Here is a short summary of the verdict from Austin voters in Austin’s May 1 municipal election.
Prop A. Voters overwhelmingly (81%) approved a measure empowering the Austin firefighters union to force the City into binding arbitration when negotiations deadlock.
Prop C. By a 63% to 37% margin voters approved enabling legislation that empowers the City Council to determine whether the Office of Police Oversight will continue reporting to the City Manager or instead report to the Council.
Prop D. Voters approved moving the mayoral election to the same year as presidential elections (66% to 34%). To get on that schedule, the mayor elected in 2022 will only get a two year term and four year terms will resume after that. This was one of the items placed on the ballot through a petition drive by Austinites for Progressive Reform (APR).
Prop E. In this APR item voters approved Ranked Choice Voting (58% to 42%), which is designed to avoid low turnout runoff elections by having voters rank their preference of other candidates after choosing their top candidate. A remaining challenge, one underplayed by backers of the initiative, is that Texas state law does not permit ranked choice voting. So Austin will have to somehow convince the Texas Legislature, not exactly Austin’s best friend, to grant this authority.
Prop F. Voters spectacularly rejected the proposal to switch to a strong mayor form of government, with 88.85% voting no. This was APR’s signature and most far reaching item. Several key backers of Prop F have close ties to Mayor Steve Adler, including his treasurer and a former campaign manager. Adler supported the initiative, but said he wouldn’t do a petition drive to seek a third term, regardless of the outcome. The Mayor did not actively campaign for the measure. Another aspect of this result is that Austin voters rejected APR’s framing of their proposal as a way of advancing racial equity and progressive ideals overall.
Prop G. Voters were also having no part of creating an extra Council seat, evidently concluding that they have enough Council Members. Opposed were 57% with 43% in favor.
Prop H. This was an APR measure aimed at introducing a measure of public funding into municipal elections. Despite a far ranging progressive coalition backing this item, it failed, by 57% to 43%.
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