Texas Decides 2018 Voters Guide
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Voters Guide

Austin City Council District 9

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  • Isiah Jones

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    Linda O'Neal

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    Danielle Skidmore

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    Kathryne "Kathie" Tovo

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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?

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Background I was born in Vietnam, grew up in Austin, went to college at Texas State, started my own business, but then realized that teaching was my passion.
Education Texas State University
We must protect renters from steep unexpected rent increases and encourage developers to build affordable housing with more oversight. 1,450 units of affordable housing will be built over the next decade, that number needs to be around 60,000 to meet demand. Revisit Lease-to-Purchase plans. Cleveland has the largest lease-to-purchase network and most participants have transitioned into homeownership. Cleveland uses Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, buys cheap rental properties, and then offers these homes for rent at an affordable price. At the end of 15-years, renters earn equity for their home
We need to make room for our new residents, but we need to regulate growth so that that the health of our citizens and the environment is protected. That means we regulate demolitions, minimizing lead dust, that means we renovate older apartment units rather than tearing them down. There were plenty of people who were not urbanists or preservationists, who wanted to learn more about CodeNext, but when they did their research, the information out there was clear as mud. The city needs to engage with those in the middle as much as they engaged with the "urbanists" and "preservationists".
Flooding due to extreme weather is a costly problem. We need to invest in storm drains, but more importantly, we need to rethink how we pave low-traffic roads. Impervious cover, cutting down trees and foliage, are major contributors to our flood problem. We need to use permeable cover, such as pavers, concrete, and asphalt, in low-traffic areas. The impervious cover also contributes to the heat index. We can lower the impact of high temperatures and flooding with green roofs. We also need to regulate demolitions to limit lead dust in our air and water. Water filters in every school fountain.
Affordability and homelessness are the main issues in District 9. Housing First w/ services worked in Utah and is working in Austin with the Loaves to Fishes’ program. The cost of doing nothing is staggering b/c of the hospital-jail-shelter pipeline. A hospital stay is $4,700, an emergency visit is $1,400, an ambulance ride is $876. It is more expensive to do nothing than it is to do something. Loaves to Fishes’ program proves that giving people a chance to regain their dignity through shelter, works. Housing first works with financial education, therapy, mental services, and drug rehab.
Background I'm a special-needs parent, transportation engineer and transgender woman who's spent 24 years solving public infrastructure puzzles across Texas.
Education Bachelor of Science (BS) in Civil and Environmental Engineering from University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Major employment centers (UT, Capitol) are more accessible to those who live in central Austin but many families have been pushed out due to cost of living. Providing better public transportation options to bring workers to their jobs—with childcare options on-site or nearby to avoid additional stops—will improve affordability, if purchasing a car is no longer the only viable option. I also support the Affordable Housing bond and partnering with local nonprofits to build more multi-family housing in-district for renters, and to help homeowners better afford property taxes by allowing ADUs.
For us to improve affordability and reduce congestion in Austin, we need to make more room for people throughout the city including D9—remembering that we're not just talking about transplants from California or wherever, but new children being born here all the time. We just have to make sure that making that space comes with a real and tangible commitment to community benefits, affordable housing, and minimizing displacement of current residents in our communities. For this to occur, the process must be inclusive and all voices must be heard… We must proactively reach out to all communities.
Increased flooding has been a prevalent issue in Austin, resulting from climate change. From a policy standpoint, we need to reduce the number of vulnerable properties impacted by flooding, using programs such as buyouts where appropriate. The other piece of the flooding solution is to continue to support compact and connected cities, and to reduce sprawl. The redevelopment of existing impervious cover is better than expanding it; we must allow development to go up instead of out, which will help reduce car trips (thus greenhouse emissions) while preserving more green-space in the process.
Besides the urgent need for transit locally, in the onslaught of attacks at the state and federal level, we must stick up for our beliefs and defend Austin values. From leaving the Paris Climate Accord to pre-empting our paid sick leave ordinance, to challenging sanctuary cities and rolling back marriage equality, we must fight back and think beyond D9's borders to defends our residents. From expanding newborn screening in Texas to fighting the bathroom bill, I've always shown up for fellow Austinites and will continue to. It's time for leadership; it's time for all voices to be represented.
Background Austin City Council (since 2011); Planning Commission; Families & Children Task Force; city and AISD task forces; former university educator.
Education Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin M.A., University of Texas at Austin B.A. with Honors, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Through recapture, Austinites now pay more in property taxes to the state than to the city. The state also makes it difficult to access sales data, leading to undervalued commercial properties that shift the tax burden to residential properties. I have led on challenging the appraisal district’s undervaluation of commercial properties and have advocated for “tax swap” policies designed to defray school district costs and thus lower Austin residents’ tax burden.

I have also championed efforts to create and preserve affordable housing, including supporting the 2018 housing bond.
CodeNEXT fell short by not reflecting community feedback or many aspects of our Council-adopted neighborhood plans. Any future efforts must be community-driven and should protect existing residents while managing growth.

Going forward, I would like to expand our affordable housing bonus program and require more onsite units, increase green infrastructure requirements, strengthen flood mitigation standards, expand where transportation impact analyses apply and require them to consider pedestrian improvements, and strengthen requirements that developers build new sidewalks.
Climate change is real, causing extreme weather and threatening our water supply. Portion of response removed; did not meet criteria. I have led or helped lead on efforts to: develop ambitious renewable energy goals, nearly triple our solar portfolio, require new buildings be ‘solar ready,’ develop a 100-year plan for meeting our water needs, support President Obama’s ‘Clean Power Plan,’ and more. I look forward to continuing this work.
Homelessness: I have led on increasing city funding for individuals experiencing homelessness; enhancing services, including redesigning the ARCH emergency shelter; helping develop and pass the “Action Plan for Ending Homelessness”; advocating for public restrooms; supporting the Homeless Outreach Street Team; chairing the membership council of the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition; moving forward an innovative "Pay for Success" social finance model; and opening the Sobering Center (which will serve a broad range of Austinites, including those experiencing homelessness).