AUSTIN, Texas — This November, five Austin City Council seats will appear on the ballot. Residents who live in districts two, four, six, seven and 10 will have the opportunity to vote for who they would like to represent them.
"Always the two biggest things are traffic and affordability. But this election has additional issues that haven't been there and that are things like homelessness, obviously policing, and crime," said Brian Smith, a professor of political science at St. Edward's University.
"A mix of all of these issues together combine to form a type of voter that isn't necessary tied directly to [a] party," added David Thomason, an assistant professor of political science at St. Edward's.
The City of Austin's Ethics Review Commission and the League of Women Voters Austin Area will host open forums for each district to allow the candidates to discuss their platforms ahead of the election. Learn more.
Here's a look at who's running for each of those five districts:
UPDATE: Alex Strenger was originally a candidate in this race but confirmed to KVUE on Oct. 11 that he has dropped out and is endorsing Casey Ramos for District 2.
Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza, who currently represents District 2, has been elected to serve as the Travis County attorney, so she will be stepping down from her city council position. Four candidates are vying to replace her.
Fuentes describes herself as a proud southeast Austinite, community organizer and public health advocate. She was raised by a Mexican immigrant mother and military veteran father and is a first-generation college graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. For the past five years, she has worked as a director at the American Heart Association.
Chincanchan was raised in southeast Austin and says he "understands firsthand how the affordability crisis is impacting our neighborhoods." According to his website, he has worked to advance affordable housing and public transportation initiatives in the city.
Ramos describes himself as a "community activist dedicated to the advancement and education of people in Austin, Texas."
The City's forum for District 2 was held on Wednesday, Sept. 16.
Greg Casar (incumbent)
Casar describes himself as a labor and community organizer. He is the son of Mexican immigrants and the youngest person ever elected to the city council. According to his website, while on the council, he has passed policies to "disrupt" mass incarceration and deportation, support Planned Parenthood and "end inexcusable tax breaks for the wealthiest." He is also the sponsor of Austin's paid sick days law.
Herrin is an environmental engineer with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, where he has worked for almost 40 years. He has lived in the current District 4 area for over 20 years, according to his website. Among his top priorities are preventing the defunding of the police and reinstating the city's camping ban.
Setepenre describes himself as a "self-funded, gay eco-socialist" who is "pro-Black, brown, LGBTQIA+, women’s rights, indigenous rights, sex work, drug decriminalization, health care for all, slavery reparations, living wages, getting money out of politics [and a] Green New Deal."
The City's forum for District 4 was held on Wednesday, Sept. 23.
Jimmy Flannigan (incumbent)
Flannigan is a small business owner who has lived in northwest Austin for 20 years, according to his website. He is the former president of the Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Austin Chamber's Transportation Committee and the co-founder of the Northwest Austin Coalition.
According to Community Impact, Harrison is a retired Texas Department of Criminal Justice employee who has taken issue with "bonehead" decisions the city council has made, including those on police funding and homelessness.
Dr. Jennifer Mushtaler is an obstetrician-gynecologist and small business owner. She grew up in Houston, raised by a retired public school teacher and NASA engineer. Before going to medical school, she received a degree in electrical engineering. She currently serves as the president of the River Place Limited District and the River Place Homeowners Association.
Kelly describes herself as a northwest Austin native, mother, wife, ex-volunteer firefighter and public safety advocate. She is the president of Take Back Austin, a local advocacy group aimed at "restoring common sense and community impact in our local governance" and "exploring common-sense solutions for the challenges we face."
The City's forum for District 6 was held on Wednesday, Sept. 30.
Leslie Pool (incumbent)
According to her website, Pool has been a key part of the City's climate protection strategies. Last November, she sponsored both a resolution to identify financing to fund the construction of two new rail stations on Austin's Red Line in District 7 and the authorization of the public-private Red Line Parkway Trail partnership. She has also worked on numerous "open government" initiatives.
Witt describes herself as a "newcomer to the Austin political scene." She started her career as a K-12 Spanish teacher before moving into Adult Basic Education and currently works as a Bilingual Education Advisor. She is a native Austinite who believes there are long-standing inequities in the city that should be addressed.
The City's forum for District 7 will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 7.
Alison Alter (incumbent)
Alter describes herself as "a mom, an entrepreneur, a community advocate and an educator." She launched Alter Advising, a philanthropic advertising practice, in 2013 and has over 20 years of experience working in higher education, the nonprofit sector and through public-private partnerships, according to her website. As a council member, she serves on several committees, including the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO).
Greene was born and raised in the Houston area and has lived in Austin for 14 years. According to her website, for the last 12 years, she has worked locally in the food sales industry, working with area restaurants, hotels, hospitals and school districts.
Sethi is an attorney with a background in civil rights law. She is the daughter of immigrants and, in 2012, she founded the nonprofit South Asian Austin Moms. She has served on the Mayor's Task Force on Racism and Systemic Inequities, the Office of Police Oversight Task Force and the Climate Plan Steering Committee. She also sits on the Asian American Quality of Life Advisory Commission.
Easton is an author, software trainer, freelance writer and former math teacher. According to the Austin Monitor, he has lived in Austin for more than 17 years.
According to his website, Thomas has lived in Northwest Hills for nearly 30 years. He has served as the chair of the Texas Facilities Commission, commissioner of the Texas Workforce Commission and worked with various other local and state groups and agencies. He began his career as a law clerk in the Travis County Attorney's Office before serving as an assistant city attorney in Houston.
According to Austonia, Tristan is a business owner.
Virden has lived in the current District 10 for most of her life, according to her website. She is an independent real estate broker and remodeling general contractor. She is opposed to Project Connect, believes in reinstating the city's camping ban and is opposed to defunding the police.
The City's forum for District 10 was held on Wednesday, Oct. 29.
If there is a runoff in any of the city council races, the City will host a forum on Monday, Nov. 30.
For more information on the November election, check out the KVUE voter guide.
PEOPLE ARE ALSO READING: