Its a New Day on the Austin City Council

  • Last week were the runoff elections in Austin and they were good for the future of Austin housing.
  • Kirk Watson is the new mayor-elect and will be the mayor for a shortened two-year term.
  • The three city council candidates who won the runoff all appear to be pro-housing – which is great for Austin.

Last week was a big one for Austin’s future. But before I get to that, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, or whatever you celebrate this time of year. Hopefully you are able to spend time with your friends and family. That’s what is important and its great to remember that during the holiday season. For me, I have spent the past few weekends perfecting my bourbon milk punch recipe, so I am all ready for a Bukowski family Christmas.

Having said that, as I wrote above there was some exciting news last week. The runoff elections for mayor and three council seats took place last Tuesday. And they brought good news for pro-housing folks and the future of Austin. So let’s talk about it.

Our New Mayor … For Now


I reckon I do not have to tell you who the new Austin mayor is. Kirk Watson has been in the Austin political scene for a long time. As a former mayor and state senator, he is likely familiar to most of you. As the result of winning a very close runoff against Celia Israel, Watson will be the new mayor.

To be transparent, I supported Watson in the mayoral race. But both he and Israel were good candidates who likely would make good mayors. And it seems like they are both pro-housing.

Because of his experience at the capitol, Watson also hopefully brings with him the ability to soothe the relationship between the City and the State. If you have lived here in the past few years, you know that it is often very contentious – much to Austin’s detriment. Hopefully Watson can help smooth that over.

A big issue in the mayor’s race, though, is that this is a short term. Because of realignment, this year’s elected mayor is only serving a two-year term. That means, if Watson chooses, he will have to run again in 2024. As a result, we are likely to be right back at it a year from now.

Council Member Runoffs


The other runoff elections were for city council.

In District 3, Jose Valasquez won the seat. While I do not live in District 3, I did support Jose. He is a pro-housing candidate who understands the urgency of the issue. While he does not go into detail on his website, he does state that he favors a “holistic approach to our housing crisis” that should be built on the “real-life experiences of lifelong and new residents alike.”

In District 5, Ryan Alter won the runoff. He is also a pro-housing candidate who put forth a pretty detailed “Housing Now” program during the election. He definitely understands the crisis Austin faces and has said he wants to get to work immediately solving the issue.

Finally, in District 9, Zo Qadri won the election runoff. Like the other two new councilmembers, Zo appears to also be pro-housing. On his issues page on his website, he dedicates a section to talking about our outdated land use code and how it needs to be updated to bring it in line with Imagine Austin. This is, obviously, a very welcome view from a new City Councilmember.

Overall, the runoff elections were a big success for housing. Which means they were a big success for Austin. I look forward to seeing how these new councilmembers get to work helping to solve this crisis and make Austin a better, more livable city.

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