Texas Decides 2018 Voters Guide
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Voters Guide

Austin City Council District 1

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    Mitrah Elizabeth 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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    Misael D. Ramos - Write-In

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    Mariana Salazar

  • Reedy Macque Spigner III

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Biographical Information

What policies do you support to make Austin a more affordable place to live for all residents?

Explain what important aspects of the land development code revision you support

What is your top environmental concern and how would you address it?

What are the most critical issues in your district and how will you address them?

Background I was born and raised in east Austin and am product of east and central Austin schools, including Trinity Preschool, Lee Elementary, and Kealing.
Education Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy and Political Science, Yale University; Master of Science, Comparative Policy and Government, Oxford University
The original, unamended Texas Constitution banned taxpayer financing of for-profit private development. Due to relatively recent amendments, half a billion dollars of public money has subsidized private development in Austin in the last 10-15 years. This abusive misuse of public money has created an affordability problem in East Austin. "Imagine Austin,” Austin’s Comprehensive growth plan, needs to be reevaluated and the appraisal process for property tax purposes needs to be reformed.
I do not support any aspects of the land development code (CodeNEXT) in the context in which it’s been introduced. Rezoning neighborhoods for commercial development adversely impacts neighborhood character and contributes to unaffordability and displacement Many neighborhoods are in need of revitalization rather than commercial development. CodeNEXT conflates one with the other.
Austin is subject to flooding and drought. Thus water conservation and impervious cover are my top environmental concerns. Existing watershed protections are insufficient and need to be strengthened. The process of introducing environmental resources into the City’s official database is illogical; currently Austin depends on developers to tell the City about its environmental resources, such as springs. Austin’s database of environmental resources should be based on scientific studies, not developer notification.
Unmonitored development is a critical issue in district one and throughout the City of Austin. The approvals process for future development needs to be preceded by environmental impact studies. Another critical issue is the loss of district one’s African American population. In one single decade, there was a 14.5% decrease. The solution is to revise the City’s Comprehensive Plan and address unfair home appraisals.
Background Lewis Conway, Jr. is the first formerly incarcerated person to run for office in Texas. He is a husband, father, and organizer.
Education Associates Degree - Western Texas College
Let's create an Austin that works for working people. I propose that we institute a community land trust program that would create truly affordable housing. I propose that we create a healthcare pilot program that would guarantee health coverage to citizens of District 1, modeled after a successful ten-year program, Healthy San Francisco. I propose that we institute a Municipal Jobs Guarantee, creating living wage jobs for people unable to find work in the job market. Finally, we must expand and improve our public transportation in order to reduce the need to maintain a personal vehicle.
CodeNext is not the answer to our problems. I believe that we must make changes in order to have affordability, environmental justice, and to create a city that works for everyone. I believe that we should invest in public housing options to increase our housing stock and reduce our homeless population. I believe that we should rethink our zoning to allow for more diverse properties, creating sustainable neighborhoods. Finally, I believe that we should lead in participatory democracy by allowing the people to determine their own zoning laws by putting these issues on the ballot.
Climate change and environmental destruction is a threat to our communities in Austin. While the people at the top create the worst impacts on our climate, the people at the bottom reap the consequences. We can lead by being one of the greenest communities in the country and create a truly equitable environmental plan. We must transition to 100% renewable energy by 2035. That means investing in community-owned solar farms, improving energy efficiency, reducing our carbon footprint, and reducing our dependence on personal vehicles. Let's be a leader in this challenge, not a follower.
Lack of healthcare and healthcare facilities are a major issue for East Austin. Our DistriCare plan, a pilot universal healthcare program for East Austin residents, will eliminate this long standing inequity. Secondly, property taxes have driven and are driving folks out of their neighborhoods, communities and homes. We will address this issue by advocating to keep our taxes in our schools and our city. Finally, we must work to not only reduce crime, but reverse the conditions that create it. We must end cash bail, treat arrests as a last resort, and support treatment over incarceration.
Background Vincent is a first-generation college graduate, public servant, and the former Chair of Austin's Board of Adjustment & Travis County Democratic Party.
Education University of Texas School of Law (Juris Doctorate) University of Houston (Major: Political Science; Minor: Global Business)
Austin can address affordability in at least a few main ways: income, housing, and infrastructure. City bonds and the budget can provide “affordable” and low-income housing plus amending our code to provide less expensive housing options. Job education programs at low to no cost combined with low to no cost childcare can help people receive the required training to obtain higher paying jobs. Transportation and utility costs are aspects of affordability and we should seek to improve mass transit and lower utility costs. I will keep advocating for school finance changes to lower property taxes.
The next code should provide greater density on corridors, missing middle housing behind it, and protect the neighborhoods to prevent further displacement. Austin should tailor the fee in lieu option and not have same fee for different areas. Neighborhoods and stakeholders should work to develop smaller minimum lot size requirements to help decrease the land cost component of building a house. Further, the next code should remove conflicts and provide a ranking of which section of the code supersedes another section of the code. Each District should absorb their fair share of development.
Concerns regarding adequate water supply, water quality, water costs, and prevention of water flooding are very important environmental concerns. Implementing the final version of the Water Forward plan will be essential for the next Council Member. Including Green Stormwater Infrastructure, keeping more storm water onsite, and considering porous pavement and green roofs are things that can positively impact water. I support bond dollars for flood risk reduction, drainage improvements, and acquiring water quality protection lands. Lower "lifeline" water costs for Austin customers is important.
Affordability, transportation, health care, criminal justice reform, and education are critical issues in District 1. I want to improve affordability by focusing on housing, income, and infrastructure. Austin should improve transportation efficiency and experiences by dedicating pathways for mass transit to decrease travel times and decrease wait times. The life expectancy in 78724 is about fifteen years less than 78703. Austin should work to improve lives by increasing access to health care and healthy food. We must work to improve relationships between law enforcement and the community.
Background I’m a native Austinite, wife, mom and thriving cancer survivor. A passionate, resourceful problem solver with special interests in community advocacy.
Education I studied Communications, Business Administration and Journalism at Arizona State University West.
Passing the Affordable Housing Bond is a good start. We can also drive housing costs lower by increasing the number of available homes in Austin. We need a new, simplified land development code that legalizes the construction of more affordable housing types like fourplexes and townhomes in all parts of our city and streamlines the permitting process. We need practical public transit options. Affordable housing isn’t affordable if transportation costs are too high. Additionally, wages haven’t kept pace with cost of living increases. I support Austin maintaining a liveable minimum wage.
I want to work with old and new neighbors to preserve what makes Austin unique while ensuring our city has a future that's affordable and accessible. We need a new, simplified land development code that facilitates the creation of walkable neighborhoods, efficient transit and neighborhood amenities like small grocery stores, childcare facilities, and green spaces. A code that legalizes the development of gentle density by-right, and eliminates minimum lot size restrictions and unnecessary minimum parking requirements that create impervious cover and high costs for small businesses and housing.
We must confront the reality of climate change. As a city, land–use is arguably the most pervasive force driving the degradation of our ecosystems. Factors like emissions and increased exposure to flood hazards are permitted by our city’s current land use and transportation patterns which are fundamentally unsustainable. Electric cars and other technological solutions can help, but we can achieve a much greater reduction in carbon emissions by updating our land development code to minimize sprawl and to create a more compact, connected city with walkable, transit-accessible communities.
Affordability, equity, and economic mobility are the most critical issues facing D1. I will find creative approaches to affordable housing while deploying tools to encourage considerate development.

I will address the criminalization of poverty by reducing or eliminating fines and fees related to minor offenses, combat predatory lending, and advocate for fair systems that address intergenerational poverty, access to healthcare, quality education, and civic engagement.

I will ensure Austin invests in families through food access, reliable, affordable child care, and transportation.
Background Community Outreach (Foreclosure Prevention) - 5/2014 to 3/2015 Business Analyst - 11/2015 to 9/2018
Education Bachelor of Science in Psychology
Preserving the identities of our neighborhoods and keeping them affordable is my number one goal. As council member for District 1, my goal is to have our neighborhoods adopt design standards and for some, push for Historical Preservation designations. These initiatives will help keep neighborhoods affordable by ensuring new builds within a community aren’t over inflating home values. Neighborhoods deemed historical also see tax breaks for 7-10 years. I'll also push for regulation on new condo regimes so that for every 3 units built, 1 is created for low-income families.
I do agree with adding more density to the outskirts of Austin but the problem I had with the revision was that only East Austin was being zoned as "high density". There are parts of the district we can add density to but we have to ensure we're not over densifying our urban core and displacing people that have been there for generations.
In East Austin we've been seeing our fair share of flooding especially in areas by Little Walnut Creek. I would like to conduct more watershed studies to figure out a better way to create anti-flooding measures in areas susceptible to flash floods.
The most critical issues we’re facing are preserving the identities of our neighborhoods and keeping them affordable. The preservation measures I spoke on in the affordability question will help us achieve our goal of keeping the rich history of East Austin intact. I'm also an advocate for most measures in the People's Plan and would like to adopt some them such as "The right to stay and return". East Austin schools also need a fair shot and I plan to work with AISD so we can receive more funding for classroom upgrades, after school programs, and the addition of academies.
Background Mother, immigrant & public servant with 15 years of experience in affordable housing, community development, community organizing & ending homelessnes
Education B.A. in Economics with Management from Ohio Wesleyan University (Summa Cum Laude) and Master in Public Affairs from Princeton University
As a working mother raising two children in East Austin, I know how tough it can be for a family to make a living in our city. As a city council member, I will collaborate with the Austin community to address the affordability crisis by: promoting more affordable housing options for renters and homeowners, and preventing further economic displacement, promoting affordable child care & creating universal Pre-K, expanding public transit, sidewalks, bike lanes, and other mobility infrastructure, and promoting access to higher paying jobs with benefits through workforce development.
As an immigrant, I want a see an inclusive city that works for everyone and makes room for families like mine. I also value affordability, creating a more compact and connected city, and growing our city in an environmentally sustainable way. I support facilitating the construction of more housing units in a compact way by removing barriers like minimum lot size & parking requirements, upzoning along Imagine Austin/transit corridors and improving efficiency of the permitting processes. The code revisions should be coupled with comprehensive policies to address affordability and displacement.
Carbon emissions cause catastrophic & extreme weather events, and in Austin, we see the effects of climate change in flash floods, droughts & rising heat. To reduce carbon emissions we should: build better public transit to reduce reliance on single occupancy vehicles, use more electric vehicles in the city fleet & electric buses by CAPMETRO, reduce sprawl and develop in a compact manner & reuse, recycle and compost to reduce our carbon footprint. We should also build resilience to droughts by diversifying our water supply and reduce impervious covers to fight the impacts of flooding.
I will address the affordability crisis, by increasing affordable housing, preventing further economic displacement, increasing affordable childcare options, and expanding public transit and mobility infrastructure. To address lack of economic opportunity, I will work to improve workforce development to provide access to higher paying jobs with benefits. To address lack of inclusion, I will work to develop better access to healthcare and healthy food options, mobile integrated healthcare, high-quality parks and recreation programming, and inclusion in Austin City Hall’s decision-making.
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