AUSTIN (KXAN) — None of the candidates in the Austin City Council races without an incumbent secured more than 50% of the vote in their race, triggering a runoff in three seats. Austin voters will be asked to head back to the polls this December to pick between the top two candidates in those races.
Advancing to a runoff are District 3’s José Velásquez and Daniela Silva. District 5 is Stephanie Bazan and Ryan Alter. The District 9 runoff will be between Zohaib Qadri and Linda Guerrero. Both council members Paige Ellis and Natasha Harper-Madison will keep their seats.
Here’s a deeper look at those candidates headed to runoffs:
District 3: José Velásquez
Key campaign focuses outlined on Velásquez’s website include:
- Addressing Austin’s housing crisis through anti-gentrification measures and built off “real-life experiences of lifelong and new residents alike”
- Expanding high-speed broadband internet access
- Offering free, full-day Pre-K for all to jumpstart childhood education without cost barriers
- Incentivizing remote work to ease transportation woes and expand residents’ time spent with loved ones and community members
A fourth-generation Austinite, he said in his candidate interview with the City of Austin he is running for council due to the “lack of urgency around affordability,” citing his experience as a community organizer.
“A lot of people talk about the tale of two cities — I’ve lived it,” he said. “I can speak with authority, intelligence and trust in the community about the disparities facing our city.”
His campaign focuses on full-day Pre-K, increasing remote work opportunities, broadband access expansion and tackling housing crises through a holistic approach. Velásquez added teachers, students, service industry workers, emergency medical personnel and single parents are underserved under current affordability issues.
He also flagged transit issues, equity concerns and environmental elements as key areas his campaign looks to tackle.
District 3: Daniela Silva
Silva’s campaign website outlines three core tenets of her campaign:
- Expand building of affordable, dense housing along transit corridors; amend Land Development Code; passing VMU2 to authorize taller buildings; eliminate single-family zoning and mandatory parking minimums
- Bolster city’s light rail and e-bike system; hone in on cap-and-stitch and other alternatives to the Texas Department of Transportation’s I-35 plan
- Develop a new hospital in District 3 to serve southeast Austin
- Expand funding and support alongside Travis County for CommUnityCare
- Increase funding for Austin-Travis County EMS; sponsor the creation of EMS-run mobile mental health units
- Expand greenspace throughout east Austin
- Oppose Austin Energy’s current rate hike; divest from Fayette Coal Power Plant; audit city infrastructure like water, sewage pipes
In her candidate interview with the City of Austin, Silva said she was zeroed in on “equity, justice and a city that can maintain long-term sustainability.”
A bachelor’s and master’s degree recipient from Texas A&M University, Silva flagged her time as a legislative aide to a state senator in Austin and as a policy researcher in Washington, D.C., as part of her expertise. She also noted volunteer work with Community Resilience Trust, the Austin Justice Coalition, El Buen Samaritano, Community First! Village and the Austin Area Urban League.
“I have been boots on the ground working to make Austin a more equitable city,” Silva said. “It’s time to let go of the status quo and throw out the establishment political rulebook.”
District 9: Zohaib ‘Zo’ Qadri
Qadri promises to bring “all voices to the table” to tackle some of Austin’s biggest issues, which he lists as the climate crisis, public health and safety and housing affordability.
During a panel with District 9 candidates before the November election, KXAN asked each candidate how they would address affordability issues in Austin.
“I think the first thing that we need to look at is our land development code. It hasn’t been updated since 1984, so looking at some level of rewrite relating to that. But I think in the meantime, expediting the permitting process — which the longer it takes to, you know, with our current permitting process that falls on the homeowner, the cost falls on the homeowner and or the renter — looking at ADUs and more duplexes and fourplex when possible,” Qadri said.
You can find Qadri’s campaign website here.
District 9: Linda Guerrero
Guerrero said she’s a lifelong resident of the district she’s running to represent. She has experience working on Austin boards and commissions such as the Austin Parks board, I-35 Coalition and the Austin Environmental Commission.
Guerrero was also a teacher in the Austin Independent School District for nearly 30 years.
Her priorities, according to her website, include transportation, protecting parks and natural spaces, climate change and affordability.
“I would like to see more land trusts available. I would also like to see the AISD use some of their schools that have been permanently closed to house teachers. I’m a teacher myself and so I would like to see that be utilized for housing,” she responded.
You can find Guerrero’s campaign website here.
District 5: Stephanie Bazan
Bazan was born and raised in south Austin, in the district she is hoping to represent. She graduated from the Women’s Campaign School at the University of Texas’ LBJ School of Public Affairs, to which she added, “go horns.” Bazan has worked in health care, law and homelessness services.
She also said she’s a political outsider and a working mom who will bring the ideas and desires of regular Austinites to city hall.
Bazan’s elevator pitch: “I want people to know that I care and that I’m going to listen. The type of leadership style that I have is a listener. I certainly have lots of ideas about things that we could do to better the programs that we have and to make our city better, but it does no good if we don’t have the will of the people. It is the council members’ job to help be the voice of their community.”
You can find more about Bazan on her campaign website.
District 5: Ryan Alter
Alter was born and raised in the Austin area. After graduating from law school, he went into public policy as a capitol staffer and attorney.
Alter has worked with Sens. Kirk Watson, Sylvia Garcia and Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa. He said he’s now looking to make changes as the District 5 city council member.
Alter’s elevator pitch: “I’m running because I think we can do better on a whole host of issues. Whether it’s housing affordability, homelessness, transportation infrastructure, the environment or just the function of our city government, Austinites deserve to have leaders who have the experience to actually deliver results for them and that’s what I’m prepared to do.”
You can find more about Alter on his campaign website.