AUSTIN (KXAN) — Candidates for District 4 of Austin City Council joined the League of Women Voters’ virtual forum last week to discuss their platforms and answer community questions.
League of Women Voters’ Board Member Carol Eckelkamp led the candidates through a series of topics, including the 10-1 council structure, homelessness, police funding and infrastructure. The candidates are running to earn the North-Central Austin district’s vote on Nov. 3.
Participants included incumbent Greg Casar, Louis C. Herrin III and Ramesses II Setepenre. Also present was District 2 candidate Casey Ramos, who missed the District 2 candidate forum earlier that week after experiencing technological difficulties.
Greg Casar is listed first on the ballot. Casar, who has served on Austin City Council since 2014, remains the youngest person ever to be elected to the council.
According to his campaign website, Casar is running for re-election with goals to “heal our community from the effects of COVID, to transform our system of public safety to end racial discrimination in policing and prioritize low-income communities and to tackle our mobility and affordability challenges.”
In addition, Casar has been endorsed by all of Austin’s AFL-CIO Unions.
Prior to serving on council, he organized alongside immigrant workers at Workers Defense Project.
Louis C. Herrin III, an environmental engineer, is next on the ballot. Herrin, who has lived in District 4 for over 20 years, plans to prioritize public safety and homelessness, among other issues.
According to his campaign website, Herrin is firmly against defunding the police and in favor of reinstating the homeless camping ban.
This is Herrin’s third time running for the District 4 Council seat. He previously appeared on the ballot in 2014 and 2016.
Ramesses II Setepenre, a former contract security guard at Austin City Hall, is third on the ballot.
Setepenre is a self-described “Self-Funded, Gay Eco-Socialist” and according to his campaign Facebook page, “Pro-Black, Brown, LGBTQIA+, Women’s rights, Indigenous rights, Sex-Work, Drug Decriminalization, Healthcare-for-all, Slavery Reparations, Living Wages, Getting money out of politics, Green New Deal.”
Public safety and mental health resources, especially related to homelessness and police funding, was the hot topic of the night.
All three of the District 4 candidates, as well as District 2 candidate Casey Ramos, agreed the city has not done enough to meet the needs of the city’s homeless population. Casar and Herrin blamed the lack of resources from the state and federal government, while Setenpenre argued the city has not effectively addressed the root causes of homelessness—pointing to lack of social capital and quality healthcare.
Setenpenre, who has experienced homelessness himself, also said part of the solution is to re-purpose the police force. “It’s not a once size fits all solution… we must have multiple professionals on-board,” he said.
You can watch the full virtual forum here.
The League of Women Voters provides full information on city council candidates and all other races in their Voters Guide. Learn more and find which races will be on your ballot here.