Chronicle Endorsements for Austin's Propositions A and B

May 6 General and Special Elections

City of Austin residents will have two competing propositions on their ballot for the Saturday, May 6, special election: Prop A, circulated by Equity Action, and Prop B, circulated by Voters for Oversight and Police Accountability (connected to the Austin Police Association). The Chronicle Editorial Board makes the following recommendations. (Meanwhile, voters in surrounding municipalities and school districts will have other matters on their ballots; see a sample ballot at your county clerk's office, as listed in the voting info box.)

City of Austin Prop A: FOR.

It's time for Austin to enter a new era of civilian oversight of the Austin Police Department, which we feel Prop A can achieve. Within the past three years, the public has learned about a long-simmering scandal within APD that might have been uncovered earlier with more thorough oversight. The brutality Austin police officers showed Black Lives Matter protesters in 2020 – which, in addition to the pain and suffering inflicted on survivors, generated expensive lawsuits for the city – along with other high-profile examples of state violence have all underscored the need for more robust police accountability. Prop A may not create that system on its own, but its passage would represent the biggest stride Austin – and perhaps any American city – has taken in strengthening police oversight in decades.

City of Austin Prop B: AGAINST.

On the merits of each ordinance alone, we'd be in favor of Prop A and against Prop B. But the deceptive, underhanded tactics deployed by the Austin Police Association to get Prop B on the ballot just cements the case against their ordinance. If APA truly believed that Prop B provided a better system of oversight, then why didn't they campaign for it openly and honestly? They didn't, because they know it doesn't – what it would do, though, is install a system of oversight that the police union finds acceptable. As important as it is for Austin voters to embrace Prop A, it is almost as important for voters to reject Prop B.

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