ISSUES

Image
What does an “Austin for All” look like?


What are our values and priorities as a community?
Do our policies, processes, and budget match? If not, what adjustments do we need to make to reflect our priorities?

What are the underlying causes contributing to poverty, crime, and inequity within our community?
What are the proven, effective ways of addressing these pressing issues? How can we treat them as interconnected symptoms of something more fundamental, instead of standalone problems?

Introduction


It's undeniable that the "Austin" experience isn't everyone's experience. But this isn’t new — in fact many of the most urgent issues we're facing now have existed for decades.

It’s not the first time Austin has faced big change, but it's imperative that the people who've been left behind by city policies aren't left behind again. We have an opportunity right now to achieve real change for Austin in a truly equitable and inclusive way. That's going to require bold leadership and systemic transformation. I'm the courageous, progressive Democrat that Austin needs now.


The lack of strong progressive leaders in our time of crisis has exposed flaws in our system and the vulnerability of many of our residents. Our people and communities aren’t thriving because we’re missing effective leadership. We need leaders who can take a bold stance, make bold decisions that secure Austin’s future and make it a more inclusive, welcoming city for everyone. Our leaders must strive to create an Austin for All.

The good news is that if we work together, we can make a difference. That’s why I’m running for City Council. My vision of an Austin for All starts with thinking differently about bold solutions to the problems our city faces. Let’s start by recognizing that our most urgent issues are not separate, but interconnected — when we work to address one, we in turn address the others. We also must think more broadly and creatively about those complex problems we’re facing by asking ourselves, as a community, to not only answer these questions, but tackle these tough issues impacting every one of us.

Outlined below are some of the ideas I’ve developed to not only answer these questions, but tackle these tough issues impacting every one of us.



 Make Austin

Equitable


The way our city spends money isn't solving our problems. Proven solutions to issues like poverty, crime, and homelessness are chronically underfunded; meanwhile, police are overwhelmed with responsibilities they aren’t equipped for and under immense pressure to fix everything. I’ll invest in essential community services, overhaul unequitable government policies and practices, and transform the role of law enforcement in our communities.


Poverty and crime are public health crises and our tough-on-crime, “law and order” approach isn’t working. Law enforcement experts across the country have made clear that increased police funding/staffing does not reduce crime rates — and mass incarceration not only disrupts lives, but economically devastates communities. Nevertheless our police officers shoulder the enormous burden of responding to many non-violent calls, expected to solve problems they weren’t trained for, and without access to support services. This isn’t fair to anyone.

An equitable Austin begins with examining our priorities and executing the most effective solutions to the public health crisis of poverty, crime, and racism. It’s well documented that the most effective solution is to embrace our community and funnel support to preventive services like education and health services. Access to education and affordable health and social services lift millions out of poverty and reduce the rate of violent crime and homicide — while also giving police the space to focus on responding to violent crime.

As your Councilwoman, I’ll work directly with diverse communities, particularly communities of color, to refocus our city’s priorities and budget, eliminate systemic disparities, and recreate law enforcement’s role by:

  • Restructuring the role of police in our communities
    • Overhaul cadet/officer training and ongoing professional development curriculum
    • Follow Hays County in implementing Cite and Release for all minor offenses
    • Remove police officers from schools
    • Repeal ordinances that criminalize the survival of people experiencing homelessness
    • Invest in survivor support by bolstering Victims Services department
    • End broken windows policing
    • Demilitarize law enforcement and limit the use of force
    • Develop community oversight and representation

  • Reallocating a minimum of $100M and oversight/purview to community services, organizations, and agencies, including:
    • Emergency medical services and mental health first response
    • Violence reduction and prevention (for example, funding the proposed Office of Violence Prevention)
    • Education and supplemental educational services
    • Affordable public physical and mental health services
    • Housing Security: Supporting emergency rental assistance, as well as the RISE fund; full funding for housing-first solutions for individuals experiencing homelessness
    • Improved access to and awareness of nutritious food programs, especially in Austin’s “food deserts”

  • Identifying and eliminating systemic inequities at all levels of city government
    • Increase funding to the city’s Equity Office
    • Conduct an independent, non-partisan analysis of the city government’s policies, processes, and procedures to identify opportunities for reform
    • Create accountability and transparency in government and law enforcement — set up independent internal investigation and prosecution processes, end qualified immunity, negotiate fair police union contracts


 Make Austin

Affordable


Over the last few decades, Austin’s cost of living has increased rapidly, to the point that many Austin residents struggle to make rent, much less buy a home of their own. As people move further out to find economical housing, our city sprawls out of control. This most dramatically impacts our essential workers and our communities of color. I’ll work to expand housing choices and create an affordable Austin where everyone is able to live in the neighborhood of their choice.


Did you know that more than half of Austinites rent their homes? That’s almost 20% greater than the national average! If you’re like me it’s been a struggle to realize the long-time dream of owning your own home. As property values skyrocket and the rental market creeps up to full capacity, it’s no wonder why so many of us cannot afford rent within Austin’s city limits, much less buy a home!

We need more homes. This housing shortage prices out teachers, emergency responders, and service industry workers out of our City. The musicians who are essential in making Austin “The Live Music Capital of the World” no longer live in Austin; they commute.

As a former teacher and current renter, I’ve lived this experience firsthand. Why must our essential workers live so far away from the city they serve? The solution is simple: Build more homes. Urbanize our central neighborhoods and allow diverse housing options, not just the single-family lot.

As your Councilwoman, I’ll work to build more comprehensive and inclusive housing opportunities for everyone, including:

  • Modernize the land use code to eliminate apartment bans and NCCDs in Austin’s central neighborhoods
  • Permit a diversity of housing options (ADUs, fourplexes, multi-family apartments, and multi-unit dwellings) in Austin’s central neighborhoods
  • Protect the rights of 55% of Austin’s residents by strengthening the City’s relationship with renter advocacy programs
  • Provide more homes near jobs, friends, and community through incentives for higher density housing construction
  • Invest in housing vouchers for low-income residents and residents burdened by the COVID-19 economic crisis
  • Establish permanent supportive programs to house people in our community experiencing homelessness
  • Advocate for the $300M anti-displacement and affordable housing fund from CapMetro to help out folks impacted by new construction of new transit rail lines


 Make Austin

Sustainable


Austin has many prized natural resources and a rich legacy of stewardship for its natural environment — but some of our longstanding policies on housing and transportation are, perhaps unintentionally, jeopardizing all of our hard work. Urban sprawl is quickly chipping away at the pristine Hill Country as traffic chokes the city’s arteries, and as our climate becomes more erratic we face more extreme weather. I’ll prioritize a multi-faceted approach to achieving true sustainability.


It’s expected our area will double to 4 million people in just 20 years. Now, in 2020, as climate change threatens our planet and our economic livelihood, we must bolster our efforts in preserving and sustaining our ecosystem by reexamining our policies. Our iconic green space is at risk of disappearing, and we run the risk of severe flooding and land erosion in our waterways if we don’t act now.

As your councilwoman, I’ll work to support an environmentally friendly transportation network and housing construction, as well as reform harmful land use and zoning policies.

  • Support Capital Metro’s Project Connect to provide alternative transportation options to the automobile, keeping Austin’s air clean
  • Update the Save Our Springs ordinance to more appropriately address the issue of impervious land cover on our treasured Edwards Aquifer in order to:
  • Reduce erosion and prevent flooding
  • Preserve green spaces and tree cover
  • End mandatory minimum parking requirements for new construction
  • End Exclusionary Zoning to allow more homes near jobs, friends and community, and essential services
  • Invest in District 7 parks, urban trails, and preserving other natural outdoor spaces


 Make Austin

Engaged


If civic engagement is the foundation of democracy, why is it seemingly so difficult to participate? With barriers to accessing government leaders and participating in the democratic process, it’s no wonder people are frustrated and voter turnout is so low. The change to the 10-1 system in 2014 was an important first step in giving power back. I’ll nourish our civic culture by working for a more accessible and transparent Austin that empowers everyone to take part.


No one voice should dominate the committees, commissions, and boards that guide the Mayor and City Council on decisions in the name of Austin. No Austinite should feel discouraged to exercise their vote or unrepresented by their city leaders.

The first step we can take in District 7 to that end is creating more polling locations and times, and making all of them accessible. No one should have to wait hours to make their voice heard. Next, we need to diversify leadership roles within city government to ensure fair representation for Austin residents and their lived experiences. We must also simplify the political process by creating a token system for campaign contributions, ensuring everyone has a voice.

As your Councilwoman, I’ll invest in making sure that partaking in our local democracy is accessible for everyone and that our democratic policies and processes are transparent.

  • Expand voting locations and hours in District 7 and greater Austin
  • Host City Council offices and public events in each of their respective districts
  • Create a more proactive process for collecting diverse, extensive public input
  • Commit to diverse representation at all levels of city government, particularly in leadership roles
  • Advocate for the “Democracy Dollars” election funding proposal, a “token” system that empowers all eligible voters to support the candidates of their choice and makes the campaign fundraising process more transparent
  • Fight to make our voting system more fair by supporting ranked choice voting in order to eliminate run-off races (which typically have poor turn-out)
  • Represent all residents’ voices by overhauling the political/campaign process, making it more transparent more accessible to people not privy to politics
  • Provide interpretation services for people with disabilities or who speak a language other than English at town halls, City Council meetings, and other local government-related events


 Make Austin

Mobile


The more Austin grows, the more places we have to visit: work, school, cafes, parks, shows. But as we grow outward into a sprawling city, so does the challenge of getting to those places quickly and easily — many of us face long commutes, rising transportation costs, and frankly lousy alternatives. I’ll work to reduce traffic congestion, expand transportation choices in all areas of the city (especially District 7), and improve accessibility to make Austin more mobile.


Mobility is deeply intertwined with both affordability and equity. A rapidly sprawling city with a stunted transportation system results in greater commutes and higher car ownership costs — in fact, about $12,200 on average in Austin. Austinites on average spend almost half of their annual income on housing and getting to work alone.

Let’s rethink the way we get around our city. We can solve this in large part by investing in a robust transport system. Access to extensive transit networks helps people access more work opportunities and can slash annual commuter costs by up to 90%. And improving mobility reduces traffic congestion, which is kind to Austin’s cherished natural environment. With the expansion of infrastructure also come new jobs, helping to bolster an economy hurting from the COVID19 pandemic.

As your Councilwoman, I’ll work to increase safe and accessible transportation options by:

  • Advocating for the goals of Capital Metro’s Project Connect to offer increased transit options in light rail and expansion of the MetroRapid bus routes
  • Completing missing sidewalks in our neighborhoods and renovating the existing network for accessibility and comfort
  • Developing a comprehensive protected cycle network where all cyclists of all abilities and disabilities can feel safe while cycling
  • Promoting activities to ease our automobile gridlock like:
    • Greater rebates for electric bicycles
    • Subsidized public transportation for all Austinites
    • Education and incentive programs for students and young people (free bicycle program, free bus passes)
    • Transit-oriented schools and daycares subsidized by the city
  • Achieving Vision Zero’s goal of ending traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries


 Make Austin

Musical


Austin’s a vibrant place thanks to artists and venues contributions to the iconic culture that draws so many to our city, making it a destination for other workers that also fuel our economic engine. But the industry has struggled over the last several years, and now COVID is destroying what makes Austin the Live Music Capital of the World, creating doubt about the future. I’ll protect the cultural industry and the vital role it plays to our prosperity and cultural enrichment.


We need more affordable and flexible housing options for artists, musicians, and other creatives who today are commuting to downtown from outside of Austin. Right now, we don’t have enough housing and we ban more than six unrelated people living together in a household, preventing groups of artists from living and collaborating together. We must give people the opportunity and flexibility to focus on their craft.

We also need to invest in ongoing support for the creative folks in this city, especially those who may not have as much support as white male creatives. Women, LGBTQ+, and BIPOC musicians, along with business owners, have been disproportionately impacted by recent events and their livelihoods are at stake.

The creatives who make Austin magical and underpin our local economy need immediate and long-term public support. As councilwoman, I’ll fight for the livelihoods of our artists and local business owners by:

  • Repealing the housing regulation limiting the number of unrelated individuals per household (currently 6) be repealed
  • Committing to the creation of the Black Live Music Fund, which will divert 50% of the Hotel Occupancy Tax toward Black owned music businesses and musicians
  • Providing more long-term resources to support BIPOC, female, and queer creatives, venues, and programs, such as Body Rock ATX, Riders Against the Storm, Cheer Up Charlie’s, Boss Babes ATX, Frida Friday, etc.
  • Advocate for and support programs like the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM) that help musicians
  • Investing in and supporting local District 7 cultural assets such as Little Longhorn Saloon, Lala’s, Aristocrat Lounge, and the many local breweries