Meet the City of Austin Council Candidates for District 8

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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 8.

Austin City Council Map

District 8

What is the number one issue facing Austin and what do you plan to do about it?
Eliza May:
Transportation. We need a comprehensive plan that the citizens can support with timelines of when projects will be completed and what the approximate expense may be. Short term Transportation solutions that I support these project which are not expensive to implement: Synchronization of traffic lights, 4- day work week policy, Staggered work day policy, Telecommuting, Corridor Study on 1826. This will measure will get cars off the roads and we will see improvement in the traffic congestion.
Darrell Pierce:
One of Austin and District 8’s critical issues is transportation. I will serve as a leader on this issue by securing funding to support a regional comprehensive transportation study for all of South Austin, ensuring light synchronization to yield optimal traffic flow, maximize efficient delivery of public safety services, and protect our open spaces, aquifer, and parks.
Ed Scruggs:
Affordability and Cost of Living: The sharp rise in overall living expenses, combined with stalled income levels, is having a “delayering” impact on our population (with lower income groups and families hardest hit). To protect viability of home ownership. We must reform the budget process and install a phased in, 20% homestead exemption. We most also seek more diversification in the economy and when possible promote increasing minimum and living wages.
Do you support the 2014 Transportation Bond? Please give a clear “Yes” or “No” and explanation.
Eliza May:
I do not support the bond, it cost too much; we will get too little. Further the issuance of this bond package will encumber the future council on prospective projects making them an ineffective council.
Darrell Pierce:
While the selected route does not provide a regional plan for future connections, it is an initial route that will relieve some congestion and add value to our current transportation plan. We as a city cannot risk that it may take years before we will have another opportunity to consider urban rail as a multimodel option with the opportunity to be funded 50% by the Federal Transit Authority. I support the Bond only if the City secures the FTA Grant to cover half of the costs.
Ed Scruggs:
NO: While a supporter of transit in concept this plan is currently not affordable. The Project Connect process is incomplete – failing to meaningfully address commuter transit issues in most of the outlying districts.
What are the top three policies you propose to improve mobility and decrease traffic congestion in Austin?
Eliza May:
I support policy that will implement the following:
Synchronization of traffic lights, 4- day work week policy, Staggered work day policy

This policies will not be expensive to implemnent.

Darrell Pierce:
There are several options that the city has available to ease the congestion in District 8. The options include:
• Ensure funding for a regional South and Southwest Austin transportation study is included in the November 2014 bond package.
• Explore Park & Ride and express bus options for District 8 through thoughtful representation on the CapMetro Board and develop regional consensus through community engagement on the subject of solutions around the Highway 290 and 71 Parkway.
• Conduct a District 8 traffic light synchronization study for those lights operated and controlled by the City of Austin and TxDOT and explore options for improved traffic flow and safety features on FM 1826, LaCrosse/MoPac and Slaughter/Mopac intersections.
Ed Scruggs:
Re-examine the role of Cap Metro and emphasize a connected system with shorter transfer waits; Expand Park and Ride options with express commuter service in the outlying districts; Expand service and extend hours for bus and Red Line on nights and weekends; Support of Lone Star Rail. Staggered work hours; Expand South Mopac Capacity. Legalize ride sharing services. Press Hays County to join Cap Metro.
Rents are skyrocketing in Austin. Do you support increasing the rental housing supply, and if so, where?
Eliza May:
Yes, throughout the city.
Darrell Pierce:
All of Austin should participate in providing affordable housing options. Rental housing locations should be identified that provide families with direct access to education, transportation, grocery stores, medical facilities, and other basic necessities. I support a streamlined zoning and permitting process to reduce the development time for new housing and apartments to become available on the market. We also need to explore incentives or programs to expand our affordable rental inventory.
Ed Scruggs:
Yes – but with care. Emphasize construction of apartments (over condos) in the downtown core, campus areas and high transportation corridors. Require a greater percentage of affordable units within new projects. Support housing bonds. Partner with UT on plans for student housing. Granny flats in supportive neighborhoods.
How can we make sure the city’s infrastructure is equipped to handle its growth?
Eliza May:
It starts with planning and managing our growth. This will involve a reexamination of our policies in how we recruited new businesses, a revaluation of our water supply, and our available space. Additionally, we must review our city budget to ensure that we are able to sustain our infrastructure without addition stress to the homeowner. We need to add impact fees for development to recoup the cost of growth.
Darrell Pierce:
Imagine Austin should be the foundation for developing comprehensive strategies to ensure we have the infrastructure to guide healthy and responsible growth. We are entering into a great place to reset how the City submits, processes, and reviews permits and site plans. I support having the best-in-class systems and streamlined processes. The CodeNext process will be instrumental in determining where and what type of growth will be planned or targeted for specific Austin communities.
Ed Scruggs:
Careful planning that balances affordability with growth forecasts. Protect and preserve existing water resources; support increased renewable energy production; partner to create a solvent and stable public education system. Continue working for cost effective alternative transit options.
What is your favorite thing about Austin?
Eliza May:
Our trees and green space.
Darrell Pierce:
Austin is a great place to live, learn, work, and play. I love the friendly environment, the lakes, live music, diverse cuisine, and Central Texas location.
Ed Scruggs:
The beauty and the spirit of the city. This is an attractive, intelligent, creative, diverse and relatively open minded place – which provides a good foundation to pursue an education, build a life or begin a business.
Why should readers of Burnt Orange Report vote for you?
Eliza May:
The new City Council will be more diverse and probably challenging as every district gets its footing. I have deep and longstanding relationships with many who are running in other races. This is where I will provide strength. A City Council member is the center of communications and integrates and coordinates the strengths of many other individuals, making make decisions based on a complex and vast amount of information.
Darrell Pierce:
I am a 34-year resident of Austin, a graduate of Crockett High School and St. Edward’s University, the father of three daughters and the husband of an amazing wife. I focus on process improvement and performance management for government agencies/businesses as the owner of a consulting firm. I have combined public/private experience at GSC, Motorola and IBM. My civic commitments include serving on public commissions regarding education, planning, chamber of commerce, and transportation.
Ed Scruggs:
I am a progressive and passionate community leader with a history of speaking out on behalf of children and families, equality and inclusion. I can bridge the gap between old and new Austin and help to engage new residents in a reformed local government.

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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