Austin City Council

If you've felt overwhelmed by the unprecedented number of candidates running this political season, fear not.

Photo by KUT News

Isabel Rios is standing outside the Fiesta Supermarket on Stassney Lane, approaching shoppers as they walk toward the store. It's the only early voting location near Dove Springs.

"Hola!" she says, walking toward a couple shoppers. "Hello. Votan? Votan, señoras?” 

Rios is stumping for District 2 city council candidate Edward Reyes at Fiesta, the closest early voting location to the Dove Springs neighborhood. She and Reyes say their job has turned from campaigning to encouraging people to vote at all. 

“Just talking and encouraging people to vote," Rios says. "Trying to engage people as we can.”

pressleyforaustin.com

Austin City Council District 4 Candidate Laura Pressley has come under scrutiny for some of her views, including a 'Fluoride Free' campaign for the city's drinking water and claims that electricity smart meters cause her legs to twitch.

These and several other views of Pressley's were cataloged this week by the Austin Chronicle. And there's another wrinkle to the candidate's perspectives: A newly-discovered recording shows that Pressley also claims that the attacks of September 11, 2001 on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were actually a controlled demolition. 

Pressley made her views known at an event two years ago at the alternative bookstore Brave New Books titled '9/11 Debate: How Strong is the Evidence of a Larger Conspiracy?' Pressley jumped in during a question and answer session after the panel had concluded and attacked panelist Daniel Krawisz for not knowing about a "study" that linked traces of explosives found at the site of the destruction to explosives used by the U.S. military.

You can listen to the full exchange here:


Jeff Heimsath/KUT News

Austin voters are facing two major decisions this November.

First, Austinites will elect a new city council from brand new geographic districts, and voters will also decide whether to borrow $600 million to build a light rail line.

But, with so many City Hall hopefuls running on Prop 1-bashing stump speeches, what happens if voters approve the measure, and the next council has to implement policy they’ve sworn against?

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

The Ballot Boxing series continued last night with the Austin City Council candidate forum for District 4 in North Austin. Seven of the eight candidates gathered at the Marchesa Hall with moderators Michael Kanin of the Austin Monitor and Regina Rodriguez of Univision 62.

You can view a photo gallery above and listen to the full audio of the forum below.

Austin Monitor

This story comes to us from our city hall reporting partner, the Austin Monitor.

City Council adopted the Fiscal Year 2015 budget and tax rate Tuesday, despite Mayor Lee Leffingwell’s dissent.

Council members voted in favor of an operating budget with an $854 million general fund after approving a set of amendments this week that totaled $3.4 million. They also increased combined enterprise and internal service fund spending by $1.2 million, and critical one-time expenditure fund spending by $3.3 million.

Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Labor Day typically marks the homestretch of campaigns, both locally and statewide.

In Austin, 72 candidates across 10 districts, in addition to six mayoral candidates, should expect to have their schedules packed with forums, campaign appearances, stump speeches and fundraisers. But, amid all that hustle and bustle, will candidates get to know their districts and hear their voters before the Election Day?

Join KUT, the Austin Monitor, Univision 62, KXAN and the Austin Chronicle for our series of in-district Austin City Council candidate forums. All forums begin at 7 P.M. They are free and open to the public.
RSVP is recommended. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

For the 78 people running for Austin City Council and Mayor this fall, where their name is on the ballot can make a real difference on Election Day. And that was determined by a random drawing on Wednesday.

Bryan Winter/KUT News

Nearly two years after Austinites passed the 10-1 plan – which allows voters to elect city council members from their respective geographic district while the mayor is still elected by all voters – the plan has arrived at its penultimate step: The ballot is set. 

In total, 78 candidates submitted their names for voter approval ahead of the city and county elections in November. The ballot features some familiar faces, with current council members Chris Riley and Kathie Tovo pitted against each other in District 9 as well as a Sheryl Cole vs. Mike Martinez match up in the at-large race for mayor. 

Below you can find a full list of the candidates on the ballot listed by filing date:

flickr.com/oxherder

Today is the last day candidates can file to run in the next Austin City Council election. Those elected in November will represent one of Austin’s 10 new geographic districts.  Some campaigns are already underway, and candidates are hearing about needs that are exclusive to their district.

A lot of those district-exclusive needs don't involve more international flights or starting another international festival in Austin.

So if the candidates, once they're elected, focus on solving the small-scale problems their constituents bring to their attention during the campaign season, Austin may experience radical changes over the next decade or so.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrlaugh/6705429685

A major transportation plan took a significant step forward Thursday when the Austin City Council voted unanimously to put it on the November ballot.

It’s a billion-dollar proposition. Voters would agree to a $600 million bond for a 9.5-mile urban rail line, contingent upon two conditions: matching funds from the Federal Transit Administration or another federal or state source, and a future city council securing $400 million dollars for road projects. The ordinance does not specify a source for the additional $400 million.

Daniel Reese/KUT

Today, the Austin City Council could decide whether or not to move forward on municipal identification cards – cards which would allow undocumented immigrants to identify themselves without the fear of deportation.

The item on the council's agenda (PDF) would permit the city manager to conduct a study of the ID program to be delivered to council later this year.

Bryan Winter/KUT

Austin City Council hopefuls are trickling into City Hall to file for a place on the ballot.

The application period, opened yesterday, goes through August 18. While currently just a handful of people have filed, the election is generating excitement that's hard to come by in local politics

Jannette Goodall is Austin's City Clerk. But if you didn't know that, you'd think she's a wedding planner – for months, Goodall and her staff have been prepping for this moment. "You're kind of planning for the big ball, you know? It's kind of fun," she says.

Bryan Winter/KUT

Come November the Austin City Council is going to look a bit different. The council will expand from six at-large-elected  members to 10 members elected by citizens within their district — plus the mayor, naturally. In anticipation of the change, the city is revamping the council's dais. 

Project Connect

By a unanimous vote – Austin city council endorsed a package of proposed transportation projects Thursday night, including a $1.4 billion dollar urban rail line

The Austin City Council limited public comment on urban rail to 30 minutes for each side, which angered some public transit advocates who support the concept of urban rail but reject the proposed route of the plan. 

Project Connect

A proposal to build a $1.4 billion urban rail line in Austin faces a key vote today in the city council. The 9.5 mile urban rail line would run from Riverside Drive and Grove, through downtown to Highland Mall.

Supporters of the plan say that route is going to see a lot of growth over the next few years. Opponents wonder why it’s not going in where things are already happening. Like, along Lamar or Guadalupe.

Project Connect

The Austin City Council and the Capital Metro Board met today to learn more about a proposed urban rail route that needs approval from the council – and ultimately, Austin voters. There are still concerns about how to pay for the project.

Project Connect is looking at adding rail, buses and other options to the transit system in Central Texas. But the project's proposed plan for downtown Austin is still contentious because it favors a route that would bring urban rail through East Riverside and up to Highland Mall at a cost of almost $1.4 billion.

Today is the first day that campaigns and candidates for the Austin City Council can start soliciting or accepting political contributions. Although many things will be radically different this election cycle, asking for money will remain practically the same. 

When Austin voters changed the city’s form of government in 2012, they did not change anything when it comes to campaign contributions. Still, the city’s clerk Jannette Goodall says campaign contribution limits are adjusted every election cycle according to inflation.

For instance, the charter says 300 dollars “and I believe the current amount is 350,” says Goodall.

Daniel Reese for KUT News

This story comes to us from our city hall reporting partner, the Austin Monitor.

It seems that some City Council members were planning on giving City Manager Marc Ott – and perhaps others – a piece of their minds in private Thursday, but due to the absence of Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, Mayor Lee Leffingwell was able to at least postpone that confrontation.

The executive session agenda for Thursday included four unusual items, each to do a mid-year evaluation of one of the Council’s appointees: Ott, City Auditor Kenneth Mory, Municipal Court Clerk Rebecca Stark and City Clerk Jannette Goodall.

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