Meet the City of Austin Council Candidates for District 2

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This November, the City of Austin will hold its first-ever election under the new 10-1 district system, and shift the voting date from May to November.

Burnt Orange Report reached out to all 78 people running for Austin City Council and mayor to learn more about their opinions about the biggest issues facing Austin.

For more on this election cycle, click here.

Below, meet the candidates for District 2.

Austin City Council Map

District 2

What is the number one issue facing Austin and what do you plan to do about it?
Delia Garza:
The number one issue facing Austin is the lack of affordable housing. If elected, I would create a commission on affordability to bring subject matter experts together to address the affordability issues with a comprehensive approach by examining best practices in other cities, evaluating our existing policies, and developing solutions that would lessen the burden that the cost of living has on all Austinites. I also plan to implement some form of a homestead exemption and will make sure that we strategically invest the voter-approved bond funds in ways that supply the City with as many affordable units as possible as soon as possible. There are existing policies to encourage affordable housing and multi-family development on transit corridors, and we should continue to promote developments in ways that fit with the growing needs of our City.
John C. Sheppard:
Liveability (A.Public Safety, B.Mobility, C.Affordability)
A. We don’t necessarily need more police officers, but we need to ensure they have the tools to ensure professional policing. All officers in the field should wear body cameras. We need to pay our police a wage where they can afford to live here & not have to commute from the suburbs. We need more 911 call center operators & better compensation for EMTs & ambulance drivers.
B. First, we need to expand the bus routes and hours to acknowledge people work late night & early morning hours & need safe reliable transportation options. Many residents of Dist2 work swing shifts & many work in the entertainment district- they pay taxes & deserve a bus system that recognizes their needs. We strive to be a ‘walkable’ city, yet we have neighborhoods waiting 20+ years for sidewalks.
C. Affordability is not just the cost of housing, but also the stealth taxes that go on our utility bills. It means creating jobs that pay meaningful wages.
Do you support the 2014 Transportation Bond? Please give a clear “Yes” or “No” and explanation.
Delia Garza:
While I support more multi modal transportation options and understand that we need to address our traffic crisis, I oppose the rail proposal. I have concerns that the proposed plan will further aggravate our affordability crisis while leaving some folks out of the process that are the most dependent on using public transportation. I generally support Project Connect, but as it’s written today, there is very little to offer in improved services to South Austin.
John C. Sheppard:
No. It does too little for too few.
What are the top three policies you propose to improve mobility and decrease traffic congestion in Austin?
Delia Garza:
If elected, I’ll work closely with Capital Metro to see how we can best support the agency and ensure that dependent riders have quality public transportation options regardless of what part of the city they live in. I support more efficient bus schedules, more busses on routes, and more dedicated bus lanes. We should focus more efforts on synchronizing lights and encouraging businesses to offer alternative work schedules and telecommuting options to their employees. I believe the long term vision of Imagine Austin to build in a compact and connected way that allows Austinites to live close to where they work and play will take our City in the right direction. I wholeheartedly support more multi modal transportation options. The 2014 Austin Strategic Mobility Plan, the Austin Bike Master Plan, and the Urban Trails Master Plan will all help us achieve significant progress in our efforts to expand and improve access to multi modal transit options.
John C. Sheppard:
1. Increase the bus routes, both in frequency, and with expanded late night / early morning hours.
2. Create incentives for city workers (police, and others) to live in the city, rather than commute to outlying areas.
3. Work to ensure that Austin is not only a walkable city, but also a city that is accessible- by the visually impaired, mobility impaired- and everyone!
Rents are skyrocketing in Austin. Do you support increasing the rental housing supply, and if so, where?
Delia Garza:
Yes, much of our affordability crisis is the result of our housing shortage. I would like to see more affordable housing options in South Austin, but affordable housing alone won’t solve our renters’ problems. I’m supportive of streamlining the process at the City so that more units can be built to meet our increasing demand, and also support solutions such as accessory dwelling units and increased density along core transit corridors that will bring more affordable options online.
John C. Sheppard:
The market should be the ultimate determining factor- but one easy way, that can also help longtime homeowners stay in their homes is the use of ancillary structures (often known as ‘garage apartments’, or ‘granny flats’). They provide an income source to help offset rising taxes, and provide a housing stock in areas that need it, without having to flatten a neighborhood or otherwise change its character.
How can we make sure the city’s infrastructure is equipped to handle its growth?
Delia Garza:
Accomplishing sustainable growth will be an ongoing challenge as we plan to accommodate population projections that will impact existing infrastructure like roads, water/wastewater system and distribution; including by extension adding density & impervious cover that can exacerbate flooding conditions as development continues. I would fully support an analysis of our infrastructure capacity in comparison with the Imagine Austin preferred growth map.
John C. Sheppard:
Planning and development. Our old politicians didn’t want growth they were happy to keep this a small college town. Our worst traffic problems were when Arkansas Razorbacks came to town. No vision, no plan, no action. That’s why we’re in this mess now. Time have changed and will continue to change. We need to stay ahead of the curve and invest for the future and the only way we can get there is with a strong management and smart infrastructure.
What is your favorite thing about Austin?
Delia Garza:
I love living in the progressive oasis of Texas. We still have a long way to go in accomplishing equity of simple city service across the city, but I know that this new form of city government is a historic step in the right direction. Our new system of government will provide true representation for populations that have been long underserved, and I’m proud of the work I put in to help the 10-1 district system become a reality. If elected, I look forward to continuing my service to our City.
John C. Sheppard:
My favorite thing about Austin is that it’s home to the most diverse, creative, friendly people in the world. It’s the Old South, meets the Old West- musicians, politicians, high tech folks, students of colleges, students of the school of hard knocks, and professors of both, all wrapped up with cosmic cowboys and a hearty dose of Texas hospitality. I can’t imagine every wanting to call anywhere else home, except for the best city in the best state there is- Austin.
Why should readers of Burnt Orange Report vote for you?
Delia Garza:
I am the only candidate in the race who has committed my career to public service and to championing progressive causes. I have a very unique skill set, my work as a firefighter, community advocate, and attorney for social services has afforded me extensive experience in addressing injustices, mediating competing groups and interests, and solving complex problems. I will continue to fight for working families struggling to stay in Austin and am committed to improving the lives of all Austinites.
John C. Sheppard:
Readers of BOR should vote for me because I am the candidate who can be the voice that South Austin needs on the council. I will lead by following the will of the people. I have graduated from LBJ High School here in town, attended ACC & UT, and raised two children who attended schools here K-12. I can relate with a variety of viewpoints, and excel at bringing folks together at reaching a common ground that is beneficial to everyone.

Early voting begins Monday, October 20. Click here for information about voting in the 2014 election.


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Burnt Orange Report

Burnt Orange Report, or BOR for short, is Texas' largest political blog, written from a progressive/liberal/Democratic standpoint.

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