The Austin Chronicle

EMS Union Set for Leadership Contest

Association to cast ballot between incumbent Tony Marquardt or challenger Selena Xie

By Chase Hoffberger, November 16, 2018, News

Beginning Nov. 26, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services medics will vote to choose who will represent their interests for the next two years as president of their employee association: six-and-a-half-year incumbent Tony Marquardt or board member Selena Xie, a clinical specialist and trusted member of the union's bargaining team during the last round of contract negotiations.

Xie is running to take the ATCEMSEA reins after six years with the department and three before that with Texas Impact, where she was a policy analyst. She's the first person to challenge Marquardt since 2014 and has earned distinction from medics and City Hall insiders as an effective, level-headed communicator. She feels that Marquardt's lobbying efforts have been too heavily focused on creating due process provisions for medics who face de-credentialing by the system's Office of the Medical Director.

While Marquardt's stalwart defense of EMS members may have contributed to the departure of former Medical Director Paul Hin­ch­ey, who left in 2015, Xie writes in a candidate questionnaire that the threat of de-credentialing "affects very few members of our department." She's instead focusing on fixing retirement plans, which require medics onboarded after 2010 to work 30 years before becoming eligible for full benefits – no easy feat for such a demanding job.

Whoever wins will be responsible for guiding membership through what could be a rocky next two years, as powers that be at both the city and the county recalibrate the existing interlocal agreement between the two jurisdictions and continue to ponder a merger with the Austin Fire Department. Xie expressed opposition to that merger, while Marquardt opted to withhold judgment until there's a firm proposal for membership. Association voting ends Dec. 2.

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