Plans Vs. Platitudes
It’s easy for candidates to sit on the sidelines and Monday Morning Quarterback four-years of accomplishments with simplistic buzzphrases. But what happens after Monday? What happens is, we learn the difference between solid, sustainable game plans and empty posturing.
Let’s Talk About Plans
The 2020 Austin City Council runoff election is not about a perfect one-size-fits-all plan. It is about having the vision, care, and wisdom to analyze multiple approaches to address the changing needs and challenges Austin faces.
In my first term, my office and I have delivered many solutions, leading on efforts covering Traffic and Transportation, Health, Public Safety, and Affordability. Our work has elevated District 6 from being on the sidelines to the head of the table, holding multiple leadership positions across a variety of issue areas at the City and regional level.
When I was first elected in 2016, traffic was by far the number one issue facing the district. And I delivered, with new infrastructure installed, funded, and approved in every corner of the district. There is still more work to do on that front (especially around getting regional agreement with TxDOT to improve 620!) and as a city appointee to CAMPO and CAPCOG, I'm best positioned to ensure those projects stay at the top of the list. While leading on traffic solutions, my focus this year expanded dramatically to help address the pandemic, homelessness, and public safety reform.
My opponent, however, offers no clear solutions for our city’s current slate of challenges. Nor does she have an understanding of how we got here or how to move forward for the good of the entire city.
When would she have time to? When she’s spending time in photo-ops with Proud Boys, or Ted Cruz, or Don Zimmerman? No, she doesn’t have time for plans or solutions: Her priorities are clear, and her history of aligning with problematic causes calls into question her seriousness and judgement.
Simply put: I have successfully delivered on promises and plans. My opponent has no plans – let alone A plan. This election is about trust and I believe my office and I have earned the trust of this district. We simply cannot trust my opponent to represent District 6.
A Plan For District 6
On Public Health
The pandemic is unlike anything our city, state, and country have ever faced.
The gravity and seriousness cannot be overstated. Our essential public safety workers on the front-lines are at risk. Our retail and laborers – essential workers who keep our city running are at risk. Parents are incredibly burdened, adding the role of teacher to the full-time job they already have, or sending their children off to schools, potentially putting them at risk. And conflicting direction from federal, state, and some Wilco leadership – adding unnecessary confusion – only compound our challenges.
I have led on many COVID initiatives for the city, authoring the first COVID response resolution back in March: The small business and non-profit grant program in June. I also co-sponsored the SAVES resolution in October to focus support on the industries most affected – live music, child care, and bars & restaurants.
Currently, I also chair the regional Economic Development Board and have been leading a revised planning process to ensure good quality jobs for this region – an essential component for our post-pandemic recovery.
Meanwhile my opponent has been entirely unserious about this growing crisis, setting a horrendous example in exchange for partisan points by attending many political events without masks, calling into question science and testing numbers, and pandering to those who claim the pandemic is a hoax. Lives are being lost, and my opponent chooses to put politics over solutions.
Despite well-funded campaigns of disinformation, Austin has been implementing a plan to address homelessness. First adopted in 2018, the initial Action Plan to End Homelessness continues to evolve and adapt, including to new and unforeseen challenges compounded by the pandemic. In the last two years, we have acted on the plan, and expanded it to include a growing and comprehensive suite of solutions and programs – including public space management & cleanups, rapid rehousing & shelter, permanent supportive housing, substance abuse & mental health services, and supportive services that help people stay in the housing they have and avoid becoming unhoused altogether. Solutions are crucial to District 6, and I have not shied away from this challenge, making it the focus of the October 19 meeting of the Council's Public Safety Committee (of which I am chair). It will grow to an incredibly comprehensive system that helps get us to a future where homelessness is brief, rare, and non-recurring.
While this system is scaling up, let’s be honest: No one is satisfied with the current options afforded to those who are unhoused. Camping under overpasses is not ideal for anyone. But it has never been our long-term solution. We can't pretend that homelessness is some new issue facing the city, or that 2019's ordinance changes can be blamed for a long history of homelessness issues in Austin. Prior attempts to escalate police enforcement did not magically solve the problem. And while people experiencing homeless are far more likely to be a victim of crime than a perpetrator, we deserve better solutions from the State to more effectively address repeat offenders of non-violent crimes like aggressive panhandling or property crime where long-term imprisonment is both unconstitutional and unsustainable.
My opponent has centered her campaign and recent public “advocacy” around politicizing and mocking the plight of those experiencing homelessness. We can all agree that there is no magic solution to homelessness yet my opponent's only offering is that somehow making it illegal will make it go away. District 6 is smarter, more thoughtful, and kinder than that.
On Public Safety Reform
Let’s be clear: "Defund" is a complete misnomer for the important and fiscally responsible work we are doing and have been doing for several years. I covered much on this topic, and the path forward, in posts from June and again in August.
Policing as the primary solution to social problems is fiscally unsustainable. The police budget has nearly doubled in the last 10 years, while the population grew by only 30%. We need new services that can better target the problems and address root causes – all while being more affordable and allowing our officers to focus on the very challenging and dangerous tasks for which they are best suited and specifically trained.
As Chair of the Council's Public Safety Committee*, I continue to lead thoughtful and pragmatic public discussions with APD leadership, and listen to community experts, city staff, and front-line officers about how to build a better suite of public services that ensure Austin remains the safest central city in America.
As with all of the issues facing our city, my opponent offers no solutions to the actual challenges of public safety and simply advocates for more money and political posturing. Fantastical notions of rising crime stats have been used as a cynical, political wedge, achieving a rare trifecta of Half True, Mostly False, and Pants on Fire ratings by Politifact. We cannot simply increase taxes to solve our community’s problems, and my opponent has expended zero intellectual capital thinking, imagining, or planning beyond that dead end.
Action vs. Chatter
There are serious challenges ahead for Austin. The COVID pandemic is spreading again, homelessness and public safety reform work continues without a clear conclusion, and the continued affordability crisis puts essential workers, our loved ones, our seniors, and other vulnerable populations at risk. I am ready to continue stepping up. I believe I have earned the trust of the community. And now, I just need your vote in December to ensure these problems get solved.
* You can watch the Public Safety Committee meetings live or archived on atxn.tv as we seek a future where we are investing in prevention, community support, and improved training as we build a public safety ecosystem that is both effective and sustainable.
The choice in the runoff election is clear - only Jimmy has a plan to address the issues facing D6 from Health to Homelessness to SafetyRead more
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