In what its leaders described as "the largest event of the local election season" (and they're probably right), 800 prominent members of Austin Interfaith
held an "accountability session" on April 20 to pin down municipal election candidates on its agenda of fighting poverty and strengthening the middle class in Austin. Almost all the major candidates signed onto Interfaith's programs (though, frankly, failing to support the group's progressive policies in Austin would be like coming out against oxygen). The programs include increased funding for Capital IDEA
(a nonprofit providing support for the poor to attain education and workforce training), ESL classes, increased health-clinic funding, and the like. About the only note of dissension was when Austin Independent School District candidates Annette LaVoi
and Christine Brister
would not commit to funding $1,800 toward the nearly $10,000 out-of-pocket health-insurance costs of district employees. City Council candidate Cid Galindo
did not attend. "This event was a big step in strengthening the middle class in Austin," said Gina Hinojosa
, an Interfaith leader from St. Ignatius Martyr Parish
. "We need to keep people from slipping out of the middle class and provide opportunities for people to pull themselves out of poverty. We feel candidates recognized those priorities tonight." Elections for City Council, AISD board, and Austin Community College board are May 10.
Last Chance to Grill the Candidates
The procession of City Council candidate forums concludes this week with the
Crime and Safety Forum: Thursday, May 1, 6:30pm; City Council Chambers, City Hall, 301 W. Second.