2018 Primary Voters Guide - Williamson County

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 elections covering Williamson County in 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 Travis County voter?  Read our Travis County Voters Guide!

Early voting locations in and near District 6 for Williamson County:

Anderson Mill Limited District Office
11500 El Salido Parkway

Brushy Creek Community Center
16318 Great Oaks Drive

Cedar Park Randalls
1400 Cypress Creek Road

Tuesday, February 20 through Friday, February 23  - 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
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 wilco.org/elections

In addition to the campaigns for Congress and State Senate in Williamson County, there are also amazing folks running for State House, County Judge, County Treasurer, County Clerk, County Commissioner, Justice of the Peace, and other judicial races.  They are running unopposed in the primary but are all facing challengers in November. For additional information on candidates up and down the ballot, visit Vote411 by the League of Women Voters

US Congress District 31

Mike Clark Mike Clark
MJ Hegar Mary Jennings “MJ” Hegar
Kent Lester Kent Lester
Christine Mann Christine Eady Mann

Question 1: If elected, what will you do to address traffic in Austin?

Mike ClarkClark: A 21st century transportation solution is the essential backbone of our regional economy. Our current roads are always in a state of construction. Our focus should be on efficiently moving people, goods and services. This includes high speed and light rail. I would propose diverting some of the existing gasoline tax money to help fund that effort. I would also sponsor funding a modern zero-emission busing system, as well as accessible walkways and bike paths. To further jump start these projects, I would sponsor legislation that would provide 0% interest federal loans for cities that commit to these long-range transportation plans.

MJ HegarHegar: Traffic congestion in the Austin area has an impact on everything from job creation to quality of life. As your congresswoman, I will advocate through the Department of Transportation for grant funding to help fund infrastructure projects, like the competitive FASTLANE grant, which would support critical freight issues in the area.

Kent LesterLester: It is terrible! At the federal level I will initiate legislation that addresses infrastructure upgrade. That would include transportation. Interstate commerce is a federal responsibility, and I would look to adding high speed rail (passenger and freight) as well as expanding I35 and making it safer. I would advocate locally for a more logical transportation pattern within greater Austin (including Cedar Park, Round Rock, Georgetown) and greater financial benefits for individuals who carpool, and businesses that allow working from home and flex hours.

Christine MannMann: Austin traffic issues not only cause headaches for residents, but discourage new businesses from relocating into the Austin metro area. The role of the federal government in alleviating traffic issues is to support and invest in solutions that make sense for the local community. Austin Mayor Steve Adler, through MobilityATX has created a framework for finding solutions for Austin. I am committed to providing infrastructure investment throughout Congressional District 31. Infrastructure investment by the federal government can be used to improve already existing roads and bridges, build new solutions for traffic congestion, and create jobs.

Question 2: If elected, what steps will you take to address affordability issues in Austin?

Mike ClarkClark: Increasing the minimum wage to $15/hour will ensure household stability and business growth. Attracting businesses with good paying jobs is another way to address affordability, but it is imperative to promote businesses that startup, grow and stay. I would sponsor grant funding through the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts to spearhead art and science innovations. Low interest loans and low down-payment programs are critical to help consumers. Smart planning is essential for people to live and work in communities. Teachers, firefighters, and police officers deserve to live, work, and serve in the same community.

MJ HegarHegar: Affordability is certainly an issue in Austin and challenges the Keep Austin Weird movement. Housing is amongst the top expenses in most families, and affordable housing will continue to be a priority of mine as your congresswoman. In congress I will advocate for programs like the Low Income Housing Tax Credit.

Kent LesterLester: At the federal level I am a supporter of expanded Section 8 affordable housing. Safe, affordable housing is a key component of the American Dream. I want more housing available and I want close oversight to ensure that the people who most need and qualify get this assistance. At the state level, I would encourage Texas to eliminate the tax loophole they have in place for commercial property. Commercial property needs to be appraised at the fair market value - not the value of the undeveloped land at the time of purchase.

Christine MannMann: Rapidly rising home prices in the Austin area are pushing home-buyers and renters out of the market and into surrounding communities. In addition to local and state-based solutions, affordability can be addressed from a federal level by raising the minimum wage to at least $15 per hour; creating legislation that incentivizes lower interest loans to qualified borrowers; revamping consumer protections to protect borrowers from predatory lenders; and reworking the credit rating system which currently benefits only lenders at the expense of borrowers.

Question 3: If elected, how will you ensure that our community remains safe?

Mike ClarkClark: First, I would propose federal legislation that legalizes gun free zone initiatives at the local level. I would also include funding to encourage the recruitment and retention of police officers from the community where they live. Safety mirrors at the corners of pedestrian crosswalks will be a priority. I would sponsor federal programs that “lift up” the economic status for long-term residents and family businesses in communities of color for redevelopment areas rather than people being “pushed out”.

MJ HegarHegar: I’ve lived in this district almost my whole life, and I’m raising my kids here now. Safety is one of my top priorities. I spent three years working with law enforcement in California, and I look forward to partnering with them again in District 31 to ensure that we have the resources in place to prevent crime and be responsive during crises. The safety of our schools is at the forefront of my policy priorities.

Kent LesterLester: First, the Austin area needs more police, fire and paramedic coverage. These first responders should also be highly trained in de-escalation. I am also a supporter of federal initiatives toward community based policing. Additionally, I will fight to ensure that charitable donations remain tax free, because without those incentives, nonprofits devoted to protecting victims of abuse could suffer substantially.

Christine MannMann: Protecting public safety is one of the core functions of government. Austin is one of the safest cities in Texas, ranking 21st out of 24 on the FBI’s ranking. To keep Austin safe, I support local initiatives such as creating and implementing community policing models and neighborhood watch groups, body cameras for police officers, and collaboration between justice groups and the police department to develop best practices for law enforcement.

State Senate District 5

Brian Cronin
Meg Walsh
Glenn “Grumpy” Williams

Question 1: If elected, what will you do to address traffic in Austin?

Cronin: Reducing traffic and increasing mobility is a critical issue facing our area. As your representative, I will be focused on modernizing Public Transportation with increased clean-fuel buses; additional commuter train lines, and investments in high speed Rail. This will take cars off the road and help bring all people in our community to opportunity: schools, jobs and local businesses -- including restaurants and entertainment. Great transportation is not only a priority for residents but mobility from airports to venues and urban areas is the cornerstone of tourism and a better economy. Linking Texas’ cities and towns will also help to improve the standard of living and create new jobs.

Walsh: When elected, I will work collaboratively with the Central Texas delegation to find solutions to our congestion that won’t compromise the unique beauty and sustainability of our Capitol city – including greater access to public transportation in urban areas, smarter land development, and road expansions where indicated.

Williams: Allow local governments to establishment public-private partnership - needed for bipartisanship infra-structure legislation. Allow state grants to reduce equity of road projects. Fund study of aerial gondolas.

Question 2: If elected, what steps will you take to address affordability issues in Austin?

Cronin: Skyrocketing property taxes are causing affordability issues across Texas. I believe the government must provide the economic context for residents to have increased opportunities to own a home, go to college, and/or start a business. Right now, Texas has higher overall taxes than 28 states and is 44th lowest in home ownership. This is because there are reduced opportunities for families to buy homes when real estate taxes are high (Sources: WalletHub.com, U.S. Census). The reduction in real estate taxes can easily be offset with other income sources such as attracting new industries, better funding our schools at the state level, and closing tax loopholes for big corporations. This will provide more opportunities to those who want to make an investment in their family and Texas, particularly hard working middle class families.

Walsh: Affordability is a growing concern in Austin as well as other areas of SD 5. As your state Senator, I will focus on increasing the state’s funding of public education to ease the burden currently passed down to our citizens through property taxes.

Williams: Attempt to show to legislature wisdom of Adler’s plan to set aside development fees for building affordable housing units. Try again to show Governor Abbot wisdom of Representative Rodriguez bill 3281 allowing for homestead preservation district. This time we need to use really small words (none longer than 5 letters) and use lots of pictures.

Question 3: If elected, how will you ensure that our community remains safe?

Cronin: Ensuring Public Safety and building cohesive communities is a foundational charge of any government. Texas currently has the 15th highest violent crime rate in the country. There is tension between citizens & public safety Officers. On your next State Senator, I will prioritize community based policing principles that protect the rights of women, minorities, immigrates and all people in our neighborhood. Community Policing is a national focus that can be more fully leveraged and have positive results in Texas. This takes more investment in training so we will need to invest in police, fire, and medical staff to respond to emergencies but also to be a positive, proactive force in neighborhoods. They are the government employees out in the community and have opportunity to make real difference.

Walsh: The constitution was created to give local control to cities so that they can respond to public safety concerns with the speed and agility demanded by their unique needs, among other things. To that end, as your senator I will lend all the support needed to help the City of Austin maintain its autonomy. With respect to gun violence, I am in full favor of strengthening background checks, which, when done correctly, have been shown to drastically reduce deaths of women at the hands of their intimate partners - and eliminating loopholes that allow criminals access to guns.

Williams: To insure citizens have confidence in police department we need to insure that State Civil Service Statute allows for police monitor with subpoena power whether or not there is contract with police union. Need to insure no retaliation occurs against those testifying in police disciplinary hearing or criminal trial of police officer.