AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man convicted of killing someone launched his campaign for Austin City Council Tuesday night.
The candidate’s supporters gathered in northeast Austin to celebrate his campaign kickoff. Lewis Conway Jr. is drawing a lot of attention, all because of his criminal history.
“I felt like my life was over when I was arrested,” Conway said.
He’s trying something unprecedented, according to the Office of the Texas Secretary of State.
“I think it’s absolutely necessary for folks of my background to begin to own their stories,” Conway said.
Conway spent eight years in prison, 12 on parole, after pleading guilty to a voluntary manslaughter charge in 1992. He stabbed a man to death in an east Austin neighborhood.
That’s also the area he now wants to represent: City Council District 1. Because the state law on the matter is so vague, Conway believes he should be able to run. According to the Secretary of State’s Office, a convicted felon can only run if he or she has been pardoned or “released from resulting disabilities…” — a phrase that has prompted confusion.
“Is it a physical disability? Is it a mental disability? In this case, it seems to be a social disability,” Conway said. “My parole certificate that is issued by the state and my voter registration card should be sufficient.”
State officials say they’re unaware of this happening before locally, and therefore another candidate running for the same office would have to challenge his eligibility.
The incumbent City Council member for District 1, Ora Houston, could not be reached for comment.
The third person running for District 1, Natasha Madisonn, hasn’t officially declared but has filed a campaign finance report. While she didn’t want to talk to KXAN on camera, she did say Conway did his time, so he should be able to move on.