Austin City Council

Callie Hernandez for KUT News

From the Austin Monitor: Poll numbers for City Council Member Don Zimmerman and challenger Jimmy Flannigan show the two neck and neck in a race to represent District 6, according to two surveys conducted in September and October for the Austin Monitor by Public Policy Polling of North Carolina.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

In a late Friday ruling, a district judge sided with a local activist against the City of Austin, voiding a December vote taken by city council members on the housing development Pilot Knob. Called Easton Park, the development plans to offer 1,500 apartments and 6,500 single-family homes in southeast Travis County.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Traversing parts of North Lamar Boulevard as a bicyclist or pedestrian – or, even as a driver – can be alarming. The speed limit is high, and substantial barriers exist neither between pedestrians and cars nor between cars going north and those headed south.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Growth and the interests of real estate developers commanded the discussion among candidates vying to represent Austin’s wealthiest district Tuesday night. City Council Member Sheri Gallo, who has held the District 10 Council seat since she was elected in 2014, sat alongside candidates Alison Alter, Nick Virden and Rob Walker fielding questions from residents.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Austin residents are no strangers to orange cones dotting the highways or construction cranes in the sky. But one KUT listener wondered: Why does it take so long to get anything built around here? 

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

In a repeat match of their neck-and-neck 2014 race, Austin City Council Member Don Zimmerman and challenger Jimmy Flannigan met Tuesday night beneath a giant screen at the Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline.

There was no feature on the bill, but that was alright. The two candidates vying for District 6 representative provided ample entertainment.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

District 10 is Austin’s wealthiest district – it boasts an annual median family income of $131,100. It’s one of the city’s most sprawling districts, stretching from MoPac to Lake Travis.

The race for District 10 is the most crowded among the five districts on the ballot. Council member Sheri Gallo is the current representative, and she faces three challengers – all who, like Gallo, tout fiscal responsibility, but with some added twists. It's a field of candidates who seem to straddle the political aisle; purple people, if you will.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

From the Austin Monitor: After weeks of back-and-forth with city staff and three days of wrangling for dollars and cents on the dais, City Council approved a $3.7 billion budget Wednesday evening for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2016-2017.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Austin’s District 6 is one of the city’s wealthiest – the median family income falls around $86,000 a year. It also boasts the largest number of Asian residents in the city.

Council Member Don Zimmerman represents Austin’s northernmost district. He has served as a resounding voice of fiscal conservatism, often abstaining from votes because of a general aversion for government spending.

Jenna VonHofe for KUT

Austin’s District 4 is one of its most diverse – more than 65 percent of residents are Hispanic, and nearly 10 percent of the district is African-American.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Complaints we hear citywide about affordability are magnified in Austin’s District 2.

The southeast district has some of the lowest-income residents, with a median family income of $42,650. The district also boasts the largest Hispanic population – a point of pride for current council member Delia Garza, Austin’s first Latina local representative.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

From the Austin Monitor:The price tag of Austin’s second-largest transportation bond proposal ever has been pegged at $720 million, but extra costs could pile as high as $20 million if voters approve the package in November.

The central piece of the plan calls for $482 million to be spent on projects along seven major corridors in town. Of those seven roadways, five include portions that are currently controlled and maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation.

It's been two years since the Austin City Council was overhauled from 6 at-large council seats to 10 single member districts - plus the mayor. Now, 5 of those new seats are up for re-election.

To help voters learn more about incumbents running for re-election – and those challenging to replace them – KUT News and the Austin Monitor have set up candidate forums in each of the districts up for grabs in November.

Callie Hernandez for KUT

The candidates for Austin’s next city manager will be vetted by nearly a million people. At least, that’s how necessary council members and city staff have said public input is to the process of hiring Austin’s newest city manager in roughly a decade.

Austin City Hall
KUT News

The deadline for council candidates to place their names on the November ballot came and went today. Here’s a list of who’s running in the five districts where seats are up for election (incumbents are indicated as such):

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

It’s official. Austin voters will decide on a $720 million transportation bond come November 8. Council members took a final vote on the ballot language this afternoon, after nearly two hours of discussion. The final count? Seven council members for, three abstaining, one hard no.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Mayor Steve Adler has christened a $720 million transportation bond the "Go Big Corridor Plan." So it begs the question, is this really that big? Seattle recently placed on a ballot a $54 billion transportation bond. But judging by other news reports, that number seems like an anomaly among municipal bond programs. 

Regardless, there's plenty to unpack when we discuss the "bigness" of this bond. 

Pu Ying Huang/KUT

The Austin City Council approved a measure Thursday clarifying the process municipal judges use to deem someone incapable of paying a municipal fine –emphasizing community service as an alternative to jail time for unpaid fines.

District 2 Council Member Delia Garza brought the item forward in an effort to reduce the number of people being sent to jail for unpaid fines.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Over the years I've been defined as many things: a woman, a mother, a grandmother. I've been an activist, a professional and a retiree. Now, I'm a public servant in Austin on the city council. My district has more African Americans than any other in the city. 

Over the years, as you may imagine, some of my roles have changed. But least one remains: I'm a mother – no matter how old my son and daughter may be.

I imagine most parents are like me. That's why my heart breaks when I try to step into the shoes of the parents, family and friends whose loved ones have been killed. 


Pixabay, via Austin Monitor

Update: The Austin City Council approved the teleconferencing item on consent. The pilot program will begin in District 6 and will ultimately expand to all Austin City Council districts.

Original post: In a quest to simplify the lives of some constituents, while easing some downtown traffic, Austin City Council Member Don Zimmerman has proposed testing out videoconferencing for some citizen communication.