Safety Committee), led an unprecedented review and reformation of our municipal court bench and completed the construction of a new Municipal Court, moving operations out of the unsafe downtown location and
  • Included flooding infrastructure improvements for Angus Valley neighborhood in the approved 2018 bond

Public Health:

  • Funded new community health paramedics and tele-health options for 9-1-1 which will divert mental health calls currently handled by police officers
  • Funded new ambulances and EMTs to address growth and gaps in service for District 6
  • Approved purchase of hotels for conversion into temporary and permanent supportive housing for those experiencing homelessness
  • First new public park added in District 6 near the Davis Spring neighborhood
  • Approved continue divestment of the most-polluting energy sources by Austin Energy

Please discuss your philosophy of a Council Members’ role and responsibility when it comes to ensuring the provision of basic City services to citizens.

The most basic responsibility of a council member is to listen to the community, understand the systems that provide those basic services, and use their best judgement in setting policy that expands and improves those services balanced with the impact on long-term cost to the taxpayers. During my time in office, I have approached my work pragmatically and through a lens of fiscal responsibility. I have worked to rethink and build systems that are sustainable and do not result in massive future tax increases over the long term. 

Robust community engagement and constituent service is a critical element I have also prioritized. I’ve held over 60 community events, meetings, and town halls, including launching the Northwest Austin Coalition, which became a regular forum for community conversations. My office is proactive about constituent outreach and response, and we are the only district in the city that has a district office that constituents can come to for meetings and other events.

How would you have voted on the police budget that the Council approved in August? If you did vote for it, or would have, please explain your reasoning.  If you would have taken a different approach please explain.

As chair of the Public Safety Committee, I’ve taken a pragmatic approach to this critical work. In addition to the tens of thousands of emails, and tens of thousands of residents taking to the streets demanding change, we have also conducted many public meetings and hearings, soliciting input from police officers, social service providers, and community experts, which have helped shape the work ahead. At budget adoption, while the Council identified many areas for future work, the initial investments were modest but impactful changes to training while expanding mental health, paramedics, homelessness resources, and workforce development. 

Despite incendiary rhetoric from some police and state leaders, I feel that this is truly the most fiscally responsible reform movement in municipal history. My district has not seen the level of service they expect from the police over the last 10 years, despite the fact that the police budget has nearly doubled while our population has only grown by 30%. Through this re-imagining process, the city will be able to better address crime at its root causes, allow the police to focus on their most critical responsibilities, and curtail the long-term unsustainable costs. The status quo was unaffordable, and it’s past time that we work toward structural – and pragmatic – reform. 

Please describe your approach to homelessness. As part of that, state your position on the camping ban, but please do not limit your answer to that.

As a Council, we’ve made historic investments to help those experiencing homelessness.

In working with beloved community providers like ECHO, Safeplace, Caritas, Mobile Loaves & Fishes, a common theme appears: it must be our goal to make homelessness brief, rare and non-recurring. To do that, we must develop interventions and systems that can provide rapid support earlier in crisis, which also happens to be cheaper and more effective. Prior councils did not take these actions at a sufficient scale, which resulted in the numbers we experience today. The historic investments this council has authorized in the last two budgets will make great progress in the development of that system. 

As it relates to the camping ban, all of the service providers agreed that criminalization only provides barriers to accessing services that would help to get them off the street and into housing while adding costs to the criminal justice system. Lifting the camping ban does not mean that it has become legal to commit property or other crimes, and more needs to be done with the county and the state to ensure there are proper legal interventions for the small percentage of those experiencing homelessness who initiate those crimes. 

How would you have voted on the Land Development Code (LDC) that was before the Council on second reading of the LDC — or, if an incumbent, how did you vote? Feel free to elaborate on your position and the approach you would take on the LDC going forward. 

I was a leading voice on land development code reform, and while I didn’t like every compromise made, it is unfortunate that it did not proceed. There is near universal agreement that the current code must be rewritten. The intense development we’ve seen in the outer edge of the city, like in District 6, is a direct result of the overly-restrictive code that advantages greenfield sprawl over smart redevelopment. A code that better allows for housing diversity can better provide housing for all types of people at all income levels. The market in Austin is consistently much tighter than in other major cities, which drives up costs for everyone. 

Continuing on the LDC, do you support petition rights for property owners and nearby property owners as prescribed in state law? Would you continue the appeal seeking to overturn the Judge’s ruling which, among other rulings, said that the Council erred in trying to deny appeal rights in the proposed mass upzonings in the LDC?

The lawsuit brought by Central Austin residents resulted in a new interpretation of state law that deserves a hearing in higher court. I continue to support the right of property owners and neighborhoods to petition in individual cases. However, the ruling puts longstanding city practice in noncompliance. Prior councils made sweeping land development code changes – such as the McMansion Ordinance, parkland dedication, and some neighborhood plans – without following the notice and petition process. 

Will you commit to opposing and voting against transition zones – like those in the LDC rewrite — in single family neighborhoods?

Transition zones – the concept that there should be a scaling of building types to better transition the edges of transportation and commercial corridors and the interior of neighborhoods – are not a controversial idea.  In fact, many D6 neighborhoods are already planned this way with denser housing, apartments, and duplexes closer to main roads. While there were no new transition zones in any District 6 neighborhoods, I supported the concept that transition zones be context-sensitive to the level of infrastructure and amenities. Single family housing was not made illegal anywhere it’s currently allowed in District 6, nor was it eliminated nearly anywhere in the city.

Mackenzie Kelly

Mackenzie Kelly

Please describe your top three priorities: 

My top three priorities are public safety, affordability and correcting the current homeless crisis. 

If you are a challenger to an incumbent please discuss your priorities and why you think voters should pick you over the incumbent and your other opponents.

I am an Austin City Council Candidate for District Six. I am a mother, a wife, and a person deeply invested in the community. Austin is in my blood. My parents live in our district. My brother and his fiance live in our district, my in-laws live in our district. I was born and raised here, I learned life’s hard lessons here, and now I roll up my sleeves to help others navigate life’s challenges in this ever changing city. I spent eight years in the community as a volunteer firefighter. I’ve led volunteer clean up efforts of the overflowing homeless camps under our expressways, I’ve worked hand in hand with our first responders, and as President of Take Back Austin, I’ve fought to keep our politicians held accountable. 

My background and qualifications related to the position include but are not limited to my 8 years as a volunteer firefighter for the Jollyville Fire Department (in District 6) and Completion of a year long disaster science fellowship through the Disaster Science Academy. Additionally, I am a Graduate of the Austin Police Department’s 100th Citizen Police Academy, I previously ran for City Council previously in 2014 and I am President of the non-profit Take Back Austin. In 2012 was appointed by Governor Rick Perry to the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities and in 2015, I was appointed by the District 6 City Councilmember to the Austin Commission for Women. I have deep roots in the City of Austin and I am ready and willing to represent those that live in my district. 

The city of Austin is facing multiple crises right now: A crisis of homelessness, a crisis of public safety and a crisis of affordability. I’ll advocate for our police department to be fully staffed and well funded, I will fight to keep our taxes low, and I’ll ensure that our homeless population is taken care of through policies that work towards identifying and treating the systemic problems that cause homelessness. Those types of solutions are safe and compassionate; living in unsanitary and atrocious conditions is not. 

Our city is facing an unprecedented time in its history. Changes to several policies on council that have been made recently were not made with the city’s future in mind. We need fact based and data driven decisions made. Not knee-jerk reactions without solutions in place beforehand. 

Our response to COVID has shut down local small businesses and many of them have closed their doors for good. The iconic business landscape that kept Austin Weird is slowly fading away. We need councilmembers that not only want to preserve our city, but help solve problems. We need forward thinking and creative solutions for our city’s problems. My life long work advocating for our community and those that live here provide a proven track record for future success as your next councilwoman. 

Please discuss your philosophy of a Council Members’ role and responsibility when it comes to ensuring the provision of basic City services to citizens.

As Austinites, we deserve a city that is safe, prosperous and forward-planning. We need servant leadership, not typical politicians. Now is the time to put political agendas aside and take action to insist on better leadership that serves us. My life long work advocating for our community and those that live here provide a proven track record for future success as the next councilwoman from District 6. 

6. How would you have voted on the police budget that the Council approved in August? If you did vote for it, or would have, please explain your reasoning. If you would have taken a different approach please explain. 

Public safety should be paramount for any elected official. With the rise in crime across the City of Austin and increased response times from Austin Police Department responding to these incidents, it makes zero sense to me that we would eliminate staffing positions for patrol officers. Our current incumbent council member is part of the Public Safety Committee and he is spearheading the “defund the police movement.” This is dangerous for multiple reasons, including the fact that our staffing levels are now back to where they were in 2015. We are entering October with the same number of homicides recorded for the entire year or 2019. We are moving the wrong direction. With a growing population in Austin, we need our police force to grow with us. According to the Greater Austin Crime Commission’s report, In 2019, our district’s crime stats are the following: 

Murder – 0
Rape – 35
Robbery – 47
Aggravated Assault – 110
Burglary – 319
Theft – 1,897
Auto theft – 142

This absolutely needs to be corrected and we can not have our city continue in the same direction towards unlawful behavior without adequate police protection. 

Please describe your approach to homelessness. As part of that, state your position on the camping ban, but please do not limit your answer to that. 

The crisis of homelessness in Austin would be one of the top priorities I would address. It’s important to attack this complex problem with compassion and to seek a safe outcome for everyone involved. Homelessness is not going to be solved overnight, and to that end it is important to attack the root causes of homelessness. Those problems often come from untreated mental illness or substance abuse issues. I would seek support from more public/private partnerships including faith based entities. Recently I was given the opportunity to meet with Alan Graham, who started Community First Village. Alan Graham says that “ that the single greatest cause of homelessness in this nation is a profound, catastrophic loss of family .” This model has been in practice since 2005, and has become a highly successful solution for solving chronic homelessness. 

Additionally, I’ve spent time volunteering and cleaning up an abandoned homeless camp here in Austin. I’ve seen the terrible living conditions the homeless are currently living in. From unsanitary conditions to rats, I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. I believe our council should have thought out their plan to rescind the camping ordinance before allowing our homeless to live under overpasses. Had they come up with a well thought out plan, I imagine it might have included different, localized and hygienic camping locations. From speaking with the homeless across the city I’ve learned a lot of them still want their independence. They do not like the idea of shelters. Their possessions are important to them. At the same time, many of them need access to fresh water or bathrooms. This could be solved by providing camping locations with access to those items and social services. 

It has become clear to me that buying hotels and spending millions of taxpayer dollars was not a sustainable model for the City of Austin to follow. I believe that we need more public – private partnerships in order to solve the homelessness crisis, including partnering with faith based entities. We must address the root causes of homelessness and not just put people in hotels. We have to address mental health needs, addiction needs and provide job training to ensure that we meet the needs of the homeless to help lift them out. What we are doing now does not work. 

How would you have voted on the Land Development Code (LDC) that was before the Council on second reading of the LDC — or, if an incumbent, how did you vote? Feel free to elaborate on your position and the approach you would take on the LDC going forward. 

I would have wholeheartedly voted against the Land Development Code. Laws need to be clear so property owners understand their rights. Property owners should be able to contact law enforcement officers and Code enforcement if violations take place. The Land Development Code should not be able to dramatically change zoning without property owners having a voice. When a person buys a single family home in a single family neighborhood, it would be reasonable to assume that a 10 unit apartment complex or a commercial business would not be able to be built next door. While I recognize that we do need an updated code it does not make sense to move forward with the current version. 

Continuing on the LDC, do you support petition rights for property owners and nearby property owners as prescribed in state law? Would you continue the appeal seeking to overturn the Judge’s ruling which, among other rulings, said that the Council erred in trying to deny appeal rights in the proposed mass up zonings in the LDC? 

I was struck by a citizen’s comment when the Planning Commission met on the latest rendition. She said “everything you want to do here is for the new people that want to move here. Those of us who live here seem to be unimportant.”. I believe the people who live here and own businesses here are very important. I would put their interests first. 

Will you commit to opposing and voting against transition zones – like those in the LDC rewrite — in single family neighborhoods? 

I agree that the LDC needs to be changed, but it needs to be changed in a way that promotes quality of life. Neighborhoods are important. Families are important and so is quality of life. I do not believe that driving families out of Austin is good for our community. Single family home ownership is important because for working people, land and property ownership is typically the only path for generational wealth. We have to protect the property rights of homeowners. As a born and raised Austinite, I believe in the Texas Constitution and property rights outlined there. If the city had done things right the first time we wouldn’t have to have gone to litigation. 

Jennifer Mushtaler

Dr. Jennifer Mushtaler

Please list and describe your top three priorities.

Public safety, public health and infrastructure. I hope to work with citizen stakeholders and the Austin Police Department to develop a thoughtful and fully funded plan for law enforcement. I believe we need to understand better the sources of racial bias and violence in order to successfully root that out of our departments. I believe that the vast majority of men and women who serve are good people with good intentions. We need to restore our cadet classes. We must give our seasoned law officers regular opportunities to get back into the classroom and to do team de-escalation drills. We need to increase community-engaged policing and recruit officers from within our communities.

I believe that Austin Public Health has been sequentially under-funded. We need a modernized system with full physician staffing appropriate for a city this size. We need more robust community outreach to build trust and to reach at-risk communities. We will need careful coordination in the year to come to have effective public health policy with clear guidance and single messaging. APH will need robust funding to roll out an accepted vaccine program.

Infrastructure is a vast issue that includes a modernized land code that begins with small area neighborhood plans and includes TOD’s. This needs to be a consensus code. Growth should be neither be stifled nor allowed to metastasize like a cancer. We must respect neighborhoods, protect natural assets and expand workforce housing. We need to invest in an integrated bikeway and offer corporate incentives for employees who green commute. We need roads that can support current population and anticipated growth. We should consider turning Austin into a Smart City with connectivity to all the districts.

[On questions 2-4 please answer only the one that applies to you i.e. an incumbent running for reelection (3), a candidate running against an incumbent (3), or a candidate in an open seat (4).]

If you are an incumbent please discuss your top accomplishments, your priorities for a next term, and why you believe voters should send you to City Hall again. N/A

If you are a challenger to an incumbent please discuss your priorities and why you think voters should pick you over the incumbent and your other opponents. 

Priorities as stated above. I have a different approach to city governance than the incumbent. I believe in representing the interests of the actual constituents and not some political agenda or self-serving political ambition. The incumbent belittles those who disagree with him. While it is ok to have a difference of opinion, it is not acceptable to bully people. I have managed my business and personal finances with discipline and will do the same with our hard-earned tax dollars. I do not have a criminal history. I have over 20 years of professional experience serving the public, working in teams and participating and leading at an executive level. I will be the first physician to serve on the dais in over 30 years.

If you are running in an open seat please discuss your priorities and why you think voters should pick you over your opponents. N/A

Please discuss your philosophy of a Council Members’ role and responsibility when it comes to ensuring the provision of basic City services to citizens. 

I believe the essential functions of government are to provide collectively what cannot be done individually to allow everyone to achieve their maximum potential and to protect the collective public resources. These functions include safety, security, general health and basic infrastructure (utilities and transportation corridors). Money spent on services outside of the essentials should be prioritized through a community consensus approach. Unfortunately, government cannot please everyone and in the economic challenges that may lie ahead, we could be forced to prioritize the essentials over the wish lists.

How would you have voted on the police budget that the Council approved in August? If you did vote for it, or would have, please explain your reasoning.  If you would have taken a different approach please explain. 

I do not support defunding the police. That was a knee-jerk reaction in the heat of the moment that gave no consideration to consequences or contingencies. Council was already in the budget cycle for the upcoming fiscal year. They should have met with APD and community stakeholders and taken a deliberative and step-wise approach to effect positive change.

Please describe your approach to homelessness. As part of that, state your position on the camping ban, but please do not limit your answer to that. 

Again, I believe that the lifting of the public camping ban did not fully consider all contingencies, nor did Council lay the proper groundwork for these changes. In order to bring people to opportunities to receive help, there must be a mechanism to get them there in the first place that does not criminalize people for being homeless but also balances the business and public health needs of the community. I believe that we need to work organizations that have proven success and are tailored to the needs of a particular situation.

How would you have voted on the Land Development Code (LDC) that was before the Council on second reading of the LDC — or, if an incumbent, how did you vote? Feel free to elaborate on your position and the approach you would take on the LDC going forward. 

I would have voted against the LDC. The proposed LDC replaces one cumbersome bureaucracy for another only the new LDC systematically destroys neighborhoods and displaces families.

Continuing on the LDC, do you support petition rights for property owners and nearby property owners as prescribed in state law? Would you continue the appeal seeking to overturn the Judge’s ruling which, among other rulings, said that the Council erred in trying to deny appeal rights in the proposed mass upzonings in the LDC? 

Support it and submitted my protest. 

The city needs to cease litigation immediately. We have gone in a completely wrong direction when we decide to use our own money to sue ourselves to take away our own legal property rights. Does this remind anyone else of the joke about having a terrible headache while running headlong into a brick wall repeatedly?

Will you commit to opposing and voting against transition zones – like those in the LDC rewrite — in single family neighborhoods? 

I believe the stakeholders, the residents and the communities, need to have a say in transition zones. While the majority of neighborhoods around Austin that I have had opportunity to speak with voice displeasure over transition zones that bleed into the neighborhood, there may be some neighborhoods that for unique reasons would find that appealing. I think it would be foolish to provide a yes/no answer for all situations as that too is guilty of not involving the stakeholders. Let’s start there, with the residents themselves.

Dee Harrison

Please list and describe your top three priorities.

·       If elected, my first priority will be to advocate for restoring the Austin Police Department budget and redefining “the reimagining”.  Providing for public safety services and our emergency responders must be the priority of the Council.  We must support and provide our officers with the training, tools, and technology they need to do their jobs effectively.  To provide more efficient and cost-effective public safety services we must integrate AI into our police policies and practices.  I will advocate for restoring the cancelled police academy training class.  Our police department and training academy and its curriculum is not “broken” as some have claimed.  Rather, it is the City that has broken its trust with the incoming cadet class and the rest of our officers.  That is shameful.

·       We must establish a process to thoroughly review current city operational goals and metrics to ensure the data points are reflective of the post-COVID-19 environment.  The council cannot make informed decisions using outdated information and data sets.  Our city budget, programs, and projects must be based on the new economic reality and our city services and programs must reflect our new normal.

·       District 6 has more acreage in the wildland urban interface (WUI) than any other part of Austin.  The adoption of the WUI Code is a step in the right direction, yet property losses could easily stretch into the billions of dollars should the district face extreme wildfire conditions like it did in 2011.  I will advocate for more mitigation projects to further reduce the wildland fire threat in District 6 and for more funding and the equipment necessary for the fire departments and ESDs to more effectively fight wildland fires.

[On questions 2-4 please answer only the one that applies to you i.e. an incumbent running for reelection (2), a candidate running against an incumbent (3), or a candidate in an open seat (4).]

If you are an incumbent please discuss your top accomplishments, your priorities for a next term, and why you believe voters should send you to City Hall again.

N/A

If you are a challenger to an incumbent please discuss your priorities and why you think voters should pick you over the incumbent and your other opponents.

Please refer to my response to question one for my priorities.

By education, training, and profession, I am uniquely qualified to serve District 6 and the City.  I have established, served on, and managed countless community coalitions and working groups at the local, state, and federal levels throughout my career.  I am the only candidate with experience in public safety, criminal justice systems, strategic and crisis planning, and emergency management.

If you are running in an open seat please discuss your priorities and why you think voters should pick you over your opponents.

N/A

Please discuss your philosophy of a Council Members’ role and responsibility when it comes to ensuring the provision of basic City services to citizens.

As the governing body of our city, council members have both the duty and responsibility to protect our community lifelines.  Our duty is the legal and moral obligation to support those things that enable the city to provide and operate critical government services – the very things that are essential to the safety and security of our citizens.  Our responsibility is to accept our elected role to protect, support, and enhance the government services we provide our citizens.  Our role is to set strategic goals and executive policies, it is not to micromanage city departments.  It also includes helping constituents resolve problems with city programs and services, not dictate solutions.  While City Council members represent their individual districts, they have a greater responsibility to govern the city as a whole.

How would you have voted on the police budget that the Council approved in August? If you did vote for it, or would have, please explain your reasoning.  If you would have taken a different approach please explain.

I would not have voted to reduce the police budget.  If the desire of the council was to increase funding to community mental health services, that could have been accomplished in any number of other ways.  If it was to reduce city spending during this economic downturn, that could have been accomplished with cuts across all departments, not just one.  If the desire really was to “reimagine” police services, I would undertake a more timely and detailed root cause and SWOT analysis, taking into account the impact of the protests, civil unrest, and COVID-19 on our equipment and the rank and file officers.  

Please describe your approach to homelessness. As part of that, state your position on the camping ban, but please do not limit your answer to that.

Homelessness, or the more politically correct term, the unhoused, is a complex problem that calls for a complex, strategic, multi-faceted solutions.  Providing temporary or transitional housing is but a part of a solution.  Creating partnerships with non-traditional and non-governmental organizations to provide services was another.  The City must create a sustainable long-term strategy to address the things we can and establish measurable goals, objectives, and metrics to measure our progress.  The repeal of the camping ban resulted in an explosion of homeless camps all over the city.  These camps are not safe, sanitary, or secure.  At best, the repeal was a stopgap measure.  At worst, it is just cruel.  

How would you have voted on the Land Development Code (LDC) that was before the Council on second reading of the LDC — or, if an incumbent, how did you vote? Feel free to elaborate on your position and the approach you would take on the LDC going forward. 

I would not vote for any code that denies property owners the protections afforded them under state law.  That said, I agree the current code is long overdue for revision.  However, while the LDC eases some of the confusing, bureaucratic, mess of a code that currently exists, it still does not resolve all problems within it.  For example, by using the word “should” instead of “shall” throughout the document, it allows for the interpretation that certain sections of the code are mere suggestions, not requirements.  

Continuing on the LDC, do you support petition rights for property owners and nearby property owners as prescribed in state law? Would you continue the appeal seeking to overturn the Judge’s ruling which, among other rulings, said that the Council erred in trying to deny appeal rights in the proposed mass upzonings in the LDC?

I fully support the petition rights as set forth by state statute.  I also believe the standard practice of automatically appealing any ruling or judicial decision that conflicts with the position taken by the City is not always in the best interest of the City or the taxpayers.  The City should own up to its mistakes with the LDC, drop the appeal, incorporate the changes ordered by the Court, and move on with the revisions.

Will you commit to opposing and voting against transition zones – like those in the LDC rewrite — in single family neighborhoods?

As a City, we cannot continue to destroy the neighborhoods and communities that give Austin its unique character and charm or continue to tax seniors out of their homes.  As written, the proposed high opportunity transition zones conflict with some of the proposed transportation corridors, specifically along the 620/45 tollway corridor.  There are other conflicts in the document that should have been found and addressed before it was put before the council for a vote.

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District 2 Questionnaires

District 4 Questionnaires

District 7 Questionnaires

District 10 Questionnaires

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