Race for Austin’s district 1 showcases changing neighborhoods

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Natasha Harper-Madison and Mariana Salazar will continue to campaign for the open seat on Austin’s eastside city council seat, District 1. Incumbent Ora Houston declined to run for re-election. The two survived a crowded general election field of six.

“I was happy that the actual effort had resulted into votes and I’m ready to win this thing,” said Salazar.

“Really looking forward to the future of Austin and I think I’m that kind of leader,” said Harper-Madison.

The two both say one of the pressing issues facing District 1 is Austin’s affordability crisis. The two candidates say a city code encouraging more people to live in the same amount of space will slow down displacement.

“We currently have a housing shortage and we know when we have a housing shortage then the prices go up,” said Salazar.

“We need to make sure that more housing types are available to more people; more in the way of duplexes, more in the way of four-plexes,” said Harper-Madison.

But the two diverge in their personal stories and what they’ll bring to the Dias.

Salazar says she’s a working mother, who came to Austin as a teenager from Venezuela. 

“I’m an immigrant. And as an immigrant I’ve had to work extra hard and I want to make sure there’s a city that can truly welcome everyone,” said Salazar.

For Harper-Madison, it’s equity. She says the historically African-American part of town needs a seat at the table.

“The eleventh largest city in the nation, I was literally the only black woman running for office. That’s clearly problematic,” she said,” With this race we’re really addressing some of the wrongs that we need to reconcile.”

A relatively small number of voters will decide these city runoff elections because a lot of people who voted last week won’t show up for the runoff.

Many looked at former Travis County Democratic Party Chair Vincent Harding as the front-runner in the general election. He received 23% of the November vote. Harper-Madison received 25%. Salazar gathered 26%. 

Early voting begins on November 29th. The runoff election is December 11th. 

During the last election in District 1 – back in 2014 – just more than 13,000 people voted in the general election that November. Only 5,700 people voted in the December runoff – won by Ora Houston.

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