Austin district 8 runoff pivots on political ideologies and density

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — November voters in southwest Austin did not give one candidate a majority vote for city council, meaning the top two finishers continue the fight. That electoral battle is one of ideologies.  Paige Ellis and Frank Ward now race in the runoff for City Council District 8.

“I just saw an opportunity to really have a strong environmental voice on city council,” Ellis told KXAN Tuesday morning. Ellis works as a marketing advocate for environmental issues and wants to bring her experience to Council, representing the district with Austin’s greenbelt and its many watersheds.

To stand out in a crowded general election field, she campaigned overtly as a democrat in the race. Council candidates rarely declare their party affiliation.

“I just wanted to make sure people knew where my values were. As I’ve gone door knocking, it is increasingly the values of Southwest Austin,” said Ellis.

Frank Ward, on the other hand, hopes to continue the work of the lone conservative Republican on the dais now, outgoing Councilwoman Ellen Troxclair.

“Whatever label you want to put on me, or whatever label she wants to put on herself, it doesn’t matter. What matters is who’s going to fight to get property taxes under control,” said Ward.

He hopes to be a fiscal watchdog on the budget and future multi-million dollar bonds. 

“We are in desperate need of somebody who’s going to say stop and ask the questions,” said Ward.

The two diverge not just in politics but also on the central issue facing Austin next year: revamping the land development code. Ellis desires more density and multi-family housing – focusing on the large traffic corridors.

“Citywide we need to be smarter and get creative about more homes for people to live in,” said Ellis.

If that density creeps into the neighborhoods, Ward disagrees.

“I think that would destroy the character of a lot of our existing neighborhoods,” said Ward.Southwest Austinites will decide on December 11th. Early voting begins November 29th. 

Ellis picked up two big endorsements Tuesday. The candidates who did not make the runoff – Bobby Levinsky and Rich DePalma – endorsed her in the race against Ward, according to her campaign.

Ward does have the backing of out-going Councilwoman Troxclair.

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