As a member of the Austin City Council, I know how important local races are for our community and how hard it can be to find good information before you vote. In this guide, I’ve included candidate information for the contested Democratic Primary election in Travis County covering most of District 6 and the candidate’s responses to questions we asked relevant to the issues facing NW Austin. Early voting starts Tuesday, February 20th!
Council Member Jimmy Flannigan
Are you a Williamson County voter? Read our Williamson County Voters Guide!
Early voting locations in and near District 6 for Travis County:
Randalls Research & Braker
10900 Research Blvd
Randalls Steiner Ranch
5145 N FM 620
Tuesday, February 20 through Saturday, February 24 - 7:00 am to 7:00 pm
Sunday, February 25 - 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Monday, February 26 through Friday, March 2 - 7:00 am to 7:00 pm
To check your voter registration or for more details on voting, visit votetravis.com
In addition to the campaign for State House 47 in Travis County, there are also contested primaries in a number of other local races county-wide or in other parts of Travis County. We decided to focus on the race where District 6 represented a significant portion of their total district. For additional information on other candidates up and down the ballot, visit Vote411 by the League of Women Voters
State House District 47
Question 1: If elected, what will you do to address traffic in Austin?
Aylor: Living in Steiner Ranch, I experience our traffic congestion daily. The efforts of leaders like Council member Flannigan make necessary improvements must be championed. Workman tried and failed to reverse fair chance hiring. The people of Austin and HD47 have great ideas and they must continue to lead the planning, unopposed by legislative attacks on local control.
Fowler: Sen. Watson and Rep. Israel have been hard at work addressing the transportation issues in Austin, but HD47 has been left out of the equation as it’s left out of most discussions. We don’t have an engaged or cooperative representative. As a former legislative staffer and current AFSCME representative, I am already engaged with members of the legislature key to addressing these issues. Our district lacks adequate East-West transit options to ensure our children can get safely to school, our residents access to gainful employment and first responders can attend to emergencies in a timely manner.
Goodwin: To bring more money into the highway fund, I would update the gas tax which remains at the 1991 level, and index it to inflation. I support adding lanes to IH35 and re-striping roads to add capacity where the space already exists. I support transit-oriented development to encourage expanded usage of the rail line. I encourage expanded testing of self-driving cars in Texas, expansion of public/private partnership options like Chariot, and more tele-commuting. We need to incentivize people to use micro- or mass transit. Essentially, we need to look at all possibilities as our population grows.
Simpson: Traffic is a key issue for HD47 and has been ignored by Paul Workman and the state for far too long. If elected, working with county and city officials and with groups like the Four Points Task Force will be the key to making progress. We must be open to creative solutions and not simply attempt to “build our way out.”
Soltes: Once elected, I will work with Representative Celia Israel who sits on the House Committee on Transportation to address the traffic and infrastructure issues in Austin. I agree with Representative Israel when it comes to supporting multi-modal transportation projects. One way to do this is by asking the voters if they would be willing to pay an additional $10 on their car registration in order to fund non-tolled roads in our city. Another option is to slightly raise the gas tax statewide to provide additional dollars to our states infrastructure. The legislature has mismanaged our transportation dollars for far too long and once I am elected I won’t stand for it. The passage of Prop 1 and Prop 7 was crucial for funding projects in our state, but that money is already ear marked for projects. We have to keep working on this issue. More buses, light rail, more park and rides. If gondolas proved efficient I would be for gondolas as well. Our motto can no longer be… “If we don’t build it, they won’t come.”
Question 2: If elected, what steps will you take to address affordability issues in Austin?
Aylor: We must update the school finance algorithm for recapture, that imposes undue property taxes burdens. Whether that includes legalization and taxation of recreational marijuana sales, or de-criminalization and ending the financial burden and human cost of the for profit prison industry, the legislature will have many options. I would also urge Austin to consider the recommendations from community stakeholders to use land for the construction of low income affordable housing like Foundation Communities properties in various neighborhoods around the city, including West Austin. These are all ideas that were informed by the residents of Austin, and should continue to be.
Fowler: Many HD47 residents must use onsite options for their utilities--even residents of Austin. While doing so protects the natural beauty of the Hill Country we cherish, it also comes at a cost which could be seen as a tax on beauty, a tariff on nature. I would fight against any efforts to create a tax on green technology and work with the legislature, TWDB, ERCOT and municipal elected officials to ensure that our utility companies offer options which do not require laying new lines to save costs to all users and preserve our Hill Country.
Goodwin: Affordability is impacted by home prices, property taxes, and income. Until we have a 4-6 month supply of homes, prices will continue to rise, so I would not do anything to stifle the building of homes. My highest priority is to fix the school finance system and have the state pay a larger share, 50% minimum, of K-12 public education, which would result in less property tax revenue needed. I support a minimum wage that is a living wage. I support public/private partnerships and grants to nonprofits that provide housing, such as Mobile Loaves and Fishes and Habitat for Humanity.
Simpson: Housing affordability is a complex issue that is driven by market forces, taxes and utility costs. Any policy must take all of this into consideration. The property tax issues we have here in HD47 are primarily driven by the broken Public School Finance system, which will be a top priority of mine if elected.
Soltes: Affordability issues are rampant in Austin. HD 47 suffers from a lack or workers for service industry and retail due to the high costs of living in the district. I will support initiative to retain the beautiful culture that our minority populations bring to Austin, because they are what make Austin so great! It is important to require that any new developments have low-income units. Additionally I support raising the minimum wage if not in the state, in the cities of Austin, Lakeway, Bee Caves, Cedar Park and Lago Vista. Studies show that you have to make at least 22 dollars an hour in order to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Austin. The business community understands that affordable housing is crucial to their workforce and I will bring everyone to the table to decide what is best for HD 47.
Question 3: If elected, how will you ensure that our community remains safe?
Aylor: Austin has one of the highest rates nationwide of shootings of unarmed people by police officers, especially people of color. Communities feel safe when they feel they have a voice, are connected to their policy makers on a personal level, thus building trust and transparency. These are elements of my recommendations while participating in the Mayor’s Taskforce on undoing Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities, like creating the Office of Resilience at Austin Public Health focused on making Austin a trauma informed and responsive city. These are also elements of the Obama-era 21st Century Community Policing model groups are working on implementing with APD.
Fowler: Since 2015, Gov. Abbott has dedicated $1.6 billion to “border security”--a federal authority--which would be better spent on restorative justice, transportation, education and healthcare. Gov. Abbott doubled down with SB4--shoving valuable members of our communities and workforce into shadow--fearful of reporting crimes they are victims of or witness to. It must be repealed. Constituents cannot be heard when they fear their own elected leaders. I would file a bill to create a comprehensive sexual misconduct policy for the Capitol and an easy to access reporting system for anyone who enters our Capitol to avail themselves of.
Goodwin: Mayor Adler has called Austin the safest big city in the country. To remain safe, I support continued efforts at community policing which allows patrol officers to be involved with members of the community to develop relationships that help keep our communities safe. I also would support closing the boyfriend loophole that currently doesn’t prevent a boyfriend who has committed domestic violence from buying a firearm. What happened in Sutherland Springs and Las Vegas were preventable tragedies. We must do everything we can to prevent the wrong people from obtaining firearms.
Simpson: Safety of a districts’ citizens is a fundamental responsibility of any and all elected officials. Ensuring that this is provided starts with transparency in a manner that will build and foster trust. If elected, I will drive hard to ensure that local authorities have the control needed to protect and serve ALL citizens. The State should not have policy that requires local authority to interrogate or investigate citizens based on racial profiling, nor should a local authority be required to allocate resources to do the policing actions of federal law enforcement.
Soltes: As Mayor Adler has been quoted “Austin is the safest big city in Texas.” Let’s keep it that way. I am a big believer in community policing and hiring a diverse law enforcement force to ensure that all citizens are represented. I support body cameras for law enforcement, for every ones protection and making that footage available to the family of the accused immediately following an event.