It's Your City Council!
Candidate and campaign profiles for your consideration
The overriding issue in the May 12 municipal election is not on the ballot: years of steadily declining voter turnout reflecting a public largely disengaged from local government and local issues. In recent years, turnout has been running persistently below 10%, although for a mayoral election it may get as high as 13-14%. (Because of this year's confusion over the movable party primaries, there is concern the problem will worsen.) Theories for the diminishing returns range from "essentially satisfied voters" to "completely alienated voters" to more practical explanations: for example, the all at-large voting system and campaign funding limits that also limit outreach to voters, who have heard much less (primarily on TV) about local issues and candidates than, say, the GOP presidential race. Yet local governments have a much more direct effect on our daily lives and neighborhoods, and our municipal votes are proportionally much more powerful than national ones.
Ripples in some early endorsements do reflect deep dissatisfaction with the current council on matters such as growth, development, and affordability – central issues in the mayoral campaign – but the broad slate of challengers most consistently reflects a sort of free-floating libertarianism from candidates with little political experience. The mayor's race and Place 5 feature most of the action, but there is plenty here to allow voters to consider the prospects and future of Austin and its city government.
In that light, the Chronicle offers this overview of the candidates, with brief summaries on the individual races and thumbnails of the specific candidates (asterisks denote incumbents). We've gathered that information from candidates' statements, questionnaires, forum appearances, websites (where available), and any other information we've been able to find.
To vote in this election, you must be registered to vote by April 12; early voting runs from April 30 to May 8.