Austin City Council Election Profiles: District 8

 
 

By: Bridget Spencer

POSTED: OCT 12 2018 10:11PM CDT

VIDEO POSTED: OCT 12 2018 09:51PM CDT

Council District 8 sits in Southwest Austin, and voters have four people to choose from.

Let's start with Rich DePalma.

"I'm a social liberal and a fiscal pragmatic," said DePalma.

DePalma owns a consulting firm and says what district 8 needs is someone who is active. "This is really my community, and I've been giving back for the last 12 years, actually longer than all the candidates combined,” said DePalma.

One of his plans is to take a careful look at spending, and make sure money, if it is needed, is being spent on all the right things. He mentioned Troxclair’s vote against some programs he wanted to save. "That council member voted against senior transportation, HIV support services, these are things I do value,” said DePalma.

Paige Ellis, is a native San Antonian, but she's lived in Austin for more than a decade.

As an environmental consultant, her push, is for Southwest Austin to be champions in environmental protection. "We are in the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone, and it is home to many endangered species. We need to make sure our water is clean and our air is clean to protect these species,” said Ellis.

Public transportation is something she thinks Southwest Austinites need to have the option to use.

Providing more options and expanding cap metro services would be something she looks into. "There are some routes that are really well put in place with lots of stops and they have awnings to make sure people are protected from the heat and the rain, and there are others that have been completely ignored,” said Ellis.

Someone with similar interests when it comes to environment issues, is candidate Bobby Levinski.  

He wants to get busy on a water planning project Austin Water is looking into, called Water Forward. "I think it's important we adopt a water forward plan that is reflective of climate change and responsive to the urgency that's needed to become more water resilient in our community,” said Levinski.

Many of District 8's residents drive to work. Levinski thinks the proposed parkway project will ease up congestion at the "Y" in Oak Hill.

"I believe a parkway is a better design for improving the Y. I believe if we can get the city and county involved in that planning conversation we can deliver a product faster to the community to get traffic moving but also quicker so it's more affordable,” said Levinski.

All of the candidates mentioned Austin's affordability crisis, saying it's a problem all over town, not just on the eastside. Frank Ward, who was endorsed by sitting council member Ellen Troxclair says District 8 sometimes gets the short end of the stick because of a perceived notion that everyone living there is affluent.

"We do have a very high number of homeowners, almost 70 percent in the district. But between those homeowners and renters, there are a lot of people hurting. I hear from constituents who say we feel we aren't getting the same kind of care or services that other parts of the city receive,” said Ward.

Ward, who works in public affairs, says city council should conserve money when it can be and his first goal if elected, is to fix property taxes. "We don’t have to tax people into oblivion,” said Ward.

Ward was the only candidate out of the four, against paid sick leave ordinance.

"What I'm opposed to is government regulating what a private business should do," said Ward.

Affordability and housing, taxes, the environment, mobility, all these candidates mean well, but they just have different ways of addressing them.

Deciding how they should be addressed, will be up to voters come Nov. 6.

Frank Ward