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Austin voters elect new District 9 councilmember

The race went to a runoff in November when candidates Zo Qadri and Linda Guerrero received the most votes but neither a majority.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin City Council has a new councilmember for District 9 – Zohaib "Zo" Qadri.

Qadri, a former political advocacy strategist, and Linda Guerrero, an Austin teacher who serves on several city commissions, went to the runoff election this Tuesday after they received the most votes in November but neither a majority. 

Last month, Qadri earned 30% and Guerrero raked in 22%. Here are the results from the runoff:

Qadri will soon be replacing District 9 Councilmember Kathie Tovo, who is stepping down from the dais. District 9 covers a central portion of Austin, including the downtown area.

Both candidates spoke with KVUE's Ashley Goudeau earlier this year. Check out their full interviews below:

Zohaib "Zo" Qadri

Goudeau: As we head into this runoff. What do you believe makes you the better candidate?  

Qadri: "Yeah, I mean, I think it's, you know ... there's a stark difference between the two candidates that made the runoff. You know, the first thing I'll touch on is experience. Working in multiple city governments as small as Kyle and as large as Houston, doing the policy work at the Texas Capitol, which is just super important to know how to move policy through, especially, you know, working in the Capitol, working for a member of the minority party, being able to work with others across the aisle. Working on an electoral campaigns and advocacy efforts basis, you know, pushing back against harmful legislation, harmful bills. As an organizer, I think is really important. You know, I think we need more organizers in office, whether it be myself or others, folks who are of the people, who are on the ground, who are constantly organizing and mobilizing and fighting. You know, this is a unique skillset from city experience to policy experience to organizing experience. And then, you know, I would add, you know, it's not something that necessarily makes me better, but I think it's extremely important, and that's representation. You know, there's no one from the from the AAPI community, you know, represented on the dais, hasn't been since [inaudiable] but important for my community to have a voice and then to uplift the voices of others who have given, you know ... to the city, who have uplifted my voice and the voices of my community and just to be a constant ally."

What do you believe is the most pressing issue for residents in District 9 and what would you do to address it if you're elected to the council? 

Qadri: "Yeah, I mean, I think, truthfully, there's so many issues. We've been at the doors since since April as a campaign, we've knocked on tens of thousands of doors. I think the top issues, you know, range from transit to public safety and its relation to, you know, the unhoused community in this district. But I think the number one issue when we talk on, you know, and talk to voters at the doors is, is our housing crisis. And we are in a housing crisis. And to say otherwise is just being disingenuous and dishonest. You know, we need more housing, but we need more affordable housing. You know, and ways that it can be done obviously, it's long term, looking at a code rewrite of the land development code which hasn't been updated sine 1984. But I think in the interim, looking at things like expediting the permitting process, which, you know, that costs, you know, adversely affects homeowners and renters, you know, looking to build more, you know, by major transit areas and in our urban, you know, parts of the city. You know, to build more and to build more and more dense. You know, looking at things like building more duplexes and fourplexes and sixplexes, things that we see in neighborhoods like Mueller that work so beautifully, but, you know, we can't see that kind of, you know, building elsewhere in the city. And then I think giving more, you know, things like more autonomy to homeowners to build ADUs. I don't think it's a solution, but, you know, like it's that final solution, but I do think it takes a lot of the burden off the housing strain and the crises that we're facing. And, you know, when folks have things like ADUs, it helps folks like, you know, students and it helps, you know, young professionals and it helps, you know, folks who have lived in this city for so long and because of the housing crisis have been pushed out, but it still gives them an in to the city. So I think there's so much stuff that we can do, you know, in the interim, you know, building on the VMU 2 and Affordability Unlocked programs, you know, that the city has already been, you know, set up with. You know, we need to do right by folks in the city, folks who gave so much to the city and folks unfortunately, like our teachers or firefighters or restaurant workers who are being priced out of the city."  

Linda Guerrero

Goudeau: Tell us a little bit about why you're running for this seat.  

Guerrero: "Certainly. One of the reasons I'm running for this seat is to foster community values, and I want to continue my family legacy to fight for equity in Austin."  

Goudeau: If viewers aren't familiar with that legacy, tell us a little bit about it.  

Guerrero: "Yes. My family has been fighting for decades in Austin for equity. Back in the day, we called it injustices. And as a tribute to my father's passion and effortless work, there's been the naming of the Roy G. Guerrero Park, and there's also the naming of the Connelly Guerrero Senior Activity Center. And then there's the Ricky Guerrero Park. And so, these are all facilities to honor and tribute my family in our constant endeavors to get equality and equity throughout Austin."

Goudeau: Tell us what you believe makes you the better candidate.  

Guerrero: "Certainly. You know, I have 20 years of working on boards and commissions. I chaired the Environmental Board. I chaired the Parks Board. I was vice chair of the Downtown Commission. I also have worked on many neighborhoods as an executive officer. I've also worked on my neighborhood for years, volunteering my time as I have on my boards and commissions. In addition, I've spearheaded the parkland dedication fee ordinance when I was on the Parks Board and the Lake Austin planning that was done that we could look at the Lake Austin safety issues that no one had looked at when they gave it over to the city. LCR did, LCR sent it to the city around the '50s. And so, that's really been part of me looking holistically at the city as I have worked on hundreds and hundreds of projects. I've looked at budgets when I was on the Bond Oversight Commission, looking at previous budgets that have not quite finished out those projects and trying to ensure transparency and accountability. So those were the many years of experience I have working with the city, city staff and stakeholders."  

Goudeau: What do you believe is the most pressing issue for the residents in District 9?  

Guerrero: "I believe affordability bubbles up because, you know, as the city has grown and we've have so many people moving in here, we are losing that middle class that once was a huge piece and part of our District 9." 

Goudeau: And so what will you do to try to work to address affordability?  

Guerrero: "I'm going to immediately start looking to see how we can get more, additional land that is city and county partnerships so that we can find lands and do models such as the Mueller project. There's been quite successful. And we can make those MFI, medium family incomes, to where people that are on living wages, where fireman, EMS, teachers can afford to live within our city. And this is very important to me. And I am going to work diligently to ensure that we look at land that we can control the price point of those different rental or, you know, purchases. And we can really be able to do this if we do it on city land."

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