Packed House at East Austin Candidates’ Forum

May 12, 2011 at 11:29 am Leave a comment

Earlier this month the East Austin Vota Campaign hosted the 2011 City Council Candidates’ Forum. As part of the Vota Campaign, the Candidates’ Forums continue to demonstrate the increasing participation of minority voters and has become one of the largest and most well attended forums in Austin.

Addressing a packed house, 9 of the 11 candidates for Austin City Council had the opportunity to address the audience and answer prepared questions from representatives of the East Austin Voter Mobilization Initiative (EAVMI). The questions focused on issues of importance directly affecting residents of East Austin.

The candidates answered questions about environmental issues such as the relocation of the Pure Casting Foundry (which residents express concern about toxic pollution in a residential neighborhood and nearby Zavala Elementary School) and the purchase of 28 acres adjacent to Roy Guerrero Colorado River Park and the community’s proposal that it be designated as a preserve.

Other issues addressed included the “Gentleman’s Agreement”, considered to embody institutionalized racism that the City of Austin has yet to address. The community asked for a “champion” to support and recognize that the City Council is currently an at large system and each council member needs to represent all community interests and not defer minority issues to the “black & brown” members on the Council. That led to the next logical question of what candidates thought about a shift to single member districts.

Below is the Twitter feed from the Candidates’ Forum that evening:

http://twitter.com/@SouthwestKey

• Community is gathering for the ATX City Council Candidates’ Forum. #VotaCampaign twitpic.com/4nd8rj

• Candidates for Place 1 have started speaking. #VotaCampaign Chris Riley, Josiah Ingalls & Norman Jacobson.

• Community Q: what will they do w Pure Casting Foundry for community safety? #VotaCampaign
• A1: Ingalls: council needs to relocate it. Stop planning, using outside contractors. Make decisions and do.
• A1: Riley: I have worked on this & we are working on it; need deal where priv owner agrees it’s a benefit to them to move. #VotaCampaign

Audience at Candidates' Forum

Audience at Candidates' Forum

• Q2: many enviro hazards in neighborhood. Will you ensure to get 28 acres be transformed into preserves in east Austin? #VotaCampaign
• A2: Jacobson: not familiar w this, but is creative and can come up w a solution. #VotaCampaign
• A2: Ingalls: this isn’t a priority for council, rather council gives $ to biz like Formula 1 & Google. Wants this a properly. #VotaCampaign
• A2: Riley: not sure what making it a preserve requires, but need to engage public in this process. And explore possibilities. #VotaCampaign

• Q3: in 07 bond money was granted for affordable housing. Do you support more bond money? #VotaCampaign
• A3: Ingalls: new money needed, but need low income and affordable housing. #VotaCampaign
• A3: Riley: yes, I support more bond money. Community needs to discuss the priorities. #VotaCampaign

• Q4: will you champion causes of minority issues? Will you push for single member districts? #VotaCampaign
• A4: Riley: we are all reps for the whole city. I believe single member districts create better representation. #VotaCampaign
• A4: Ingalls: have been working for single member districts but need strong mayoral gov’t not strong city manager gov’t. #VotaCampaign
• A4: Jacobson: in favor of single member districts; believe mayor should be selected by the council. #VotaCampaign

• Candidates for Place 4 take the stage. Laura Morrison and Eric Rangel. #VotaCampaign

• Community Q: what will they do w Pure Casting Foundry for community safety? #VotaCampaign
• A1: Rangel: prob is council doesn’t live in east Austin, but we need to find solution. #VotaCampaign
• A1: Morrison: public health imp to me; no success yet, looking at federal money – value of biz there is too expensive. #VotaCampaign

• Q2: many enviro hazards in neighborhood. Will you ensure to get 28 acres be transformed into preserves in east Austin? #VotaCampaign
• A2: Rangel: need to stop suburban sprawl to save environment. Build up urban areas to accomplish this. #VotaCampaign
• A2: Morrison: committed to making it a preserve. It’s a council not staff decision. #VotaCampaign

Candidates respond to community questions.

Candidates respond to community questions.

• Q4: will you champion causes of minority issues? Will you push for single member districts? #VotaCampaign”
• A4: Rangel: in favor of single member districts; needs to be 8 not 6 – it’s more efficient. #VotaCampaign
• A4: Morrison: believer in single member districts; needs to be on 2012 ballot; work w community input. #VotaCampaign

• Q3: in 07 bond money was granted for affordable housing. Do you support more bond money? #VotaCampaign
• A3: Morrison: no one expected ’07 $ to solve the prob; support more $; there are other tools such as density bonuses to use. #VotaCampaign
• A3: Rangel: affordable housing is doable, doesn’t need to be in one part of town; need to be cost effective for citz. #VotaCampaign

• Candidates for Place 3 are taking the stage. Kris Bailey, Max Nofziger, Randi Shade & Kathie Tovo #VotaCampaign twitpic.com/4ne0bz

• Q1: what will they do w Pure Casting Foundry for community safety? #VotaCampaign
• A1: Bailey: tricky, it’s $$, why aren’t we boycotting those that do biz w those harming community? Gov’t moves too slow. #VotaCampaign
• A1: Shade: complicated prob, feel bad it hasn’t been taken care of. Need to find land swap opty #VotaCampaign
• A1: Tovo: committed to working w community to get it out of neighborhood; need stronger leadership. #VotaCampaign

• Q2: many enviro hazards in neighborhood. Will you ensure to get 28 acres be transformed into preserves in east Austin? #VotaCampaign

• A2: Tovo, Shade: want the preserve. Nofziger: there is money to spend to get it done. Let’s use it. #VotaCampaign
• A2: Bailey: prob is council Relationship w developers. Therefore no $ fir parks.

About The East Austin Voter Mobilization Initiative:
The East Austin Voter Mobilization Initiative (EAVMI) is a coalition, spearheaded by Southwest Key Program’s East Austin VOTA Campaign, that includes PODER, LULAC District 12, Austin NAACP, Austin Center For Peace & Justice, Austin Immigrants Rights Coalition, Austin MoveOn.org, and Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance.

~ Daniel Llanes, Guest Contributor and Narissa Johnson, External Communications Manager
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Entry filed under: Community Center, Community Empowerment, Politics, Vota! Campaign.

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