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Former mayor, state Sen. Kirk Watson announces he's running for Austin mayor

Watson previously served as Austin's mayor from 1997 to 2001. He also has served 13-plus years in the Texas Senate.

AUSTIN, Texas — Kirk Watson, who previously served as Austin's mayor from 1997 to 2001 and 13-plus years in the Texas Senate, announced Tuesday that he's running for Austin's mayor once again. 

Watson announced his resignation from the Texas Senate in 2020.

According to his campaign website, Watson says he's running for mayor again "to ensure that the city — effectively and equitably — addresses the range of issues that will define our future."

He was elected as Austin's mayor at 39 years old back in 1997 and held the office for four years. 

During his tenure as mayor in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Watson negotiated agreements between the community and police officers that increased police oversight and led to the creation of Austin’s first Office of the Police Monitor; launched the SMART Housing program, the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, the Mayor’s Challenge Fund and other initiatives; and led efforts to create Austin’s first resource center for people experiencing homelessness. 

Watson will look to take over for current Austin Mayor Steve Adler after the November election, joining Jennifer Virden, Rep. Celia Israel and Austin City Council Member Kathie Tovo in the race. Adler is not eligible for reelection.

Watson said he will prioritize addressing the rising cost of living in Austin, the city's homelessness crisis, systemic racism, public safety, transportation and managing long-term success. 

Whoever wins this 2022 election will serve as Austin's mayor for two years before having to run for re-election again in 2024. Last year, voters approved a ballot proposition to align mayoral races with presidential year elections.

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