Below is information about the upcoming City of Austin election and the voting recommendations made by the Travis County Solidarity Party.
Election day: Saturday, May 1
In-person early voting: April 19-27
Last day to register to vote: Thursday, April 1
Last day to request a ballot by mail: Tuesday, April 20 (received by the county clerk, not postmarked)
Prop A: Charter amendment allowing the Austin Firefighters Association to force the city into binding arbitration if they reach an impasse in collective bargaining.
Our recommendation: YES– This keeps bargaining efficient, produces results, and keeps our hardworking firefighters and EMS workers out serving our city and providing for their families.
Prop B: Code amendment prohibiting public camping in addition to sitting or lying down on a public sidewalk or sleeping outdoors in and near Downtown and the UT-Austin area.
Our recommendation: NO– while it is no secret that ever since the repeal of the camping ban Austin’s homeless problem has gotten worse, going back to the status quo does not fix the root of the issue or respect the dignity of those caught in the tragic circumstances of homelessness. The city does need to take immediate action in fixing the homelessness epidemic that we are currently caught in but criminalizing people is not going to fix it or respect the dignity of these persons, only push the problem off to the sidelines while we penalize instead of caring for our neighbors.
Prop C: Charter amendment permitting City Council to appoint or remove the director of the Office of Police Oversight.
Our recommendation: YES– The national and local events of last year have shown that there are some systemic lacks in the oversight of our local police force. To clarify not every police officer is bad, most are good hardworking servants of the people. But when a few officers are not doing their jobs correctly and it has tragic circumstances, it is an injustice when there is little to no oversight or consequence. Austin needs a system that hold its public servants accountable and is outside the influence of those they are overseeing.
Prop D: Charter amendment moving Austin’s mayoral election to presidential election years.
Our recommendation: YES– All evidence shows that there is much higher turnout on presidential election years, and with that much higher turnout for all other downballot races. The Austin Mayor is an important position that should have as many voices as possible in electing them, not just those interested enough during midterm years.
Prop E: Charter amendment creating ranked choice voting for city elections. If passed, voters would rank candidates instead of voting for just one candidate.
Our recommendation: YES– So much time and money is wasted on runoff elections in our city, for such low turnouts as well. As well as the current system of First Past the Post voting that Austin currently uses makes sure that voters vote strategically and votes against candidates they don’t like instead of who they want or who stands for their values. Austinites deserve a voting system that is efficient, cost effective, and lets them select who they actually want to lead the city, not the lesser of two evils.
Prop F: Charter amendment changing Austin’s form of government from “council-manager” to “mayor-council,” also known as “strong mayor.” If passed, this would eliminate the city manager position; the mayor would not have a vote on Council but would have the authority to veto Council decisions.
Our recommendation: YES– Currently the city’s most powerful executive position is an unelected contract position that is not accountable to the voters. A majority of what the city does is based on the recommendations of the City Manager and the City Manager makes many decisions that are outside the authority of the Council. When the City Manager makes a bad decision there are few recourses for accountability. Having a strong mayor system would make the city’s most important decisions be made accountable to the ballot box, not a contract.
Prop G: Charter amendment creating an 11th City Council district. Because the mayor would be rendered a nonvoting member of Council if Prop F passes (see above), an 11th single-member district was proposed in an effort to avoid potential 5-5 deadlocks on Council. However, because Prop G is a stand-alone proposition, it is not dependent on Prop F’s passage or failure.
Our recommendation: YES– While Prop G is stand alone and not dependent on Prop F it would be rather shortsighted to recommend Yes of F and not Yes on G. Another City Council district would help Austin represent it’s citizens better by making the districts smaller (better ratio of citizens-to-council member), and make running for City Council more accessible to the ordinary citizen by not having such big districts requiring large amounts of signatures.
Prop H: Charter amendment creating a so-called “Democracy Dollars” public campaign finance program that would provide up to two $25 vouchers to every registered voter, who could then contribute them to candidates for city office.
Our recommendation: YES– The last mayoral election broke records in that fundraising was in the millions of dollars for the first time in city history. The average Austinite is not able to compete with the interests of big business and and PACs with those kinds of numbers. Democracy dollars helps level the playing field and have candidates to city office be supported by the people, not giant corporations or duopoly PACs.