Keep up-to-date by going to KXAN’s election page for coverage ahead of election day Nov. 8 and results.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Four candidates, including one incumbent, have thrown their hat in the ring in Austin City Council’s District 8 race. Here’s a look at each candidate’s key campaign focuses ahead of Election Day.
Seven issues are highlighted on Ellis’ campaign website as core focuses of her reelection bid for Austin City Council, including:
- Expanding all age and abilities urban trails and bike lanes; supporting recreation and park upgrades and hiring additional Parks and Recreation staffing; fighting to ensure environmental compliance inspectors work on Oak Hill Parkway project; collaborating with Watershed Protection Department, Austin Resource Recovery and The Other Ones Foundation to connect people experiencing homelessness with job opportunities cleaning creeks
- Co-sponsoring ordinance to increase homestead and senior and disabilities-related exemption; supporting a $20 minimum wage; advocating for increased housing along transit corridors, including through CapMetro’s Equitable Transportation Oriented Development federal grant program
- Lowering speed limits on high-injury and high-traffic roadways like Slaughter and Brodie lanes, Old Bee Cave Road, etc.; Creating Healthy Streets program to encourage pedestrian and bicycle use on neighborhoods roads; establishing Safe Routes to schools with expanded infrastructure
- Co-sponsoring the GRACE Act to instruct police to deprioritize investigations into those seeking abortion healthcare access; allocating funding in 2019 and 2020 for transit, lodging, childcare and missed wages for people who need to travel to receive an abortion
- Funding free distribution of gun locks; sponsoring COA’s safe storage campaign; co-sponsoring the city’s resolution to create a Gun Safety Task Force; creating the Office of Violence Prevention
- Increasing budget funding for ATCEMS medics; authorizing a new police training format; responding with bottled waters, distribution volunteers to care for residents post-February 2021 winter storm
- Co-sponsoring the purchase of a bridge shelter; assisting in the annual “Point in Time” homeless census; supporting funding for Camp Esperanza
In her campaign interview with the City of Austin, Ellis said she’s pro-affordability, pro-environment, pro-choice and an advocate for ending gun violence. She highlighted her work on parks maintenance, road safety and gun violence preventative measures.
“I’ve been working hard for four years with my team to make sure that we are stepping up to serve and deliver for the residents of southwest Austin,” she said. “And I know with four more years, we can get so much more done for you.”
Smith’s four-pronged campaign centers on homelessness, public safety, fiscal responsibility and the environment. His key focuses include:
- Mitigating the homelessness crisis while keeping streets and public spaces clean and safe
- Restoring police funding for the Austin Police Department and ensuring safety of residents
- Limiting the amount of property taxes to no more than the previous year, while also working to reduce property taxes; calling for a comprehensive audit of city expenditures, including Project Connect and homelessness-related costs
- Guarding Austin water resources from environmental impacts due to new developments, large infrastructure projects; calling for an audit of Austin Water
In his campaign interview with the City of Austin, Smith said his focuses included public safety, environmental protections and Austin’s livability. A patent attorney, his experience includes serving as a judge, professor at the University of Texas Law School, a member of Austin’s Board of Adjustment and a member of the Oak Hill Association of Neighborhoods, as well as volunteering with Mobile Loaves and Fishes.
He highlighted understaffing in police and EMS as a core concern, along with an increase in homelessness and environmental degradation.
He noted necessary street repairs, upgrades in public transit and infrastructure needs. He said he will promote treatment and recovery resources for those experiencing homelessness.
“My friends: Austin is a beautiful and vibrant city; it just needs proactive leaders who will make good decisions and effectively implement those decisions,” he said.
Antonio D. Ross
In a campaign interview with the City of Austin, Ross noted his background as a native Austinite, a United States Army veteran and as an active member of Austin ISD’s long-range planning committee. He also started the nonprofit organization “We’re Not Our Scars” to help people living with lifelong illnesses.
Challenges Austin faces, Ross said, include homelessness, unaffordable housing and education concerns.
His campaign will work on housing stability for the unhoused population and meet with land developers and builders for affordable housing solutions. He also said public safety needs to be prioritized amid recent gun violence tragedies.
“I am not in this race for my community alone,” Ross said. “I want to join with other councilmen in other districts to ensure that all of Austin is a safe, equal, fair and affordable place to live.”
Ross doesn’t have a campaign website.
Kimberly P. Hawkins
With a dozen core focuses highlighted on her campaign website, Hawkins’ bid for Austin City Council includes:
- Speeding up affordable housing construction
- Supporting women’s access to reproductive rights
- Creating a Community First! Village in south Austin
- Developing common sense solutions to curtail gun violence
- Establishing “peer support” networks as part of mental health resources and response
- Preserving and protecting LGBTQ+ rights within Austin
- Reducing “over-policing” policies while enhancing public safety
- Expanding mass transit options to address congestion and infrastructure issues
In her campaign interview with the City of Austin, Hawkins said she entered the race because of her love for Austin and desire to make the city a more welcoming place for all.
“I love to talk about how much I love Austin, but so many things have been scrubbed in the name of real estate development,” she said. “And the city keeps asking more and more of its citizens and even a progressive like me is having a harder and harder time defending it, much less explaining it.”
If elected, Hawkins said she would ensure Austinites feel a return on their investment. She said traffic solutions to have a positive impact on the city’s climate efforts and congestion mitigations.
She encouraged residents to check their registration and exercise their right to vote.