Natalie Gauldin says she has a plan for the City of Austin.
“I think I just have a smarter vision for the city. It’s a new vision.”
It’s why she decided to run for the Austin City Council to represent the people of District 7.
“I've been concerned lately that District 7 has not had an appropriate amount of representation for everyone living in the district. So many of the things that I have been doing have been amplifying the voices of the underrepresented members of the community,” said Gauldin. “So speaking to that, that’s the under 35-year old age group, they’re young, they don’t usually show up to meetings, but they are over 40 percent of the people who live in District 7. And in addition, over half of the people in District 7 are renters and they don’t typically show up to City Hall or other meetings. So their voices aren’t always heard. In addition to that we have a lot of people living north on 183, geographically it is most of the district, and it is really difficult for those people to drive down to City Hall and be heard, especially with the schedules the way that they are, having to sit through hours and hours of meetings. So, I am really thinking about those voices when I am running for city council I am wanting to make sure that everyone is heard.”
Gauldin believes her vision differs greatly from that of the incumbent council member, Leslie Pool.
“I’ve been actually disappointed with many of the votes taken by council member Pool. One of them, for example, is her choice to vote against apartments on Burnet Road. I think if we are a growing city if we are becoming more and more expensive every day it doesn’t make a lot of sense to try to block people from living on a place right on a bus route on Burnet Road. A place where they can walk to shops and restaurants, and that's really something that I strongly disagreed with, and there was a few other land use type of decisions similar to that. On top of that, my other big goal for the city of Austin is for us to improve our transportation infrastructure and she has not been supportive of any sort of rail, so that is another concern of mine. I think we're going to continue to grow as a city and we need to prepare for that growth by making sure people have housing and transportation options,” she said.
Gauldin was born in Houston, Texas but her family moved to Austin while she was still young. “So I grew up here in Austin. I actually lived in the district that I am running to represent. I went to Gullett Elementary School and Anderson High School.”
Gauldin went on to attend the University of Texas at Austin where she graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Applied Learning Development EC-5.
“I became a teacher and I have taught in over 30 different schools and parks when I worked with the Parks and Recreation Department. I am very involved with the community through that.”
Gauldin decided to leave the field of education and is now a technical writer.
She said her involvement with the community is what makes her the better choice for city council.
“I am in touch with the average resident and I think that they need to recognize that we have different paths going forward for the city, and if they want a future in the City of Austin, where they have more transportation choices and more affordable housing, then I would be the better choice.”
ON THE ISSUES
Q: Are you for or against Proposition 1, Austin’s Mobility Bond, and why?
“I am for the transportation bond. The reason why is because I think we need to start filling the backlog of projects that we have left off for many, many years. Not because I think that it is perfect package but because we have a lot of work to do to fix our transportation infrastructure and there are many very good projects within the bond. I am concerned because for many years we have decided to take the "if you don’t build it they won’t come" approach to our city planning and the reality is that people moved here anyways and because we didn’t invest in infrastructure it’s now much more expensive to build out the backlog that we have left for ourselves. So it's a really unfortunate position that we have put ourselves in but we need to make a step in the right direction. I am hoping that the next step involves mass transit, and really moves a lot of people around the city in an efficient way.
Q: What action do you believe the city needs to take to address traffic congestion?
“I really think recognizing that we don’t have a lot of capacity to expand the roads, especially in the central part of this city where there’s not a lot of room, we just have to recognize that we need to move people in a more efficient way and that is going to be mass transit. And I think in addition to that, most people in the district really want to see mass transit in place in Austin. They're well-traveled, they've been to other cities where it's working really well and want that for our city as well.” Q: How can the city increase affordability related to the cost of houses in Austin?
“So that is actually the key to my platform, I am running on affordability and transportation. And it’s my belief that not only do we need to increase the supply and availability of housing so that prices don’t continue to rise as rapidly as they have, but I think that we need to diversify the housing types. So I mentioned earlier one of the things that I disagreed with, with my opponent, and that was adding apartments on a key transit corridor. I think that was a big mistake. Another big mistake was when she decided against reducing the minimum lot size, I think that is going to be key. Not because we want to prevent people from having yards, because I think there are a lot of families that would like to have to do with a little less yard than they currently have. There’s many neighborhoods in the city that have homes that are on sub-standard, according to today's standards, are on sub-standard lots. There are beautiful wonderful houses like in Clarksdale and Hyde Park, but now it's illegal to build a house on a lot that small. The dirt is what is most expensive here in Austin, so if we let people own a little bit less of it that will make the city a little bit more affordable for them.” Q: The Martin Prosperity Institute found Austin is the “most economically segregated major metro area in the U.S.,” how do you propose Austin address this?
“I think that we are the most economically segregated city because we segregated our housing types so much. So to me, it is really important to diversify in housing types. To have a diversity in income ranges within the city.”
Q: What do you believe is the biggest need of the residents in District 7?
“It really is transportation and affordability and I suppose the combination of transportation and affordability, you want to live close to work but you can’t because you can’t afford to live there, and because of that you have to add additional car miles traveled on the road and so that adds to congestion. I think those things are just so closely paired and tied together that we can’t avoid putting them together as the biggest issue for District 7.” Q: You were instrumental in forming the Friends of the Grove that supports the planned development The Grove while your opponent, Leslie Pool, helped create the Bull Creek Road
The coalition which has several concerns about the project. What do you want your constituents to know about your position on the development?
“Mixed-use, live-work-play neighborhoods are popular with Austinites and important for sustainable growth so I support efforts to make this project succeed. My position has always been to look to City of Austin staff for recommendations on technical aspects of the plan such as drainage and traffic. I will not support a project that overwhelms nearby intersections with traffic or floods the area after a major rain event.”
“It is also important to note that our support of staff's recommendation resulted in the developer to agree to cut the density by almost 500k square feet. We support neutral expert reviewers, not the developer.”
Q: On a lighter note, Austinites like to believe we live in the “Live Music Capitol of the World,” so tell us, what’s your favorite song?
"Shake It Out" Florence + The Machine
MORE ON NATALIE GAULDIN
- Occupation: Technical Writer
- Education: the University of Texas at Austin: BS in Applied Learning Development EC-5
- Birthplace: Houston, Texas
- Years in Austin: 25
- Mobility Bond: For
Natalie Gauldin has been endorsed by the following organizations/individuals:
AURA Austin Apartment Association
Friends of Austin Neighborhoods Homebuilders Association of Greater Austin
University Democrats Hon. Lee Leffingwell
Hon. Chris Riley Hon. Randi Shade
To Read More About Natalie Gauldin, go here.