AUSTIN, Texas — Monday, Oct. 18, is the first day of early voting for the Nov. 2 election. Austinites will vote on two City propositions, Props A and B.
Prop A is the more controversial of the two. If approved by voters, it would increase staffing for the Austin Police Department to two officers per 1,000 citizens and increase yearly training, minority hiring and community engagement.
The proposition has been heavily debated in the community. Some argue that a significant increase in homicides reflects the need for more officers. Others feel an increase in police staffing would force cuts to fire, EMS and 911 staff.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler is among those who oppose Prop A.
"I think it's real, real important for people to note that the police chief doesn't support the funding, staffing model of Prop A. It's opposed by the firefighters' association, the EMS association and over 100 different organizations. I'm not sure there's any organization that actually supports Proposition A other than the police union," Adler said during an interview with KVUE Daybreak.
The mayor stated that APD is in need of more officers, with almost 200 funded officer positions currently open that the City is "trying desperately" to fill with the current cadet class and two more coming on next year. But Adler said the problem with Prop A is a budgeting issue.
"Proposition A wants 500 officers on top of those 200 officers. And I think everyone that's really looked at this sees a real problem with our budget," Adler said. "It's going to require cuts in other public safety – EMS, fire, mental health first responders. It's going to impact funding for libraries and pools."
Adler said right now, Austin is funding police more than ever.
"Because of the State Legislature, we're right now funding our police more than we have ever in our history – $10 million more than the most we've ever done. And we pay more per capita as a community for police than any other large city," Adler said. "Proposition A is just the wrong idea. And it's something that once it gets started, because of the state law, it's something we can never change."
Adler also said supporters of Prop A have "purposefully arranged" for the proposition to be on the ballot during a low turnout election.
"There's not a president on the ballot, there's not a governor on the ballot. So, I think the proponents are hoping for a really low turnout so that a small number of people can make a decision for the entire community," Adler said. "This Proposition A really does turn back the clock. It's trying to go back to an old standard that really wasn't accepted even in the olden days, certainly not today. And we need everyone to vote because everyone's vote does count. It's going to be a low-turnout election, which means every vote is going to count even more than it usually does."
PEOPLE ARE ALSO READING: