Ann Howard Kicks Off Commissioner Campaign

ECHO director hosts first event in Precinct 3

Ann Howard
Ann Howard (Photo courtesy of Howard Campaign)

The 2020 party primaries may be a year away, but not only presidential wannabes are massing at the starting line. On Sunday, Ann Howard, currently director of the End Community Homelessness Coalition, officially began her campaign for the Travis County Commissioners Court, Precinct 3.

Howard was introduced by City Council Members Ann Kitchen and Kathie Tovo and ECHO board member Ann Denton, to a crowd of nearly 100 people Sunday afternoon at the Barn Bar & Grill on Brodie Lane. Howard declared herself a “proud, progressive Democrat,” and said she is running in part because “progressive values are under attack” in Washington and at the Texas Capitol. After leading ECHO for eight years, Howard said, she felt an obligation to move “out of [her] comfort zone,” and help lead the fight for progressive change.

The southwest Travis County Precinct 3 is currently represented by Commissioner Gerald Daugherty (the sole Republican on the Court). Daugherty has told reporters he hasn’t yet made a decision whether to run for re-election, but expects to do so by mid-summer. [UPDATE: Monday afternoon, Daugherty told the Chronicle it is "highly unlikely" he will run, "but I've said that before."] Already declared for the Democratic primary is Sheri Soltes (founder of nonprofit Service Dogs, Inc.), and former District 47 state rep Valinda Bolton confirmed Monday that she is a candidate for commissioner, and expects to formally announce in April.

Howard was a co-founder of ECHO, and has been credited with building effective collaborations to address homelessness, and more specifically helping to end homelessness among veterans in Austin. In a statement, she said she will be leaving her post in May in order to campaign full-time. “I know we can make local government work better for more people,” said Howard. “I want to use my experience working with diverse coalitions to help take on our community’s biggest challenges.”

CM Kitchen praised Howard for her advocacy and effective leadership of ECHO, and specifically praised her ability to listen to others on an issue that can cause sharp public division. Denton called her a “force of nature” who is “never satisfied with mediocrity” in her work. Tovo called her a “force for good in the community,” who has elevated the work against homelessness, and built public/private partnerships in doing so. “She is not afraid,” said Tovo, “to demand accountability” of local officials and institutions.

Howard thanked her supporters, acknowledged particular mentors – years ago, she worked as a staff attorney under Sen. Joe Biden when he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, and she studied under Barbara Jordan at the LBJ School – and began by noting that Commissioners Court is “not the most important race for 2020.”

“We need to defeat Donald Trump,” she continued, “and restore sanity and common sense” to Washington. She noted the importance of voter registration and the upcoming census, and said, “We need to take back the White House, and maybe the state house.”

Howard promised to “work hard and deliver results” on the Court, and to do “whatever it takes to deliver progressive results.” Quoting Jordan, she said, “Let everyone come … equality for all, privilege for none.” Our neighbors, Howard concluded, are not just the people we know, but “everyone who is in need. Let everybody come.”

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Election 2020, Travis County Commissioners Court, Ann Howard, ECHO

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