Morrison for Council?

Austin Neighborhoods Council's Laura Morrison considering run for City Council

Although the municipal election horizon is a long way off, the early informal campaign season has unofficially begun. That is, the first name floating urgently in the local air is Austin Neighborhoods Council President Laura Morrison, who told Naked City this week, "It's no secret I've been talking to people, and I am definitely thinking of running for City Council."

There will be three seats on the dais up for election in May next year: Place 1 (Lee Leffingwell), Place 3 (Jennifer Kim), and Place 4 (term-limited Mayor Pro Tem Betty Dunkerley). The official filing date is not until February or March, but the precampaign, when potential candidates sound out local support (or opposition), is nearly as important as the voting itself, and Morrison has been circulating among the usual players and informal groups, although she emphasizes that she has not made a definite decision to run.

"I've been intimately and extensively involved in community issues through my work on ANC," she says (she was the organization's zoning chair before becoming president a couple of years ago), "and I've found myself thinking about where the city as a whole community needs to be and where we want to be in 10 years. I think it might be helpful to take that conversation to the dais."

She noted that while the high-profile emphasis of ANC (with its 70-some member organizations) is on neighborhood issues, she has found recently that the members want to speak out on matters concerning the environment, schools, and social justice and equity. For example, Morrison represented the ANC in the coalition asking for more public input into the city's search for a new Austin Police Department chief. She says she wants to help find ways to "balance the priorities of our current residents with welcoming newcomers to Austin." And in light of the current public battle over Wal-Mart's plans for a supercenter at Northcross, Morrison says she believes the council needs members willing "to be more of a vigorous advocate" for the community and to "bring a stronger community voice to city decisions."

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City Council, Austin Neighborhoods Council, Laura Morrison, Lee Leffingwell, Jennifer Kim, Betty Dunkerley

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