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Austin District 4 election: What you need to know before voting

This month, residents in Austin's District 4 will choose a new council member to represent them. Election Day is Jan. 25.

AUSTIN, Texas — This month, a special election will be held to choose a new Austin City Council member for District 4. The most recent District 4 council member, Greg Casar, is running for Congress.

The special election will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 25. Early voting ran from Monday, Jan 10, until Friday, Jan. 21. The last day to register to vote in this election was Dec. 27. Voters who wished to apply for a mail-in ballot had until Friday, Jan. 14, to do so. 

Participation in this election is limited to registered voters in District 4, located in North-Central Austin. 


Here's a guide to what you need to know before voting:

Are you registered to vote?

The deadline for residents to register to vote in the Jan. 25 election was Dec. 27. If you live in District 4, you can check online to see if you are currently registered to vote in this election.

What to bring to a polling site to vote

To vote in person in Texas, you must present a valid photo ID. Below is a list of valid forms of identification:

  • Texas drivers licenses issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
  • Texas Personal Identification Card issued by DPS
  • Texas handgun license issued by DPS
  • U.S. Military Identification Card that contains the person's photograph
  • U.S. Citizenship Certificate that contains the person’s photograph
  • U.S. passport

Here’s a list of what to bring if do not have one of the accepted forms of photo ID and “cannot reasonably obtain one”:

  • Copy or original of a government document that shows the voter’s name, address, including voter’s voter registrations certificate
  • Copy of or original current utility bill
  • Copy of or original bank statement
  • Copy of or original government check
  • Copy of or original paycheck; or
  • Copy of or original of (a) a certified birth certificate from a U.S. state or territory or (b) a document confirming birth admissible in a court of law which establishes the voter’s identity

If you are unable to present a valid photo ID but can present one of the above forms of supporting ID, you will need to fill out a Reasonable Impediment Declaration.

How to request a mail-in ballot

To vote by mail in Texas, you must be 65 years old or older, sick or disabled, out of the county on Election Day and during the early voting period or confined in jail but otherwise eligible.

The last day to apply for a mail-in ballot for the January election is Friday, Jan. 14. To vote by mail, you also must drop your application off at your county elections office. 

You can submit your application by fax or email. However, a hard copy of the application must be mailed and then received by the early voting clerk within four business days.

Applications are available to be printed online. You can also contact your local elections office to receive one or request one from the secretary of state’s office. For more information about voting by mail in Travis County, click here.

Where you can vote

On Election Day, polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you get in line by 7 p.m., you will be able to cast your ballot. 

There are seven Election Day polling locations for this election:

  • Chinatown Center, located at 10901 N. Lamar Blvd.
  • YMCA North Austin, located at 1000 W. Rundberg Lane
  • Navarro Early College High School, located at 1201 Payton Gin Road
  • Gus Garcia Recreation Center, located at 1201 E. Rundberg Lane
  • Virginia L. Brown Recreation Center, located at 7500 Blessing Ave.
  • City of Austin Permitting and Development Center, located at 6310 Wilhelmina Delco Drive
  • Sawyer Hall, located at 1320 E. 51st. Street

Meet the candidates on the ballot

In November, District 4 Councilmember Greg Casar officially announced a run for Texas Congressional District 35, following Congressman Lloyd Doggett's announcement that he's running for the new District 37. Casar officially filed to run on Dec. 1.

Casar is stepping down to run for Congress with three years remaining in his current term. He has served for seven years and most recently won re-election in November 2020.

Now, seven candidates are vying to replace Casar as District 4's representative. Some of the candidates have indicated plans to continue the push toward progressive politics that Casar has championed, while others plan to move in a different direction.

Below is a little about each of the seven candidates:

Jose "Chito" Vela

Jose "Chito" Vela, an Austin immigration and criminal defense attorney, announced his candidacy for the District 4 special election just days after Casar announced he was running for Congress. Vela said at his campaign announcement event that his No. 1 priority on city council would be to "make sure that Austin is a welcoming city for working-class people, not a playground for the wealthy."

Vela has experience working in the Texas Attorney General's Office and as general counsel to a Texas state representative. He has served on the City of Austin Planning Commission and as board chair for the Workers Defense Project. In 2018, he ran for Texas House District 46.

Casar has endorsed Vela for the District 4 seat.

Amanda Rios

Amanda Rios states on her campaign website that she has lived in Austin for 30 years and in East Austin for 13 years. She says she has always served diverse communities "ranging from working with refugees in Houston to Title 1 schools here in Austin as a bilingual teacher."

Rios's platform includes a focus on public safety and affordability issues. According to KVUE's media partners at the Austin American-Statesman, she has financially supported the political action committee Save Austin Now.

Monica Guzmán 

According to her campaign website, Monica Guzmán is a native Austinite who has previously served as part of the City of Austin's Equity Action Team. She is currently the policy director for GAVA (Go Austin/Vamos Austin), a group of residents and nonprofits working to improve community health in South Austin. 

She was also the chair of the Restore Rundberg Revitalization team and currently serves on the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force and the Caritas of Austin Board of Directors. Her issues include social justice reform and fighting climate change. According to the Statesman, she ran for the District 4 seat in 2014.

Jade Lovera

Jade Lovera describes herself as a born-and-raised Austinite who has lived in District 4 her entire life. She spent more than a decade in property management before leaving the industry to help build a nonprofit organization. She is currently the chief strategy officer for Women Who Work, "an organization that provides tools and resources for women to succeed on their own terms with a focus on women of color and providing access to those of lower socioeconomic experiences." 

Lovera is focused on park investment, community safety and affordability. According to the Statesman, she got involved in local politics by organizing an ongoing community effort to challenge a proposed zoning change to a single-family neighborhood in District 4.

Melinda Schiera

Melinda Schiera moved to Austin in 2005. She volunteered as vice-president and president of the North Austin Civic Association and, according to her campaign website, has led "communication, beautification and safety efforts for the past 10+ years." She is a freelance marketing data analyst under her business, Belt Out Loud Marketing.

Schiera is running on a platform of transportation infrastructure, affordability and housing. She also wants to improve the City's process for removing abandoned vehicles.

Isa Boonto

According to the Statesman, Isa Boonto is an art teacher at Navarro Early College High School and a former president of the North Austin Civic Association. She wants to address affordability concerns and Austin's limited housing supply. 

Ramesses II Setepenre

Ramesses II Setepenre is a rideshare driver who ran for the District 4 seat in 2020. According to the Statesman, Setepenre said he ran in 2020 because he was mistreated as a City Hall employee and he felt his concerns were not adequately addressed. 

On his campaign Facebook page, Setepenre describes himself as a "self-funded, gay eco-socialist."

If needed, a runoff election for the District 4 seat would be held in March.

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