‘Big Battles Ahead’: What’s next for the group behind Austin’s Proposition A

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Note: This story was updated with new information and quotes.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Despite Tuesday’s resounding defeat of Austin’s Proposition A, the group behind the ballot initiative says there are “big battles ahead.”

Matt Mackowiak and Cleo Petricek, the founders of the political action committee Save Austin Now, addressed their supporters at the group’s election night party, expressing disappointment over Tuesday’s results, but vowing that more work is ahead.

“We are not going anywhere,” Petricek said, her words greeted with applause.

Mackowiak said Save Austin Now could wade into a potential city council special election to replace District 4 Austin Council Member Greg Casar, who recently confirmed a potential run for Congress.

“And then we’re going to have an epic battle for half of our city council seats and the mayor’s office in November, potentially with runoffs in December,” Mackowiak said. “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Mayor Steve Adler will not be running for re-election, as he will have served the maximum term for the position.

In an interview with KXAN last week, Mackowiak confirmed the group is also looking at possibly placing another ballot item in the upcoming May election. He said there are three topics under consideration: forcing an audit of the city’s budget and its spending, addressing transportation needs and tackling the city’s housing challenges by reducing city council’s influence when it comes to how to build affordable housing and by speeding up the process.

“The permitting process that our cities totally broken,” Mackowiak said. “Ask anyone who’s involved in this industry. The process for renovating your home is ridiculous; it takes months and months and months and months, when it should take days or weeks.”

Back in June, the city council voted to add 42 full-time staff members to the city’s Development Services Department which handles housing permits.

The city has also been attempting to revise its land development code. The current push is tied up in litigation. Arguments are set for Nov. 17 in the Texas 14th Court of Appeals.

Before the projected failure of Proposition A, Save Austin Now had been riding a wave of political momentum following last spring’s voter-approved reinstatement of the city’s homeless camping ban. Mackowiak, who is also chair of the Travis County Republican Party, has maintained the PAC is nonpartisan, pointing to his cofounder, Petricek, a Democrat who voted for President Joe Biden.

Speaking to KXAN ahead of Tuesday’s election, the chair of the Travis County Democratic Party, Katie Naranjo, called Proposition A an “attack from the far right,” and said Save Austin Now is a conservative machine in disguise.

“I think that there are a lot of folks who don’t understand what’s happening and who Save Austin Now really is,” Naranjo said.

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