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Your Voice. Your Vote.

The Austin Young Chamber urges all young professionals and citizens to get informed and
exercise their right to vote on Election Day.

Did you know? In Austin’s last mayoral election, more than 85% percent of Austinites did not participate (in the runoff). Eighty-five percent! What’s more, voters ages 65 and up had 7x the electoral clout than voters ages 18 to 34.

That’s why it’s so important that AYC members not only vote, but fill out their entire ballot, helping to select our future senators and representatives, as well as City Council members.

Panicking because you don’t really know anything about who’s running?

Here are some tips:

  1. Attend the Mayoral Forum and happy hour on Monday, October 22nd. The happy hour will be held at Full Circle Bar on East 12th Street from 5:30pm to 6:30pm and will include free skeeball and fun civic activities! Then we’ll all walk over to the United Wesley Methodist Church and watch the debate together!
  2. Learn how the City Council candidates feel about everything from the environment to transportation with Informed.Vote, a project from Leadership Austin and the Austin Tech Alliance
  3. Go to Vote411.org to check out the League of Women Voters’ nonpartisan voting guide

Early Voting
Monday, October 22 – Friday, November 2

Election Day
Tuesday, November 6

Which District Am I In?

Find Your Polling Location



Austin Young Chamber Candidate Questionnaire Responses

If you are a candidate and would like your responses to be included, please email us to receive a copy of our candidate questionnaire.


District 1 has six candidates running for City Council.

Mitrah Avini

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Lewis Conway Jr.

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Vincent Harding

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Natasha Harper-Madison

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Mariana Salazar

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Reedy Spigner

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  • What are the three most pressing issues facing millennials in your district?

    VincentHarding

    Vincent Harding

    Affordability, Transportation, Equity.The housing market has gotten more expensive, real wages have gone done, and the price of education has gone up. There needs to be a multifaceted plan to take on affordability, which I elaborate on in the rest of this questionnaire.

    On transportation, I believe we need to continue to push for high quality, accessible, and equitable public transportation. Millennials are increasingly in favor of innovative solutions to public transport, so the City of Austin must continue to lead the way in this arena.

    Equity impacts every single resident in the city. Whether it be in housing, transportation, criminal justice, or other city policy, we need to ensure that every ordinance we pass is not only for the few, and that we balance residents needs from every part of the city.


  • Housing Affordability


    Millennial home ownership rates today are 8 percentage points lower than when baby boomers were our age. Buying a home (especially in the central core of Austin) has become more and more out of reach for young people. What do you plan to do to make Austin a more affordable city for everyone, including millennials, families, and retirees?


    VincentHarding

    Vincent Harding

    As a real estate agent, I have seen the market get more expensive in Austin and I also understand the wealth building that can come from owning a home. From a loan qualification perspective, millennials face certain challenges that previous generations never encountered. For example, millenials lack the luxury of high income early in their careers. Additionally, many people are saddled with student loans with compounding interest, and may not can shoulder new debts, such as mortgage payments.I will seek to address affordability by tackling the three key factors in Austin’s rent structure: Housing, Income, and Infrastructure.

    1) Housing – The goal of “the market” is to make money. “The market” will not voluntarily create affordable (less profitable) housing without any sort of incentive. Thus, local government entities must use the budget and bonds to build both affordable and low-income housing by working with nonprofits and private businesses to raise money for these sorely needed developments.
    Further, supply and demand economics impact housing costs. Additional housing supply will help to slow down the rate of price growth. Missing middle housing can help to provide less expensive housing options and could help to increase transit supportive density.

    2) Income – I want to help people make more money through job education and training programs at low cost to no cost. This combined with low cost to no cost childcare is pivotal in helping people reach higher income brackets.

    3) Infrastructure – Transportation and utility costs are critical aspects of affordability. Improvements to mass transit may increase the viability of car-free living, lowering the overall cost of living in Austin dramatically. Additionally, less wait times and faster commutes for mass transit will also give more time to individuals who have no option but mass transit to get around. Moreover, seeking to provide energy efficiencies in new builds to improvements in existing homes can result in lower utility costs.


  • Housing Development


    Many of Austin’s young people are hungry for living spaces that are in the central core of the city, accessible by public transit, and walkable. Which policies (in the absence of a large-scale land development code, such as CodeNEXT) would you like to see enacted that would help to achieve this?


    VincentHarding

    Vincent Harding

    Some of the things that I want to see in the next land development code are:
    1) Seek to provide greater density on corridors, missing middle housing behind it, and protect the core of neighborhoods to prevent further displacement.
    2) Reform the fee in lieu option and develop a format that is not one size fits all.
    3) Work with community organizations and neighborhoods to develop smaller minimum lot size requirements to help decrease the land cost component of the housing compared to a larger piece of land required to build.
    4) Clean up the code to remove conflicts and create a clear hierarchy in the next code to rank which section of the code supersedes another section of the code.
    5) I would seek more housing options across Austin and each District should include their fair share of development. District 1 has received a disproportionate share.

    Currently, there are only 99 single-family homes available inside Austin city limits that cost $250,000 or less. This is the market reality of what currently exists.

    On the campaign trail, I encountered numerous individuals with their own take on what affordable housing options they want to see. Some prefer single-family houses, others fourplexes, and still others – condominiums. Based on the plurality of the population, I believe we need to serve a wide variety of housing options in general, and increase the volume of options available to the public.

    The use of homestead preservation districts can be an important tool to help provide a consistent income stream to provide long-term affordable housing units. Setting up new community trusts where the city buys land can be a factor in establishing long-term low income and affordable housing.


  • Affordability


    A lot of attention is focused around Austin’s (generally young) tech sector, but there are many millennials in Austin that are just scraping by, while also dealing with the overwhelming challenge of student debt. Which policies would you like to see enacted that could increase affordability in Austin and allow our city’s young people to find quality jobs and establish families right here in Austin, without being forced out of the city?


    VincentHarding

    Vincent Harding

    Although many millennials have degrees, there are still large segments of this demographic that have not achieved such a level of educational attainment. Some, especially those who have been incarcerated, lack even a high school diploma or GED. It is important to ensure economic advancement to these, often forgotten segments of the population, just as it is to provide chances for highly educated individuals. I want Austin to have job opportunities at all levels and chances for advancements for all Austinites. Austin should be working with our other local government partners, private businesses, and nonprofits to help as many people that want to obtain a GED to do so. I am proud of the work that I did to help Austin pass a ‘Fair Chance Hiring’ ordinance geared to give those with criminal backgrounds a better opportunity to get hired for employment. Austin should make sure the ordinance is enforced.

    I want to encourage larger companies to provide more paid apprenticeships and paid internships to give individuals real experience, is an underrated method of economic advancement that benefits our population as a whole.


  • Economic Development


    How would you balance the City’s efforts to continue to attract and manage the re-location of large businesses with our desire to maintain a vibrant local business, art, and music community?


    VincentHarding

    Vincent Harding

    About 25% of District 1 residents are living in poverty. I want to provide more economic opportunities to move people out of poverty. Incentive programs should focus heavily on ensuring that local businesses can create jobs at a wide range of income brackets, buttressing the most vulnerable portions of our population.

    While my focus on elevating disadvantaged populations within my district is a priority, I believe that large businesses can also provide proportional benefit to all segments of the population, as they bring thousands of job opportunities with them when they arrive in Austin. Striking a balance between local business incentives and enticing new employers to relocate to Austin requires careful consideration of the impact on Austin’s impoverished.

District 3 has six candidates running for City Council. Sabino “Pio” Renteria is the incumbent.

Sabino “Pio” Renteria

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Susana Almanza

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Jessica Cohen

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Justin Jacobson

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Amit Motwani

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James Valadez

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  • What are the three most pressing issues facing millennials in your district?


    No Responses Received.

  • Housing Affordability


    Millennial home ownership rates today are 8 percentage points lower than when baby boomers were our age. Buying a home (especially in the central core of Austin) has become more and more out of reach for young people. What do you plan to do to make Austin a more affordable city for everyone, including millennials, families, and retirees?


    No Responses Received.

  • Housing Development


    Many of Austin’s young people are hungry for living spaces that are in the central core of the city, accessible by public transit, and walkable. Which policies (in the absence of a large-scale land development code, such as CodeNEXT) would you like to see enacted that would help to achieve this?


    No Responses Received.

  • Affordability


    A lot of attention is focused around Austin’s (generally young) tech sector, but there are many millennials in Austin that are just scraping by, while also dealing with the overwhelming challenge of student debt. Which policies would you like to see enacted that could increase affordability in Austin and allow our city’s young people to find quality jobs and establish families right here in Austin, without being forced out of the city?


    No Responses Received.

  • Economic Development


    How would you balance the City’s efforts to continue to attract and manage the re-location of large businesses with our desire to maintain a vibrant local business, art, and music community?


    No Responses Received.

District 5 has one candidate running for City Council. Ann Kitchen is the incumbent.

Ann Kitchen

annKitchen2

  • What are the three most pressing issues facing millennials in your district?


    No Responses Received.

  • Housing Affordability


    Millennial home ownership rates today are 8 percentage points lower than when baby boomers were our age. Buying a home (especially in the central core of Austin) has become more and more out of reach for young people. What do you plan to do to make Austin a more affordable city for everyone, including millennials, families, and retirees?


    No Responses Received.

  • Housing Development


    Many of Austin’s young people are hungry for living spaces that are in the central core of the city, accessible by public transit, and walkable. Which policies (in the absence of a large-scale land development code, such as CodeNEXT) would you like to see enacted that would help to achieve this?


    No Responses Received.

  • Affordability


    A lot of attention is focused around Austin’s (generally young) tech sector, but there are many millennials in Austin that are just scraping by, while also dealing with the overwhelming challenge of student debt. Which policies would you like to see enacted that could increase affordability in Austin and allow our city’s young people to find quality jobs and establish families right here in Austin, without being forced out of the city?


    No Responses Received.

  • Economic Development


    How would you balance the City’s efforts to continue to attract and manage the re-location of large businesses with our desire to maintain a vibrant local business, art, and music community?


    No Responses Received.

District 8 has four candidates running for City Council.

Rich DePalma

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Paige Ellis

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Bobby Levinski

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Frank Ward III

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  • What are the three most pressing issues facing millennials in your district?

    RichDePalma

    Rich DePalma

    1. Affordability – Austinites are being displaced by soaring property taxes and lack of affordable housing options – whether they are renters or homeowners. As the affordability gap grows, we continue to see more and more people of all walks of life being displaced and struggling to stay in Austin. Moving forward, it is important that we create housing that protects the economic and cultural diversity of this city. We have pushed too many people out of the urban core yet force them back into the city in order to work without providing any sort of public transportation options, which ultimately increases traffic congestion and sprawl. This is a problem we must fix in every district in the city. This can only be done with a diverse mix of housing types that are built under a clear land development code executed by a functioning development services department, using an array of traditional and creative financing options, and developed by an available skilled workforce.
    ———-
    2. Transportation – Since moving here over a decade ago, there have been little to no transit improvements made in Southwest Austin. Time spent in traffic affects our quality of life, leaving us with less time for the people and the things we love. It is essential for us to diversify modes of Austin transit.We need to work with stakeholders and include the community in conversations regarding mobility and traffic alleviation. Increased stakeholder participation may allow for creative, budget friendly, inter-local or Public Private Partnership solutions for organizations creating or impacted by mobility and traffic challenges.

    By activating our transportation corridors and committing to future transit oriented development, Austin will make a huge step toward city-wide transit planning and establishing strong functional routes where they are most needed, before spending billions of dollars on mass transit. We must also provide more safe mobility options for pedestrians, bikes and future modalities that we don’t know exist yet – an example being the scooters that dropped into Austin overnight. Finally, District 8 has the second highest percentage of sidewalks that are deemed poor or failed by the City.

    The City of Austin has a duty to guarantee safe, efficient, and equitable transportation options. I believe this includes public transportation based on qualified need and multiple modes, safe routes to school, sidewalk maintenance and other public works improvements, as well as a significant investment in traffic signalization efforts. We must also frequently evaluate mobility routes to address the needs of the communities that need the most relief. While I support smart mobility initiatives, autonomous vehicle research and creative mass transit solutions for our future, it is critical to focus on our most immediate needs with our limited resources.

    I commit to prioritize safe and effective transportation solutions. Through my work as Vice President of the Oak Hill Association of Neighborhoods, I collaborated with TxDOT to create a solution to alleviate traffic congestion at the Oak Hill ‘Y’. I’m proud to have also advocated for passage of the 2016 Mobility Bond to make improvements in areas such as William Cannon, Brodie, and Slaughter all of which are now in development.
    ———-
    3. Stability – I believe that everyone chooses to live in Austin due to the culture, opportunities, and our beautiful natural setting. While we have experienced rapid growth in recent years, it is important that while Austin adapts or changes to meet the demands of growth, while preserving the reasons for why people moved here to begin with – employment opportunities and quality of life that our city presented and attracted us to it. By focusing on solutions over politics, I am committed to maintaining and improving our social infrastructure to ensure that Austin remains a city of not just hope and opportunity – but also success and prosperity for generations to come.

    BobbyLevinski

    Bobby Levinski

    As a millenial myself, I’d say that my primary concern is whether I will be able to afford to continue to live in this city. And, I’d imagine that would be true of most other millennials as well. Council needs to do a better job with assessing the impacts of budgetary decisions on renters and reduce the City’s reliance on regressive, flat-rate fees that have a disproportionate impact on lower income families. One area in particular that I would like to tackle is addressing the mandatory deposits at Austin Energy, which add a significant burden on the costs of moving, especially for renters who tend to move more often. Additionally, we need to work to expand housing options so we can accommodate future generations of Austinites. Second on the list would be mobility. For many within our generation, I believe there is a hope and a desire for solutions to improve mobility that are not reliant on single-occupancy vehicles. Obviously, land use plays a role, as we need to permit and support neighborhood-scale services (retail, restaurants, etc.) that provide residents options within walking distances (which would also necessitate the safe sidewalks to support that). But, we also need dedicated right-of-way for mass transit to make transit more realistic and beneficial for people, by improving speed and reliability.And, finally, while it’s not the most exciting topic, water should be on all our minds. To ensure we have abundant water for our generation and future generations to come, we need to adopt an aggressive water management plan (aka Water Forward) that is reflective of the urgency of climate change and the need for our City to become more drought-resilient and water-smart. Follow up actions would include (i) requiring green stormwater infrastructure for new developments and redevelopments, so that we are using the water available to us more efficiently and (ii) investing in demonstration projects for on-site wastewater treatment, such as working with AE to use greywater in chiller plants.


  • Housing Affordability


    Millennial home ownership rates today are 8 percentage points lower than when baby boomers were our age. Buying a home (especially in the central core of Austin) has become more and more out of reach for young people. What do you plan to do to make Austin a more affordable city for everyone, including millennials, families, and retirees?


    RichDePalma

    Rich DePalma

    We are hearing of lifelong Austin residents having to move from their community as a result of affordability whether from increasing rents or increasing property taxes. I want everyone to be able to age in place within their community and our current land development code does not allow for that nor does it meet the goals and prescription of Imagine Austin. It does not let us build the diverse housing stock needed to meet the needs of our diverse residents – even in District 8, which is often viewed as “good enough.” Southwest Austin is no different than the rest of our city with its various housing needs. 53% of marriages end in divorce, and parents want to be able to stay in their community, keep their support network and have some degree of normalcy for their kids. Many of our seniors are seeking smaller senior friendly housing options – less space, more social opportunities and a place within the community they know. Housing is not one-size-fits all, as our current land development code currently prescribes.Here are some of my recommended solutions:

    1. Fix the land development code so that we may have more diversity in our housing stock – specifically this may include more multi-family homes, smaller lot sizes and setback requirements, as well as varying parking requirements with alternative transit available in the urban core.

    2. Relax regulations on accessory dwelling units.

    3. Support transit oriented development and increased density along the corridors and near cultural and job centers.

    4. Support inclusive housing policies. District 8 has the lowest amount of affordable housing in the city, and I would like to see this change to benefit our neighbors on fixed incomes or facing life changes such as divorce or death of a spouse.

    It should also be noted that ultimately, the reason for our high property taxes in Austin is the broken public school funding formula which needs to be prioritized by the Texas Legislature in the 2019 legislative session. The Austin Independent School District is the largest contributor to recapture and the taxes are impacting everyone in the city. AISD taxpayers pay more to recapture than their ENTIRE property taxes to the City of Austin. Moreover, high property taxes are not just homeowner problems – property appraisal and rising taxes are passed to renters through rising rents. I am the only candidate in the race who has testified at the state legislature on the impact the funding formula is having on affordability and on our facilities. This work is only beginning.

    BobbyLevinski

    Bobby Levinski

    To address the housing crisis, we should be looking towards the guidance of the Strategic Housing Blueprint and implementing the actionable directives that have already been vetted by the community and council. The Blueprint recognizes that a housing shortage exists up and down the housing spectrum, and we’ll need different solutions to affect the production of units to fill those gaps at each income target-level. Establishing and administering the Affordable Housing Incentives Taskforce was one of my first big policy initiatives when I worked as a policy advisor for CM Kim (circa 2005-2007). It was during that process we crafted the City’s core affordable housing values of deeper affordability, longer affordability, and geographic dispersion. I remain committed to these values.For lower-income families, we must invest in significantly more public housing. Hopefully, the voters will adopt Proposition A in November, which will provide the Council with $250 million to leverage in ways that will address our housing gaps–such as senior living facilities, family-sized housing around neighborhood schools and transit-oriented housing. I am most excited to work on maximizing the use of City-owned land, broadening the use of community land trusts, and implementing wide-spread and meaningful density bonus programs, all of which help us provide housing for lower-income areas in areas of town with higher land costs.

    For market-rate units, my focus would be on making the development review process quicker and more predictable to minimize the time, costs and risks that developers take on–and, in turn, hopefully increase production. A lesser-known fact about myself is that I have actually had the opportunity to see the development process from both the City and developer side. As a real estate attorney, I saw the amount of time, money and risk that goes into acquiring and preparing a site for prospective development. Much of the debate within the community is spent on entitlements, which I can understand, but entitlements are only one piece of a much larger puzzle. From my experiences, the City has a lot of room for improving its development review process, which would limit the City’s impacts on driving up costs. Ideas I’d like to pursue include working with the City Manager to adopt employee retention and path-to-success policies to keep quality reviewers so not to lose their experience and knowledge that help site plans get reviewed accurately and efficiently; working with Austin-based architects to develop pre-approved, ready-to-build plans for low-impact structures like ADUs; and working with the City Manager to better empower project managers to resolve conflicts between reviewing departments.


  • Housing Development


    Many of Austin’s young people are hungry for living spaces that are in the central core of the city, accessible by public transit, and walkable. Which policies (in the absence of a large-scale land development code, such as CodeNEXT) would you like to see enacted that would help to achieve this?


    RichDePalma

    Rich DePalma

    1. We must update our land development code so that more diverse types of housing units can be built throughout the city – be it through approving more varying lot sizes or modifying parking requirements.2. Imagine Austin establishes a plan for increased density along corridors as well as residential, employment and cultural centers as well as a commitment to transit oriented development, which will focus on density along our corridors and we need to focus on our infrastructure to align with this plan.

    3. Expand community land trusts and ensure that a range of multifamily housing types can be included.

    4. Continuing to Leverage the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program. Our city could do more to ask developers to include more affordable housing units that target 40-50% MFI households, as opposed to only 80% MFI households.

    5. Utilizing existing City of Austin property to create multifamily housing at different MFI levels.

    6. Identifying any additional funding needed for emergency rental assistance.

    7. Purchase additional land for land banking in future areas of growth.

    8. Improve the notoriously long permitting process so that residents do not need a lobbyist or attorney to be able to apply for a building permit and to streamline housing development and meet demand

    BobbyLevinski

    Bobby Levinski

    Some of this is addressed above in the prior questions. In addition to investing in dedicated transit for right-of-way, we need to proceed with code amendments that will modernize our growth. The Imagine Austin Growth Concept Map envisions that we direct growth and redevelopment along designated transit corridors and within regional and town centers, so we need to bring forward amendments (likely through through the corridor planning process) that will allow that growth to occur in those areas. Density bonuses should be applied in these areas to help us both generate resources for income-restricted housing and also increase density along transit corridors to provide ridership.


  • Affordability


    A lot of attention is focused around Austin’s (generally young) tech sector, but there are many millennials in Austin that are just scraping by, while also dealing with the overwhelming challenge of student debt. Which policies would you like to see enacted that could increase affordability in Austin and allow our city’s young people to find quality jobs and establish families right here in Austin, without being forced out of the city?


    RichDePalma

    Rich DePalma

    When we consider affordability, besides housing, we must also consider access to healthcare, food, utilities, childcare options, education, and employment opportunities for all. The City Council’s formation of advisory task forces on quality of life, utility affordability and anti-displacement are great steps, but do not address all of our residents’ issues.Policies, roles, and programs that can be implemented to assist the challenges Austin residents experience are:

    1. Investment in workforce development and education programs – guaranteeing a sustainable educated career force that is compensated with a fair salary and benefits.

    2. Address other household costs such as affordable childcare.

    3. Work with the Texas Municipal League to address Texas laws that currently restrict us from establishing local rent control policies.

    4. Expand renters assistance program to meet the need of the market.

    5. Enforce anti-discrimination laws.

    6. Promote policies that increase housing stock and decrease construction and permitting costs in order to create an environment where tenants are coveted and not expendable.

    7. Incentivize other public agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations to provide more wraparound services to address specific and systemic challenges of affordability that may lead to displacement.

    BobbyLevinski

    Bobby Levinski

    I would like to refocus our economic incentive dollars and programs on developing the local workforce and supporting locally owned businesses that operate according to our community’s values. In prior budget years, I have helped shift millions of dollars that were set aside for recruitment of mega corporations to instead address critical needs, such as workforce development programs. I also see opportunities in working with our school districts and ACC to expand upon training for skilled trades, and, using some of my prior legal training, set up a city program to help workers form worker-owned cooperatives, so the availability of capital is not a barrier for a hard worker to get ahead.


  • Economic Development


    How would you balance the City’s efforts to continue to attract and manage the re-location of large businesses with our desire to maintain a vibrant local business, art, and music community?


    RichDePalma

    Rich DePalma

    I plan to support ordinances that encourage growth and opportunities for both large and small businesses as well as our labor force – our workers. When we manage the relocation of large businesses, we must be mindful of the goals outlined in approved Commission plans such as Imagine Austin, the Music Commission Report, and the Downtown Austin Plan.As a governing body, we should agree to leverage the relocation of any large business as an asset for the benefit of the existing community it moves to. We must also hold organizations accountable to meet the needs of our city and/or respective districts. These needs include: displacement prevention, job creation, and a positive impact on city infrastructure, transit, or by solving future challenges. For example, we may encourage more mixed use development or zoning for new corporate development versus just commercial; so more housing, shopping, work and culture opportunity districts can exist around Austin. A new tech campus may provide more than just office buildings, but potentially apartments, restaurants, roads and transit options. This in-turn improves our housing options, employment opportunities and overall quality of life.

    BobbyLevinski

    Bobby Levinski

    In our current economic climate, I generally do not support using tax incentives to recruit large businesses to Austin. They are coming here for our workforce, and investing in our workforce would be a far better investment for our community that can meaningful impacts for our existing residents. I agree with a shift in prioritization for our economic incentive dollars that would focus on supporting locally owned businesses and developing our talent (through art, music, film, etc).

District 9 has four candidates running for City Council. Kathie Tovo is the incumbent.

Kathie Tovo

kathieTovo2

Isiah Jones

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Linda O’Neal

lindaONeal2

Danielle Skidmore

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  • What are the three most pressing issues facing millennials in your district?

    KathieTovo

    Kathie Tovo

    I believe that affordability and mobility are pressing issues facing the entire City generally and millennials specifically – and I have taken key steps to help make progress in these areas, such as leading on anti-displacement efforts, working to implement many of the Strategic Housing Blueprint’s strategies related to affordable housing, and supporting significant investments in our mobility infrastructure (including the $720 million mobility bond).Another key issue facing millennials in District 9 is homelessness. District 9 is home to a larger population of residents experiencing homelessness than any other district in the City. The Ending Homelessness Coalition (ECHO), on which I served as Membership Council Chair, has reported that more than 600 young adults experience homelessness in Austin and Travis County each year. Working to end homelessness in our community has been a key priority for me, including by adopting the “Action Plan for Ending Homelessness,” leading the effort to open the Sobering Center, working to develop the Homelessness Outreach Street Team (HOST), and redefining the scope of the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH), among many other initiatives.

    Finally, I believe that climate change poses a key threat to our current and future residents. With climate change, Austin will continue to experience extreme droughts that threaten our water supply and extreme storms which cause flooding. I have been a tireless advocate for policies that can help make Austin more sustainable for future generations by leading on efforts which developed ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals, nearly tripled the City’s portfolio of solar energy, and helped develop a 100-year plan to help Austin manage its water resources responsibly, among many others.

    DanielleSkidmore

    Danielle Skidmore

    1. Housing: the housing crisis in Austin affects all of our city’s residents, but disproportionately affect millennials who did not have a chance to buy homes in central Austin before it became nearly impossible to do so in today’s market, and who face higher obstacles to paying rent in considering inflation’s affect on education (and therefore, student loans) and consumer goods while wages have not kept pace. 2. Mobility: traffic is terrible for everyone, but disproportionately affects those who are unable to access the resources that saturate central Austin. Many millennials work or go to school in District 9, but are unable to afford to live there—thus need real mobility solutions to have easier and less expensive access to the district. 3. Equality: the threat of our state and federal government’s intolerance is imminent to all Austinites, but as 4th street (home to many of the city’s LGBTQ friendly spaces) and many other businesses owned and frequented by marginalized populations are situated in District 9, they need additional support. We will be back at the Capitol again this spring, to fight the bathroom bill and the repeal of marriage equality and more—and as millennials are more likely than other age groups to identify on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, they will disproportionately affected by the civil rights violations we face.


  • Housing Affordability


    Millennial home ownership rates today are 8 percentage points lower than when baby boomers were our age. Buying a home (especially in the central core of Austin) has become more and more out of reach for young people. What do you plan to do to make Austin a more affordable city for everyone, including millennials, families, and retirees?


    KathieTovo

    Kathie Tovo

    Last year, according the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, the Austin MSA was the most active among the top 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas in terms of housing permits issued per capita. In managing this huge growth, I continue to support our Imagine Austin vision of growth focused on our corridors and in our centers and our Strategic Housing Blueprint goals of adopting effective policies for securing affordable housing units.

    DanielleSkidmore

    Danielle Skidmore

    First and foremost, we must update our outdated and insufficient land development code. It’s important to understand that our current land development code has already been amended dozens of times, attempting to address the inefficiencies of the 1984 “Zoning Ordinance” with the needs of a city which has changed greatly over the years. I see this code rewrite as akin to cleaning out your garage… It starts out organized, but as we grow and time passes, it becomes a mess. You have to sort through everything, and the sorting priorities can change as a family grows. The point is that finally organizing your garage can be laborious and cause headaches, but ultimately is a good thing—as is finally solving Austin’s housing accessibility and affordability crisis. As far as how this translates to housing inventory…Where practical, large lots (such as corner lots) can support more housing units for more families. Perhaps this could involve smaller minimum lot sizes, or more limited setbacks to achieve a goal of a greater diversity of housing options. They key is to work with the community to find solutions together. We can absolutely build more housing units at a neighborhood scale that enhances the community.

    We, as a city, also need to build more multi-family housing along and near or core transportation corridors. Given our expensive land costs throughout Austin, a key to providing more housing that works for the middle-class is to provide more types of homes that distribute this land cost more efficiently. We also need to provide options to add density to single-family housing lots, such as allowing ADUs (accessory dwelling units) in all neighborhoods—as previously voted against by the incumbent in District 9. This will increase homeowners’ ability to shoulder increasing property taxes through supplemental rental income, while expanding rental inventory.


  • Housing Development


    Many of Austin’s young people are hungry for living spaces that are in the central core of the city, accessible by public transit, and walkable. Which policies (in the absence of a large-scale land development code, such as CodeNEXT) would you like to see enacted that would help to achieve this?


    KathieTovo

    Kathie Tovo

    I voted to initiate the CodeNEXT process several years ago because I believe that our current Land Development Code needs to be updated and improved. Since then, we have seen that the way this process was handled has fallen short by not reflecting community feedback and priorities. Going forward, I believe that any future efforts should be community-driven and focused on producing a new code whose different chapters work together to better manage our growth in a manner consistent with Imagine Austin, on our corridors and in our centers.I have also been a strong and consistent voice in favor of the mobility investments needed to support this growth, from advocating for urban rail and mass transit to supporting the 2016 mobility bond, which invested $720 million in sidewalks, bike lanes, urban trails, corridors, and regional mobility. I look forward to continuing to engage this conversation through Project Connect.

    DanielleSkidmore

    Danielle Skidmore

    More neighborhood housing compatible with our existing structures and transit system is not only possible, but is critical to realizing our Imagine Austin vision. I support the affordable housing bond proposal and more workforce housing in District 9, which will necessarily include more multifamily housing: condominiums, townhouses, apartments, etc. Land values near the core of Austin are so expensive that we can’t just build a few “affordable” single family houses and call the job done.Following are three suggestions to help address the housing shortage, with special consideration of the needs and salary ranges of millennials in Austin: We must look at publicly owned land in D9 that is underutilized; we can create and strengthen public-private partnerships with local foundations like Affordable Central Texas, Habitat for Humanity, Foundation Communities, etc.; and we must allow more deeply affordable types of housing, such as microunits. Providing this housing near public transportation is also essential.

    For the sake of our environment, we finally need to go big on public transportation. That means embracing technology to ensure faster, safer movement around our city, but also going back to the basics: a robust bus service, and sidewalks that that allow our citizens to walk (or roll) to where they need to be. Less driving means more living. I envision a walkable, bike-friendly Austin, with transit options that fit within or improve families’ budgets and lifestyles.

    Austin needs a core network of high capacity transit, just like we have core highway network. With Senator Watson’s recent statements, I’m glad that transit is becoming front-and-center in people’s minds and the city’s conversations. As to what that looks like, we have modes of transportation that we know work—and we have room to innovate too. With the original advent of railroads across the US, tracks were made to guide the vehicles most safely and efficiently from point A to point B. Now we have new technologies to guide them, even in the form of autonomous vehicles. Considering this, it’s not as important to me what what the ‘track’ looks like. What is essential is that our high capacity transit cannot be stuck in traffic! We absolutely need dedicated space for transit.

    I would also say that for the highest capacity corridors, we should be considering a long-term solution that is fully separated from other vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

    To implement this transportation reboot in Austin, we need someone with the both the technical skillset and political will to guide that process to fruition; we need someone with a long term vision that necessarily includes making policy changes to save the environment.

    If we want public transportation to be as big as it should be in Austin, we must LAO give commuters these alternatives and provide relatively inexpensive incentives to use transit. Movability Austin is doing good work in this area. People make behavioral economic decisions all the time when it comes to commuting—whether it’s deciding whether or not to drive in the toll lane, or whether to take an Uber or Lyft. We’ve been talking about asking people to shift their behavior out of the goodness of our hearts, but why don’t we make it a decision that makes sense for our schedules and pocket-books. This will affect the change faster.


  • Affordability


    A lot of attention is focused around Austin’s (generally young) tech sector, but there are many millennials in Austin that are just scraping by, while also dealing with the overwhelming challenge of student debt. Which policies would you like to see enacted that could increase affordability in Austin and allow our city’s young people to find quality jobs and establish families right here in Austin, without being forced out of the city?


    KathieTovo

    Kathie Tovo

    Affordability has many facets, including a person’s cost of housing, mobility, and other living expenses as well as his or her income. I have worked on policies to help improve affordability in all of these areas.These efforts include: leading on increasing funding for affordable housing, building out our multi-modal infrastructure to provide more options in mobility, consistently supporting urban rail and other mass transit solutions, requiring Austin employers provide paid sick leave to their workers, and requiring companies receiving City incentives provide a living wage and domestic partner benefits, among many other initiatives.

    DanielleSkidmore

    Danielle Skidmore

    Robust public transportation is a key component of affordability. Since housing costs in central Austin will always be more expensive, providing workers and students with quick transportation connections will dramatically help with family budgets.But we also need to consider intersectionality of transit with other barriers to quality of life, in order to improve mobility more broadly within the city—such as ensuring childcare options are available at or adjacent to major employment centers or within neighborhoods. This will keep family commutes simpler, by reducing additional trips. One the most significant reasons people give for NOT choosing a transit option is the need to make that additional stop for childcare, so we can solve two major issues facing Austin’s families by thinking about these solutions intersectionally.


  • Economic Development


    How would you balance the City’s efforts to continue to attract and manage the re-location of large businesses with our desire to maintain a vibrant local business, art, and music community?


    KathieTovo

    Kathie Tovo

    Austin has become an attractive place to live, in part due to the high quality of life that our residents enjoy. I supporting continued investment in initiatives that continue to support our quality of life, including in our community spaces and in efforts that ensure we can retain a vibrant arts and music culture.In terms of business incentives, I weigh incentive package proposals on the basis of the benefits that they would provide to our community, such as providing a living wage and benefits to their employees. My careful analysis of these benefits, informed by community and stakeholder engagement, guides whether I am supportive of an incentive package or not.

    DanielleSkidmore

    Danielle Skidmore

    The Central Texas region has been characterized by significant growth for many years. Most factors driving this growth extend beyond the city’s borders. At its core, Austin is a welcoming, progressive, and inclusive city, which will always make it a popular. The city should not subsidize growth, writ large, but should always make sure that we encourage policies that are consistent with Imagine Austin and the city’s six Strategic Outcomes.The recently approved framework for revisions to the City’s Chapter 380 agreements is a good start to ensure that we incentivize not only the creation of jobs at large employers, but also help to attract and grow more small businesses.

Austin has seven candidates running for Mayor. Steve Adler is the incumbent.

Steve Adler

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Travis Duncan

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Laura Morrison

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Alan Pease

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Gustavo “Gus” Peña

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Todd Phelps

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Alexander Strenger

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  • What are the three most pressing issues facing millennials in your district?

    SteveAdler

    Steve Adler

    Affordability, transportation, and equity are the three most pressing issues facing most millennials throughout our community. None of these challenges are new, but they have become amplified by the tremendous growth that our city and region are experiencing. They are interconnected, and we really will not able to make significant progress on any one without addressing the other two. We’re losing millennials as it becomes harder and harder to find housing that’s affordable, especially close to downtown and in complete, walkable areas. As folks move further and further to the perimeter of Austin, there are fewer transportation options and greater auto dependency increases transportation costs and congestion. These challenges impact communities of color disproportionally as a result of institutional and systemic issues. There are other issues, as well, like climate change, homelessness, and women’s health. We’re finally taking significant action on all of them, in some cases for the first time in ways that are serious, deliberate, long-term, and of sufficient scale.

    TravisDuncan

    Travis Duncan

    Lack of Political Respect – Millennials are not given their fair shake in the political process. We are generally regarded by the ruling class as naïve, inexperienced, miseducated, and lacking grit and character; Many elders and peers in our community show grave disrespect to our generation, verbally and in their policy decisions. Of course, these are generalizations, but they speak to a larger issue about how the youth are treated in this country, and hold their weight in truth. Since children are not given the right to vote, they are not given the full respect they deserve as citizens in our society. This leads to a general neglect in our civic education process for children, as most adults have become politically apathetic when it comes to educating their children, relying on the school system to do so. Because the State has institutionalized our schools and linked them too heavily to standardized testing, and dramatically less on practical knowledge, young people are not given the fullest opportunity to develop their skills and talents in a way that is complimented and holistically guided by their elders. All of this contributes to a lack of enthusiasm to engage politically, which is why we see such low voter turnout among millennials and generation z. Too often do we see elected officials on the local and national level attempting to discredit the merit in millennial ideas, often resorting to their own traumatized conditioning and willful ignorance. I have personally experienced this, as well as most millennials I know. We have no doubts about the unwitting and unconscious corruption and lack of integrity among virtually every elected official. Locally, even our millennial representatives have shown a willingness to put profit interests ahead of people’s lives, which further alienates young voters, and causes them to lose hope entirely, and it’s very dangerous when you have an entire generation cynical and discouraged. It’s not that millennials are against profit or business, it’s that we realize the system is set up to create losers, to enable a class system where inherently some will inevitably fail, and we want to change that system. Whenever we make attempts to do so, we see the status quo cheating to stay in power. The biggest issue facing millennials is the crime of a belief system that marginalizes even a single person. Millennials are ready for a new system that honors all people, not just a select few.

    Economic Insecurity – There are many millennials who are doing great: they are travelling the world, have flexible and creative careers, and have more opportunity than any generation has had before them. We live in the age of influencers, entrepreneurs, and online profit gurus. This has created a great culture for millennials. However, MOST millennials do NOT share this experience, although they do all share innovative ambition. Even many with highly specialized university educations end up working service industry jobs, or working with companies that are not related to their field of study or passion. Couple that with the stagnation of wages, and the massive fraud that is student loan debt, and we are amidst an economic tragedy. So many young people are not able to buy a house, are being displaced from the urban cores where they work and enrich; in order to afford rent they have to move further away from the city, thus increasing their costs of living with vehicle maintenance costs and fuel. Or they commonly must cram into co-living situations with people they might not prefer to live with but settle because of the location access. Many young people are so economically stressed they turn to drugs, self-disrespecting sex, toxic foods and constant partying to ease their frustrations, which leads to higher medical costs and potential emotional trauma. We are truly an epicurean generation, at least in USA… All of this leads to a general feeling of insecurity, which is leading to the decrease in millennials wanting to have children and foster a family life, to remain unrooted and constantly transient. Overall, this is negatively impacting our health as a society, and is a leading cause of the depression, overdosing, and suicide we see increasing in our culture.

    Miseducation – The school systems have failed us. Frankly, they weren’t designed to create free thinkers, they were designed to mold obedient workers. Let’s get real, we need an ENTIRE restructuring of how we educate. Most millennials have very little understanding of anything practical, like how to build things, how to grow food, how to identify plant medicines, natural cures, nor do most possess any physical skills that can translate to something self-sufficient. We have been raised to be completely reliant on the system, and as the system continues to become more inequitable and unjust, the youth become more miseducated and confused. Many millennials lack basic of self-confidence, frequently engage in self-shaming or cyber-bullying, and have been taught lies about the human biology and physics of our universe. If we were to base our knowledge on what we we’re taught in schools alone, we would know very little, yet will have spent most our lives stuck in a classroom we never chose to associate with in the first place. If it weren’t for the internet, many of us would be very lost. And even because of the internet, and because our schools only taught us how to memorize and recite, not to think for ourselves, we are too gullible to the lies our mainstream media perpetuates, as well as the medical establishment and the banking industries. We have become imprisoned by their information, while being constantly bombarded by a mass of noise that becomes increasingly difficult to navigate and discern through. Because our parent’s generations relied so heavily on the capitalistic system and the school districts to teach us how to be good citizens, they have missed the opportunity to raise confident and deeply inquisitive people. Granted, the spark still remains. Millennials have a unique understanding of the world. Many of us grew up without internet, and then were introduced to it in our adolescence. We are the only generation with that dualistic split, giving us the BEST positioned perspective to lead a new generation of policy making that works for ALL people. Yes, the internet is really that significant. It’s time for us to update our knowledge and give millennials the respect we deserve, to acknowledge our power as a collective, and it’s time for the “woke” millennials to run for office and lead a new wave of collective awakening in awareness about deep truths of our universe. SOLUTION.

    LauraMorrison

    Laura Morrison

    I believe the three most pressing issues for millennials are also the most pressing issues for all Austinites:

    Affordability: Austin’s housing costs continue to skyrocket, locking out new arrivals and displacing longtime residents who cannot afford their tax bills or rent increases. As mayor, I will initiate a plan to ensure each Council district provides its fair share of the housing we need, including deeply affordable units in every part of town.

    Mass Transit: Austin is paralyzed by traffic, yet the 2014 referendum on light rail failed because it did not address the needs of the people who live here. I will work with the community and other governmental entities to create a realistic transit plan that improves mobility for all residents.

    Restoring Trust in City Hall: From backroom deals to CodeNEXT, City Hall’s failure to operate transparently has divided Austinites at the very time they need to come together. I will work to end this divisiveness and promote increased transparency, ensuring all residents have a voice in city decisions that affect them.

    ToddPhelps

    Todd Phelps

    Affordability, Mobility, Preserving the soul and heart of Austin

  • Housing Affordability


    Millennial home ownership rates today are 8 percentage points lower than when baby boomers were our age. Buying a home (especially in the central core of Austin) has become more and more out of reach for young people. What do you plan to do to make Austin a more affordable city for everyone, including millennials, families, and retirees?


    SteveAdler

    Steve Adler

    Homes under $250,000 are snapped up within days pretty much anywhere in the city, and demand has basically pushed new construction of single-family homes past a starting price point of $300,000. No one action will fix homeownership costs, so we need to be acting in many, many different ways.

    We need more and varied housing options in all parts of the city, and that will require an update to our land development code to allow duplexes, triplexes, and ADUs in more places. We need more urban centers, like the developing Domain. There’s too much demand and not enough supply of housing and that will require code changes, permitting changes and finding resources to subsidize more affordable housing so that demand at all levels of housing costs is better met. Aside from the development process, we need to increase housing supply and reconcile transitions along major corridors and in mixed use centers.

    There are also costs added to housing because of development permitting and regulations that result in a process that costs too much and takes too long. What can we do? We have made a lot of progress on development permitting since the Zucker Report was issued, but there is still much to be done. The new permitting center at the old Highland Mall will be a boon to the development process and should help speed things up. We’ve computerized a lot of aspects of the process and that’s also helping. When I took office in 2015, one could not submit plans or even pay fees online, and that’s outrageous. We’ve made progress.

    There are other factors affecting the cost and supply of housing, like a tight labor market and resulting labor costs. A significant contributor to housing costs are property taxes and, since 74% of the property tax increase over the last five years has been solely the “state property tax” levied by the State through our school districts, we need the legislature to revise the school finance system.

    TravisDuncan

    Travis Duncan

    Assert Land Development Authority for Multi-Generational Vitality-Maximization for ALL Humanity — We should no longer allow the crime of single-lifetime profit-centric entities unilaterally determining the development of land that is geologically and culturally designated for the maximization of urban density and quality of life for large populations across many generations. This farce of prior right is the root cause of the housing and affordability crisis, because these real estate developers are solely focused on the maximization of profit, despite the obvious and indisputable environmental destruction of their materials choices, building practices that exploit labor, lack of bio-field optimizing design, and the denial of basic facts about our planet’s abundance. This greed-driven focus causes a multigenerational crisis, since future generations will have to clean up the mess. This results in a major failure to reach the highest and best possible outcome for ALL people, and instead creates a hierarchical class system, high costs of living, and disjointed families unable to be emotionally present for our children. Greed is the cause of our problems. The SOLUTION: We must assert it is the people’s right to develop land for multigenerational benefit and collective sovereign use for all people, and as such, we must develop regenerative investment plans that allow developers to participate at the will of the people. In strong accordance with this principle, we will organically arrive at the maximum-outcome solutions based on the Reality that we have no scarcity of resources, and with this comes the bare minimum standards of building in a completely earth-resonant manner: net-zero, carbon-sequestering, biofield optimizing, profit-sharing income-generating, rain-water-capturing, smart-water-reuse, including natural air flow HVAC systems and optimal sunlight designs. This is how we become a city that can claim to be ecologically conscious as well as innovatively egalitarian with equitable housing access.

    We will need a variety of methods to acquire housing access, including but not limited to: Standard Purchase to Own Titles, Build-To-Own, and Contribute-to-Lease Equity Programs. We will need to offer 1st option Right-To-Return for All Indigenous Peoples with native roots to this region, as well as to displaced Austinites and their family lines within the century. This will include access to the Urban Core, as well as New Sovereign Single Family Developments equitably spread across every council district, and with ample access to public transit. The entire plan will result in Debt-Free, Utility-Bill-Free, Rent-Free, neighborhoods.

    This is one very brief example of how housing can contribute to our overall effort to Eliminate Costs of Living through Smart System Design, while Maximizing Quality of Life for ALL people, regardless of preexisting net worth.

    In a city of only 1,000,000 people, we need to increase our probabilities of success by liberating every single person from the wage clock. The idea is to provide a system of Universal Resource Access, so that in order to obtain the most basic of amenities, all an individual must do is contribute a minimum effort (3 hours per week) toward the greater good through a system of Contributionism projects. It will take a transition period of about 10-12 years maximum, but once we employ the full range of whole-system adaptations, we will make all of the following areas of our society FREE to ALL people: Water, Food, Housing, Transportation, Energy, Education & Telecommunications.

    We will become the first city on the planet to catalyze such a system, as this trend of abundance and universal resources is coming, one way or another. The cities who adopt this first will have the technological and entrepreneurial edge and be better positioned to remain resilient amongst coming global changes. This is an evolved form of capitalism, since we will shift the accumulation and trade of currency into the areas of meritocracy, innovation, arts, and entertainment. When we attain Universal Resource Access for 1,000,000 people, every single one of us can become entrepreneurial solutions-creators to solve the world’s problems, of which there are a great many we need to address.

    This is the only known way to resolve the affordability issue for good, with immediate and long term benefit, by addressing the root cause and eliminating that barrier.

    LauraMorrison

    Laura Morrison

    1. Take action to retain existing affordable housing and stem displacements: Focus immediate attention on ways to maintain existing market affordable housing and minimize displacement of residents, as recommended 1 ½ years ago by the Mayor’s Task Force on Institutional Racism and the People’s Plan. In addition, we must put existing tools to use including Local Historic Districts and Neighborhood Conservation Combining Districts and provide adequate funding for home repair programs for low-income residents.

    2. Enact a workable, community-driven plan to put affordable housing in every Austin zip code: An inclusive process will be based on targets of equitably allocated affordable housing needs across districts as well as a realistic number of new housing units Austin will need over the coming years in each district, to identify the most appropriate means for accommodating the growth and to create a feasible plan to support construction of the affordable units.

    3. Lead a Multi-City Coalition for Legislative Changes to Address Housing Costs: In addition to fixing the state’s broken school funding system, Austin should partner with other cities to repeal state statutes that currently prohibit many common affordability tools including rent stabilization, linkage fees and a higher minimum wage. Affordability problems are not unique to Austin, and Texas cities must stand together for positive change.

    ToddPhelps

    Todd Phelps

    There is no miracle cure for the housing situation in the central core that was created by the mayor and previous councils. At this point affordability starts with the tax rates and and the accumulating debt. The City cannot continue on this run away spending spree of the past 4 years. Taxes must be held to the effective tax rate or below and issuing any new debt that is not critically needed must be curtailed. The homestead exemption needs to be set at 20% as opposed to its current 10%. The city, for instance, cannot give away a 24 acre city owned piece of land worth $30 million to an out of town millionaire for a soccer stadium and ask the taxpayers to vote for a $250 million housing bond to buy $100 million of new land for affordable housing! I intend to eliminate inefficiencies and waste. I will comprehensively look at unused land that the city has and either use it for affordable housing or sell it and use the proceeds to reduce taxes. I will look to managers to be competent and to cut costs while providing quality services. As an example, the City should have been able to competently run a DNA Lab. I would avoid wasted money on litigation that is not necessary.

  • Housing Development


    Many of Austin’s young people are hungry for living spaces that are in the central core of the city, accessible by public transit, and walkable. Which policies (in the absence of a large-scale land development code, such as CodeNEXT) would you like to see enacted that would help to achieve this?


    SteveAdler

    Steve Adler

    More housing choices in urban and walkable areas is crucial to achieving affordable spaces for young people in the urban core. The city is moving toward smaller types of housing and other types of innovative shared spaces that can accommodate folks that don’t need or want more individual space. We need to expand opportunities for ADUs.

    We need to create more walkable, urban areas. We need to continue with the development of the Domain and to create more such urban core-like areas. We are continuing to implement the 2016 mobility bond and the many infrastructure changes on nine of the most trafficked corridors in Austin. These corridors will be more pedestrian and bike-friendly, as well as accommodating more frequent transit routes. By upgrading this infrastructure, the city will be ready for denser housing options along the corridors and in centers, which should enable transit to be more successful. This increases the supply and opportunity for walkable, accessible housing.

    Transit is crucial to living a car-free lifestyle. After a couple years of work and community engagement, a draft, regional strategic high capacity transit layout, Project Connect, will be widely announced on October 1. For the first time, we’ll consider a regional transit plan and the need for dedicated pathways. It is important that, as a community, we come to consensus about that plan.

    TravisDuncan

    Travis Duncan

    The city failed to produce any land development code rewrites because they attempted to do it large-scale. What we need is a Step By Step Land Development Rewrite process, where we address each issue ONE at a time. We “lay one brick perfectly each day.” This way we can assess the work done through the CodeNEXT process, and in order of most urgently needed, find consensus and pass each item one by one. This way we can see immediate results on projects happening now.

    More broadly, we should aim to make our land use code constantly adaptable, fluidly meeting the real-time needs and evolution of building and development. We learn new things every single job that goes up, and so our code department should constantly be studying the data, coordinating with builders, and updating the council on recommended adjustments. This process should be open sourced and directly linked to meet the maximum expression of abundance for all people.

    We do need to address the code now, and the first item we need to change, that sadly no one has proposed in any of the drafts, is to Mandate that ALL new construction be net-zero, carbon-sequestering, rain-water-capturing, smart-water-reuse, natural air-flowing, sunlight and biofield optimizing designs. This is a reasonable mandate, since it follows the non-aggression principle of ensuring no sovereignty is ever violated, including that of the soil, the rivers, the air, and all the living creatures we share Earth with.
    We also need a Rapid Acceleration of Transportation Infrastructure construction, and we have a plan to cut the construction time dramatically, so we can move from project to project without being delayed by corrupt and fraudulent contracts with ineffective builders. It’s worth noting that across every neighborhood of this city, people have been waiting and waiting for DECADES for simple things like bike lanes, ADA compliant sidewalks and park access, and simple turn lanes at busy intersections. We don’t have the time to keep twiddling our thumbs. We need to get to work.
    THE SOLUTION: Incentivized Volunteer Contributionism – Simply, we have tools, either through elimination of utility costs, tax exemptions, or any other relevant and consensus-reached benefit, to incentivize a group of people in our city to become the Greater Good Coalition of Valued Leaders in Our Community. These are people who will be given dignity, respect, and public recognition for their contributions, who will help us for ALL sorts of activities that benefit the community. In a city of roughly 1,000,000 people, we will easily find 10,000 people (0.01%of population) who want to get free electricity somehow. If each one of these people only donates 3 hours of their time per week, we could have 1,428 people volunteering each day, which breaks down to 285 people contributing each hour, if we work from 6am to 9pm. Of course we can configure this however is relevant to the task at hand. For example, if an area of road needed to be built, these 10,000 people will be organized into micro-teams, who specialize in micro-tasks, who meet over the course of 12-14 weeks (1 day a week) to learn safety, procedure, and master that one tiny little job. They will master this job. Then, once the time comes for construction, once every team is ready, every team will go in order of their task, and carry it out effectively. When 10,000 people descend on a project in a very organized manner, it will get done much quicker, and with much more community heart. We have the ability to achieve much more through cooperation and abundant mindset. Imagine the economic benefit we receive by completing a major intersection project in 2 weeks, verses 2 years.

    Aside: This is very important. This alone should get every person in Austin to vote for me. Frankly, there are a lot of very confused people in this city who need a wake up call. The city has FAILED and they have no intention of truly working for the people. Let’s not get it twisted folks. This is a game to them, not to me. I am actually here because I want people to be FREE. It’s a major bummer to live in a world where people are basically enslaved to a wage clock and where everyone drives around in our polluting cars stressed out eating our polluted food trying to make a buck to pay to live in our polluted homes only to wind up 40 years later still in debt and sick in a polluted hospital….All because we can’t seem to vote for the right people….

    For All transportation infrastructure updates, we need an Open-Source Citizen-Derived Solutions-Modelling Platform, so we can increase our probability of finding the Absolute Best solutions. It is incumbent upon us to create this system like a game of sorts, a IBM Watson/Google Maps/Sims/City-Builder game, that will allow ANY citizen to create a virtual simulation of how they would design solutions for our transportation infrastructure, and then model the outcomes using past, present, and any probable future traffic patterns. These designs can be uploaded publicly for our entire community to engage with them, revise and republish, and upvote their favorites. Artificial Intelligence, quantum computing, and hive-mind awareness will help us find the most desired outcomes more easily, and most effectively minimize risk by maximizing our probabilities of finding the absolute best solution available. Through a process of full-sovereignty consensus, the community will decide exactly the solution that works best.

    Our transportation needs are quite straightforward. We need to build an advanced urban rail system that travels along every major street and has a dedicated, non obstructed lane of travel. In fact, our entire road system needs to rearranged to prioritize non-obstructed roadways for every mode of travel. We will likely need multi-level buildouts to accomplish this. The more dense the area vertically, the more appropriately this reflects in the transportation network. Branching out from the urban rail will be a network of busses or large pods for amounts of people down lesser travelled, still major roads. Then, once we get into the home areas, we have a network of neighborhood-dedicated autonomous shuttles that take people from their homes and to the larger transit stops, and vice versa. This entire system is 24 hours, because it meets the real-time needs of the ridership. It runs on magnetic new energy technology powered renewably, so there is essentially no cost (plus our regenerative profit-sharing industries can pay for any maintenance or update costs) after the initial investment. This system essentially makes the need for a car completely obsolete, because you can literally travel everywhere in the transit network. A key aspect of this is the advent of smarter roadway design, which allows for Constant-Flow Traffic. You can imagine this like an over-under-looping network of roadways that redefine intersections. There will be no more stopping, no more red lights, only smart and safe merging. One could drive their own car, but it would be in the best interest of safety that this personal vehicle yield its control to the autonomous communication network. (this system has NO deaths) This brings us to the most pressing concern of pedestrian and bike/scooter access. Of course, the ultimately TRUE walkability is when the roads become completely free for human walking, so there is literally never a chance of a person being hit by a car, bus, or train ever, because they are always shielded from the roads where these modes transport beings. Access points will only open when vehicles are stopped. Bikes will need to follow a dedicated path, most likely separate from scooters even. The biggest caveat to all of this is that each area of the city will require different needs, and nothing should be rigidly and universally applied everywhere.

    LauraMorrison

    Laura Morrison

    Unfortunately, the influx of an increasingly affluent population combined with market forces and higher property taxes have resulted in rising housing costs for Austin residents of all ages with no sign of a slowdown. This is especially true of new high-density projects on corridors in the central city, which are often luxury market-rate units with rents to match. Experts have told us that it is virtually impossible to build our way to affordability in these market conditions, noting that as soon rents or sales prices begin to fall, developers will simply stop building. To make matters worse, Texas law prohibits common affordability tools used in other states such as rent stabilization, inclusionary zoning and linkage fees. Sadly, Texas is now the only state in the U.S. that still prohibits inclusionary zoning for affordable housing.

    That said, there are some actions we can take to support affordable housing for young people and others in the central core, and to promote walkability and transit access citywide: work with large employers to encourage partnerships to provide workforce housing; employ Community Land Trusts (CLTs); establish a land-banking program; and promote Complete Communities citywide.

    ToddPhelps

    Todd Phelps

    The recent Mobility Bond passed in 2016 was supposed to address accessibility primarily in the central core. The practices of increased density have not created more affordable housing . Building and permitting practices need to be seriously streamlined. They increase costs. Density bonuses need to be used for improvement in an expedited manner. Transit oriented corridors should be developed with neighborhood input. Serious collaboration needs to take place with Cap Metro.

  • Affordability

    A lot of attention is focused around Austin’s (generally young) tech sector, but there are many millennials in Austin that are just scraping by, while also dealing with the overwhelming challenge of student debt. Which policies would you like to see enacted that could increase affordability in Austin and allow our city’s young people to find quality jobs and establish families right here in Austin, without being forced out of the city?


    SteveAdler

    Steve Adler

    This council has made a lot of progress on affordability issues. We should continue building the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, into which we have increased contributions by 540% since 2015. In that same time period, 2,000 income restricted units have been built and there are another 5,000 in the pipeline.

    We’re working to encourage the University of Texas to build more dormitories on its campus so as to reduce demand for off-site housing.

    We’ve created the Austin Housing Conservancy which is now engaging in purchasing workforce housing and maintain it at costs that rise with incomes (and not the market) with the first closing happening within the week.

    Paid sick leave, while controversial, will help a lot of young people working at the margins be able to stay in the city. Parental leave and living wages are two things we have done at the city, and we’ll continue to work to keep pushing the envelope for employees at the city so that they can live in the city they work for.

    At the same time, we need to train folks to match the open jobs in our city. We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation and a very tight labor market, but there are still 30,000 jobs that need workers. That’s why I’m proud to have worked on and now enacted the region’s first Workforce Plan along with County Judge Sarah Eckhardt. We’ll be training 30,000 people in new middle skill jobs and lifting 10,000 Austinites out of poverty while training them to match the jobs we have available here.

    I’ll continue to support workforce development that trains and places Austinites into jobs like skilled trades, which pay very well but often get overlooked by those in the city.

    TravisDuncan

    Travis Duncan

    First, we must do everything we can to advocate on behalf of our young people for the Federal Government to forgive and erase student loan debt. This is a moral imperative for our nation, and we must lead the effort to build a multi-city encouragement effort to accomplish this. We must remember that deregulation by the federal government in the area of tuition costs and lending caused this problem in the first place. We need to get control over this issue and stop the fraud and abuse of young people.

    Explore Land Tax – There are many who call for a land tax to shift the burden away from renters and homeowners, onto the industries and commercial properties, so instead of the building and land being taxed, we only tax land use, so residential is very small, and businesses are taxed in relation to their commercial production, so it more evenly appropriates the tax burden. This would obviously need to be determined in cooperation with the county and state. Constantly being at odds with the state isn’t helping anyone. We need to figure this out and lead so all Texans can feel relief.

    Once again, Universal Resource Access is the only known method of literally eliminating cost of living for all people and addressing affordability at the root cause, and once established will solve the issue in perpetuity. In Austin, with a whole system approach is probable within 10-12 years, but only if you elect me mayor. Since this is a transitional system, and we are providing immediate relief opportunities for all people to reduce costs by contributing to the volunteer force, and within this system they can literally build themselves a home that requires no maintenance or utility costs, and only requires a consistent minimal cooperative effort amongst the community, there are only positive outcomes. We will, one by one, brick by brick, person by person, alleviate our struggle through our high-consciousness cooperative effort. This is made possible because we work within the current framework of high motivation for behavior: money. Since people can put in very little effort and get an instant and high return on that time investment, we will be able to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people across every different sector and need of the city: organic farming in every neighborhood, cleaning up trash everywhere, maintaining parks, building homes & transportation infrastructure, building community FREE water fill stations, renovating people’s homes, participating in the cooperative business network, or literally any project we deem worthy of our effort and focused action.

    LauraMorrison

    Laura Morrison

    I am deeply concerned about millennials and Austinites of all ages who have not shared in our city’s recent financial success. As noted above, the influx of thousands of highly compensated tech workers has skewed our housing market in favor of the financially fortunate, while wages for many equally important jobs – teachers, service industry workers, childcare givers, cashiers – have not kept pace with Austin’s rising costs. Unfortunately, Texas law prohibits cities from enacting livable wage ordinances for private employers above the federal minimum and, as previously noted, also prohibits many common affordable housing tools.

    That said, there are some actions the city can take to help ease these pressures:

    1. Commit to a plan to put a fair share of affordable housing in every Council District, recognizing that each district should contain a mix of housing for varied income levels and should consider such factors as access to transit, health care, schools, groceries and other basic services.

    2. Work toward a functional multi-modal transit system, including high capacity transit, more bike and bus lanes and an improved pedestrian infrastructure, to reduce the need for expensive personal vehicles.

    3. Ensure anti-displacement policies are a key part of growth planning to avoid displacement of low-income residents as properties are redeveloped.

    4. Ensure fair treatment at Austin Energy. Whether you own or rent, utility costs are a regular part of every household budget. As a Council Member, I helped create an equitable rate system, developed criteria for payment assistance and mandated impartial hearings on customer disputes at Austin Energy to help keep utility costs down for Austin residents.

    5. Maintain the living wage policy for city workers, city contractors, part-time city employees and construction workers on projects that receive additional entitlements from the city. As a Council Member, I played a key role in adopting this important measure, which has had positive ripple effects for many workers.

    ToddPhelps

    Todd Phelps

    General affordability issues as previously addressed are relevant here. More lane miles are necessary for busses to operative in a cost effective and time saving nature if we expect people to change their driving habits. If it is not less costly to ride mass transit and if mass transit is not convenient and time saving it is unlikely driving habits will change. New technologies need to be explored.

  • Economic Development

    How would you balance the City’s efforts to continue to attract and manage the re-location of large businesses with our desire to maintain a vibrant local business, art, and music community?


    SteveAdler

    Steve Adler

    There is a special spirit and soul in Austin that we need to protect. At its core, Austin is creative, entrepreneurial, artistic, early-adopter and welcoming. We’re also the live music capital of the world. If we lost what makes us special, we’ll no longer be Austin. We’d grow into an even bigger city, but we’d become a city that consumes art instead of a city that creates art. We can’t let that happen.

    With the recent news that Austin’s GDP is growing more than three times the national average, it’s clear that our challenge is not attracting large corporations. These companies come here because of who we are, not because we’re incenting them to come here.

    But incentives are a tool we can use to help preserve who we are. This 10-1 council just passed historic economic incentive reform that will focus incentives on direct community benefits, especially toward local, small and medium businesses that hire and train folks that live here. And the community benefits to which we’d be driving resources include creating spaces for creatives, musicians and artists. The council’s recently passed budget included such monies and even more such monies are part of the November bond election.

    We need to protect iconic music venues and we’re making progress on a mini-bond tool that will enable us to crowd source purchases. If we are unable to keep young artists and musicians in our city, we’re going to be in trouble. That’s part of the reason we reformed our incentive process.

    I’m proud to have passed the Music and Creative Omnibus Resolution that has initiated and put into effect measures to support this community and better create the verticals that make these industries and careers sustainable.

    Having big companies is not inconsistent with protecting our vibrant local scene. But we need to be diligent and intentional to maintain it.

    TravisDuncan

    Travis Duncan

    Economy as a broader context

    We don’t need anyone else’s company to have a vibrant economy. We need to foster our entrepreneurs and invest in the people who live here. We need to support the creation of the next Facebook, Amazon, Tesla, Google, Apple right here in Austin. There is a new wave coming, and none of these companies are invincible or eternally relevant. There are always ways to innovate and provide better than what these companies might offer. Granted, they are here, and we appreciate them because they’ve opened our eyes. They are welcome to be here obviously, but what I’m suggesting is that we don’t need to spend an ounce of energy focusing on how to help them want to be here. We need to focus on investing in the maximum quality of life outcome for every human being of Austin, while providing every person the access to innovative tools and technology that will empower them to create their own entrepreneurial vision.

    FREE WIFI – We could have a free Wifi network for the entire city, and frankly we aren’t a free city until we do. In the age of the internet, where information in king, if anyone has less access than another it is an immediate indicator of vast inequity. The reality is that (among the biologically harming radio frequencies they use) the internet service providers are manufacturing a scarcity simply to charge us and make billions of dollars. All we need to do is own the towers ourselves, and since we have an abundant amount of electricity that is 100% renewable and immune to EMP (did I mention this?) we can supply this at very little if at no cost. We can just finance the towers ourselves and then once they are paid for, we (THE PEOPLE, NOT the corporation of City of Austin) own it! This is an imperative, and frankly every day it continues not inexistence we are causing crimes against our own sisters and brothers. The sooner we all get connected to each other, the sooner we will reach a higher level of unified empathy for the collective human experience and reach world peace.

    Cooperative Profit-Sharing Business Alliance – This is essentially a parallel revenue stream for the decentralized peoples; Fund which will eventually (over perhaps centuries?) replace the need for government altogether. However, we are here NOW and WE need REGENERATIVE REVENUE Streams. Our current government provides all ‘services’ (hmmm…rendered like a business) to us at the cost of EXTRACTIVE methods, like taxes, tolls, tickets, fines, fees, and all manner of grievances. It’s a stupid, unsustainable, and non-resilient method, and unfortunately were addicted to it like a bunch of Tax Addicts. So, we need a Parallel system of generating revenue for a PEOPLE’s FUND, that will transitionally and methodically transition the expenses that government is tasked with handling. Like…dealing with all our sewage, trash, and everything else. Especially in the areas of public health, education, and community infrastructure we are lacking heavily. Our governments have very little heart, because there is always “not enough money” according to them. Well, let’s just work together on the weekends and come up with some amazing shit and then sell it to the world and make billions of dollars. Imagine the possibilities for cooperative people-owned profit sharing businesses: social media apps that don’t invade your privacy, are tokenized, protect your data, offer more intuitive features; ANY hemp derived-product including building materials, food, cleaning supplies, plastics, medicines, and so much more; advanced material sciences for global solutions in replacing environmentally catastrophic micro-petro-plastics (which Adler and Morrison have kept alive btw); advanced healing modalities and medical innovation; new defense technology that temporarily debilitates and detains but does not maim or kill; new energy technology; energy storage innovations (perhaps we can reverse the toxic carbon process of the Fayette coal plant, as some have suggested, to explore a graphene storage); electric vehicle and autonomous roadway tech; and so on… Basically we find an agreement that we will pool resources, the city will provide space and the network, and the people will redefine our perceived limitations of experience in this universe. Then we profit share when the product is created. Perhaps one model can be thirds: 1/3 to the People (all citizens equal profit sharing); 1/3 to the People’s Fund (for new projects and funding social services); 1/3 to the investors/equity contributors who made the project possible. Doing this in a whole system approach makes the benefit undeniable; When every citizen at least receives a partial share of the entire profit, it deepens our connection to the importance and relevance of our cooperative ventures. The People’s Fund is obvious as we need more money to invest. The investors might mean they invested with a building, land, resources, money, intellectual property, or equity contribution to the project, meaning they were one of the people who actually worked on the project. All that is required of the Contributors to do is give 3-6 hours per week, and we rotate and spread the burden of labor, so many of us work a little, and get high return from that investment. Each contribution is tied to the Free electricity (or other full-sovereignty community consensus derived incentives) and an earning of the parallel and simultaneous currency, the Austin Coin (below). So the benefit is immediate, and because the projects are decided by the people based on what is the most viable for maximum profit, the imperative for maximum success excites the energy of all sorts of people. Everyone can contribute in some way, and everyone is welcome in the entire Cooperative People Owned Profit Sharing Business Alliance. All citizens have equal ownership of this “company”. Doing it this way, the thirds model, which is very inspired by the Ubuntu Contributionism One Small Town model, makes it simple.

    Our current extractive budget is over $4,000,000,000. Perhaps after 2-3 years of the cooperative business alliance, the regenerative profit sharing could generate more than that. Given if we are able to solve such massive world problems, and then export those solutions to the world, we will make hundreds of billions. $100,000,000,000 – Imagine that budget. Imagine that profit sharing. Imagine a city of economically FREE millions of people – no taxes, no costs, all profits, all solutions, all abundance.

    Basically, if we make Austin one big company that we all equally own, we can outperform anyone in the entire global market. This is an evolved form of capitalism, a cooperative and dignified capitalism, because it celebrates the highest potential achievement of every single human being. Every person is their own genius. This way, when we export this model to the world, it will be in unity, in peace and cooperative spirit, and we will simply illuminate the planet with abundance.

    So most people have a hard time believing that is even possible, because they have such little love for self that they don’t believe in their own abilities, and this creates a belief system that distorts what is possible. We must expand ourselves and lift each other up. The mayor is ALWAYS supposed to encourage the highest possible ideas, and perpetuate a belief system of YES ALL IS POSSIBLE, anything less won’t cut it. WE NEED THE BEST MINDSET.

    Also, a great thing about this system is that is completely Parallel to the current system and it does not extract anything from our current so-called economy. This is ALL regenerative investment!

    The Austin Coin is a very interesting tool we may use in a very similarly linked way to our Contributionism Volunteer Network and the Business Alliance, in that each time a Contributor ‘logs’ a ‘time segment’ (3-6 hours), they create a Token/Coin = 1 AustinCoin. This AustinCoin is theirs. A twin AustinCoin is created from theirs in real time, and this goes to the people’s fund. These AustinCoins are not meant to be ecahgend to access resources for the locals, but rather to act as equity tokens in the building of Austin’s growing cooperative super-abundance. This abundance will be like nothing the planet has seen, and will generate lots of value around this token. This is the first Abundance currency (not scarcity), because everyone earns it the same way, only one way, no ones labor can ever be taken advantage of, and the speculative trading value of the token can never decrease the abundance of the local holders of that token. AustinCoins can ONLY be purchased during a limited trading window, perhaps the first week of every fiscal year. Local Austin residents who create AustinCoins, and then the People’s Fund, can sell their AustinCoins if they choose. If no one sells the first year, it just becomes that much more in demand. Each trading window after the other could be a boon for local residents. Those who are able to buy AustinCoins on the open exchange may see very promising returns over several years, much like many did with Bitcoin and Ethereum, and the AustinCoin is actually linked to projects and tangible value of living. Spectators could buy at 1 AustinCoin = $0.00453, and in several years it could be 1 AustinCoin = $4762.37. For a local resident, if they only work 1 segment per week (which will get them free benefits and more) they will have created 52 AustinCoins in a year. If someone saves them over 5 years of the project at $4762.37, they have $1,238,216.20 . Even if it takes 10 years to get there, this is literally a way we can utilize Cooperative Abundance to generate massive Financial Wealth for ANY person in Austin.

    Universal Resource Access + Cooperative Profit Sharing Business + AustinCoin
    = a city of millions of free millionaires, all living their purpose in maximum abundance

    LauraMorrison

    Laura Morrison

    As Mayor, I will continue my leadership in addressing this balance through the many aspects of the challenge.

    1. Ensure adequate resources to promote and support local businesses. Local businesses are the backbone of our community. As a Council Member, I took the following actions to promote their success, and will continue to seek additional supports and resources as mayor.

    • Productive Partnerships: Facilitated a partnership between Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau and Austin Independent Business Alliance to enhance tourism while promoting local businesses.
    • Reduced Regulatory Impediments: Revised regulations to allow vending and signs on sidewalks for South Congress merchants. Minimized impacts of proposals for metal recyclers’ regulations.
    • Innovative Loans: Created a guaranteed loan program for local businesses, including a collateral pool for small businesses and minority- and women-owned businesses.
    • Support for Local Vendors: Encouraged the City of Austin to give preference to local vendors when appropriate for city contracts.

    2. Maintain strong city support for the creative industries. As the parent of a musician, I’m deeply aware of the need for policies that nurture our local music, film, theater and art scenes. During my service as a City Council Member, I played a lead role in the following initiatives to support Austin’s creative community, a commitment I’ll continue as mayor.

    • Cultural Master Plan: Led the effort for a formal endorsement of the CreateAustin Plan, providing a roadmap to enhance Austin as a cultural and creative center.
    • Creative Industries Ambassadors Program: Led music delegation to Austin’s Sister City, Oita, Japan. Initiated a new program to enhance Austin artists’ experiences when touring and to promote Austin as a tourist destination.
    • Live Music: Led the collaborative effort to revise processes for music venue sound permits, marking the first time the music community and neighborhood activists found common ground to develop positive solutions.
    • Live Theater: Facilitated a reliable long-term funding source for the Zilker Hillside Theatre.
    • The MACC: Ensured that an adjacent parcel of land could be incorporated into the Mexican American Cultural Center, removing the threat of inappropriate private development.

    3. Don’t be a cheap date. Austin is highly attractive on its own merits. In this period of explosive growth, there is no need to offer property tax breaks or other subsidies to lure more corporations here, especially when doing so puts a greater tax burden on the rest of us. Any economic incentive package that is offered should contain a robust local hiring requirement and/or support for affordable housing, whether in the form of onsite units or a financial contribution to support housing elsewhere.

    4. Continue to monitor special event costs. During my Council service, I led the effort to require an analysis of the direct and indirect costs of for-profit special events so that Austin taxpayers do not have to subsidize them. As Austin grows, we must keep a close eye on these expenses to ensure for-profit ventures do not diminish city resources that could otherwise be used to support local businesses and our creative community.

    ToddPhelps

    Todd Phelps

    Equity for current businesses is essential. Tax incentives should only be given to new out of town businesses if there is a critical need for certain types of jobs. I could not recommend total tax abatements such as the Mayor offered for the soccer stadium. I would like to start a serious collaborative effort with the small business community to get their input as to what I could most effectively do to keep them in Austin.

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