AUSTIN — Two candidates -- siblings -- are battling it out to represent District 3 on the Austin City Council.
KVUE sent a list of questions to each candidate. Here's what they had to say.
For more on KVUE's election coverage you can head to KVUE.com/votetexas.
Pio Renteria - Incumbent
Why are you running for the Austin City Council?
I am running for Council to make sure that the families who built our city and have made Austin such a great place to live are able not just to remain but to ensure they are able to thrive and have access to quality services. That’s why my top priorities are affordable housing, public transportation, and economic opportunity.
What do you believe are the most pressing issues for the people in your district?
Affordability is the most pressing issue for District 3 residents. We need to focus on lowering the cost of housing and transportation but that alone won’t solve our affordability crisis, we also need to make sure working families and small local businesses can make more so we can raise Austin’s quality of life and protect what makes our city so special.
What do you think is the key to addressing affordability in Austin?
Affordability is a multi-pronged challenge that requires multi-pronged solutions. There is no magic bullet that will solve our affordability crisis, but my work and my campaign are focused on addressing three priorities that can have the most significant impact. The first is Affordable Housing. As our city continues to grow, low-income and working families are being displaced, including those that have been here for generations. East Austin has felt the burden most. But lack of affordable housing is a city-wide issue. That’s why we need to build affordable housing everywhere and not concentrate it in just one area. We need to build affordable housing in places with access to resources like schools, jobs, healthcare, and healthy food choices. My goal is to help build inclusive, multi-generational neighborhoods with economic diversity. That’s why I’ve helped non-profit housing providers like Austin Habitat for Humanity, the Housing Authority, and Mobile Loaves and Fishes build hundreds of affordable homes. And why I voted in support of the $250 million affordable housing bond. My second priority is Affordable and Accessible Transportation. While housing receives a lot of attention, transportation is the second-highest expense for most families. Transportation costs like car payments, registration, insurance, maintenance, repairs, and parking add up. That means that many families are left with few mobility choices. We need to provide affordable and accessible transportation options. That’s why I supported the 2016 Mobility Bond and why I use my position on the Cap Metro Board to advocate for a more equitable and reliable transit system. And finally, my third priority is Economic Opportunity. Managing to lower the cost of housing and transportation will only do so much for affordability. While we try to make these things cost less, we also need to make sure working Austinites can make more. We need to provide more educational and economic opportunities to Austin families. That’s why I’ve consistently advocated for workers and small businesses. I voted to raise the City of Austin living wage to $15 an hour and to expand worker protections, including paid sick leave. That work has earned me the endorsement of the Workers Defense Action Fund and the Central Labor Council.
How can Austin address its growing traffic and transportation challenges?
We are one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the nation and the 11th largest city in the United States. The growth we are experiencing is not likely to stop anytime soon. The elevated demand for housing combined with an outdated land development code has led to endless sprawl. That in turn has exacerbated our traffic crisis. And that traffic has affected our environment and economy in disastrous ways. We cannot continue to ignore this reality and instead must commit ourselves to planning in smarter ways that allow us to build the housing we need, including low-income and affordable housing, along major mobility corridors to support a truly multi-modal transportation system with a robust public transit network. We need to make real investments, like the successful $720 million mobility bond, and leverage that money by working with local and regional partners to have the greatest impact.
For the next set of questions, please tell us if you are For or Against the following propositions and why.
Prop A: $250 million for affordable housing
Prop B: $128 million for libraries, museums and cultural centers
Prop C: $149 million for parks and recreation
Prop D: $184 million for flood mitigation, open space and water quality protection
Prop E: $16 million for health and human services
Prop F: $38 million for public safety
Prop G: $160 million for transportation infrastructure
I am FOR Propositions A through G because they are necessary quality of life investments in our city that will help us provide better services to Austin families. They include funding for affordable housing, road and sidewalk improvements, and resources to help us address flooding. They will help us protect open space and provide better public safety facilities.
Prop H: Amend the city charter to state the term of service and process for removal of members of the Planning Commission would be determined by ordinance.
Proposition I: Amend the city charter to make non-substantive corrections to grammar, typographical errors, capitalization, punctuation and sentence structure to the city charter and remove language that is obsolete.
I am FOR of Propositions H and I because they include clarifications on the process for decisions surrounding the composition of the Planning Commission and make technical and grammatical corrections to the Charter.
Prop J: Shall a City ordinance be adopted to require both a waiting period and subsequent voter approval period, a total of up to three years, before future comprehensive revisions of the City's land development code become effective?
I am AGAINST Proposition J because it would create up to a three-year waiting period for the council to make major changes to the land development code. That would include changes that could help us provide smarter planning for affordable housing and transportation as well as initiatives that can protect our environment and watershed.
Prop K: Without using the existing internal City Auditor or existing independent external auditor, shall the City Code be amended to require an efficiency study of the City's operational and fiscal performance performed by a third-party audit consultant, at an estimated cost of $1 million - $5 million?
I am AGAINST Proposition K because it has rightly been referred to by many as a Trojan horse. The ballot initiative is a deceitful attempt by far-right anti-Austin political operatives who refuse to reveal their donors to force the City of Austin to waste up to $4 million tax-payer dollars on an unnecessary study in order to justify reducing and privatizing city services
Candidate did not respond to our questions.