Note: Since these log files are derived from the Closed Captions created during the Channel 6 live cablecasts, there are occasional spelling and grammatical errors. These Closed Caption logs are not official records of Council Meetings and cannot be relied on for official purposes. For official records, please contact the City Clerk at 974-2210.

>> good evening, welcome to the 2012 austin I am stewart snider or of the austin league of women voters.

The league of women voters will be moderating this forum for mayoral candidates and for the austin city council places 2, 5 and 6.

The league of women voters is a nonpartisan political organization with both men and women members, that promotes the informed and active participation of citizens in government.

The league does not support or oppose candidates or parties.

Running for office.

The league members who are helping tonight are jacklyn williams, to my left, shelly baumgarten, nancy oelklaus, judy clack, frances mcintyre.

I wish to thank you to all of them for their volunteer service to this community.

I will now turn this over to jacklyn williams who will take it from here.

>> Thank you for being here tonight.

We know this is a really busy time for you.

The citizens of austin appreciate you taking time to share your responses to our questions in this forum.

This forum is being televised on channel 6 and will be repeated many times before the election on saturday, may 12, 2012.

Channel 6 is to be commended for providing information for the public and exposure for all the candidates.

The format tonight will be as follows: You will each be allowed a two minute opening statements, one minute closing statement and receive rotating questions with one minute to answer.

Our time keeper, who is judy clack, will hold up a an alarm tonight so we can be refined that the time is -- reminded that the time is up.

We have quite a few candidates to work with tonight.

All the questions originated from the league and are unknown to the candidates.

Before we begin, let me state that the views expressed here are those of the candidates and not the sponsor, the ethics review commission, or the mod radar, the austin league of women voters.

According to the guidelines of the austin league of women voters, there must be no applause or demonstrations of support or opposition from visitors in this room.

Candidates are asked to refrain from any personal attacks of opponents.

We will begin with the two minute opening statements from each candidate.

Then the league members will come forth and will be asking you questions.

Candidates will respond in the order that they are given by the questioner.

Then questions will be asked by others, if necessary.

>> Good evening, I'm nancy oelklaus and I would like to start the questioning with clay dafoe.

Are we going to do opening comments?

>> I beg your pardon?

>> Oh, I'm so sorry, i wasn't listening well.


Opening statements.

>> Hi, good evening, my name is clay dafoe, I'm a candidate for mayor.

graduate who worked as a legal assistant and tax professional.

I'm probably most well known for my work as a dedicated citizen activist at city ha I'm running for mayor because for too long our city council has failed to address the real concerns of austinites.

I feel like I provide simple, real answers to our problems which will address many of these problems we face today.

First, I want to keep austin affordable.

By eliminating the practice of granting corporate incentive packages that do nothing to improve our quality of life.

The council has consistently voted for such dubious projects such at the $250 million for state grants in formula one and most recently approved an 5 million tax rebate for apple, one of the wealthiest corporations in the world.

I want to return the city government's goal to providing an equal economic playing field, but not picking winners and losers.

In addition, we must do more to provide greater fiscal oversight of our public utilities.

I believe we can stop the proposed rate increase, if we're only willing to do the due diligence to stop the insane spending rampage that are suggest our citizens on the hook for our city council's poor decision making.

In addition, I want to encourage and facilitate greater citizen involvement in council meetings.

Instead of banning members of the public for merely addressing the council and folks for wanting to gather outside of city hall, I will protect our citizens constitutional rights to be here and have their voice heard in our city government.

Most importantly, I support the 10-one single member district plan, which will provide more effective and responsive representation.

I want to return the people's control of our city council.

Our government should never be used as an arbitrary manager of economic growth.

Should be the mechanism for protecting our rights.

I'm clay dafoe, people's candidate for mayor and i ask for your support today in helping me accomplish these goals.

Thank you.

>> Hello, I'm austin mayor lee leffingwell.

I'm a native austinite.

I was born here and I've spent most of my life here, attended austin public schools and graduated from travis high school.

Graduated from the university of texas, with a degree in mechanical engineering.

And after graduation, I went into the united states navy, where I was a pilot in the navy and served on active duty, including vietnam service for five years.

After that, I stayed in the reserves another 15 and retired as a senior officer in the navy at the rank of commander.

I have spent my career as a pilot for delta airlines, i flew for delta for 31 years, pretty much all over the world.

I spent four years as chair of the city's environmental board before I ran for council.

So environmental issues have always been -- have always guided my decision-making process while I've been on the council.

You know, we made a lot of progress in the last three years and we have -- we have dealt with some very difficult times.

But there's a lot more to do and that's really why I'm running for reelection.

I said often that a good quality of life begins with a good job and what we've done over the last three years is create thousands of jobs, and in the next few years we'll create thousands more.

We were named the best city in america for the next decade, by kiplinger's magazine, the best performing economy in the united states by forbes.

I'm very proud of our record.

We should all be proud of our city.

We kept our city affordable.

We have the lowest property tax rate of any of the five major cities in texas, lower than fort worth and lower than dallas and houston and san antonio.

And our utility rates are low.

Our energy costs are in the bottom 50% of all utilities across the state of texas and they will remain in the bottom 50%.

If you are low volume, low income water user, your water rat are lower right now than they were four years ago.

So I want to ask for your support in my campaign for reelection.

Refer you to my website,

For more information about my position on a number of issues.

>> Good evening, my name is bridgid shea, I'm running for mayor, I am a business woman and former member of the austin mayor pro tem, I'm married and a pta mom with two boys in aisd, I'm a proven leader with a record of getting things done.

My previous term on council I championed consumer, electoral and environmental issues and I am proud that i helped lead the effort to protect barton springs and produce a new political consensus that protecting our environment is great for our economy.

Lee says everything is great and getting better.

But austin's unique character and quality of life are threatened and the city is getting less affordable for people who live here.

Community action network released a report that was covered just last week that says 40% of austinites are struggling to make ends meet.

Living at twice the federal poverty level, which is $44,000 for a family of four.

I think lee's policy are making it worse, not better.

And that's why I'm running for mayor.

Under lee leffingwell the austin city council has been more concerned with making big development deals than with maintaining the quality of life and affordability for the people who live .

Like his push for a deal that provided $250 million in state subsidies for a formula one racetrack at a time when we were cutting school budgets.

Even senator kirk watson voted against that money and said it was the wrong priority.

Lee was willing to give 40 million in city subsidies until massive public opposition forced him to drop it.

But the city is still paying $13 million to extend water and sewer lines to serve the track at no cost to the developer.

This is the wrong priority for scarce public resources.

I've been endorsed by the major civic organizations across the city, including the austin neighborhoods council, the sierra club, clean water action, better austin today pac or bat pac, the black austin democrats, the north by northwest democrats and the league of biking voters.

I ask for your support and you can get more informs

>> Now, I'll start the questioning.

With clay dafoe.

With a transportation question that has two parts.

Are you in favor of a downtown urban rail system?

Why or why not?

And secondly, there seem to be a number of plans for downtown that would enhance the transportation in that area.

How would you address the needs for the rest of the city?

>> First of all, I'll say that I'm not in favor of urban rail.

I think that it's an awful whyed that will increase our spending and debt here at the city level, which will put a greater burden on our citizens.

If we look at the red line rail that we have today, we see that it's only recouping 3% of its operating costs in the fare recovery ratio.

We look at what our buses are doing.

I think we should use what we have already.

Use the resources that are existing and improve our bus service.

Provide more frequent routes, more night owl service.

I don't think spending a billion dollars on urban rail is wise or fiscally preopportunities.

I think what's included -- oweprudent.

I think it will basically force us to tear down parts of our city and rebuild in this bureaucratic image.

As far as the rest of the city, I believe we can improve our roads by providing line-item appropriations for different road improvements, widening of roads, also creating more bike lanes where fiscally prudent.

Many issues there but out of time here.

>> Mayor leffingwell?

>> Well, we're a huge city, both in terms of population, we're over 825,000 people now.

And we're a huge city in terms of land area.

We're about 308 square miles.

Kind of spread out.

So obviously we need different transportation solutions for different parts of town.

In some parts of town the denser, like downtown, i think, public transportation and I do support at some point in time, I do support urban rail and light rail.

I think that's got to be a part of our future at some point.

But there are parts of town where roads makes more sense.

So we've got to really look at our transportation solutions in a comprehensive way.

And say yes, we need more roads.

We need better public transportation.

We need more sidewalks and trails and yes, we need more bicycle facilities.

And I would just like to say very briefly that I'm a little bit outraged by the claims made by my opponent over here.

None of those are true.

They are massively inaccurate, distorted claims and frankly I think that it's a shame that they were even said.

>> And brigid shea.

>> I am in favor of rail.

I think that we have to have that as parts of our transportation solution in the future.

But I feel like there's been a profound failure of leadership on this subject.

We've been promised with each bond election that rail would be up next.

And there has not even been the basic education in the community for people to understand where the -- where the line would go.

What it would cost.

Who would operate it.

Really, fundamental questions that are necessary for the public to -- to understand before they could even possibly vote on it.

I hear that there may in fact be a rail proposal that would come out sometime later in may.

But I just feel like there's been a failure at a basic level to educate the public about the value of rail.

I also hate being on this top 10 list, most congested city of our size in the nation.

And I feel like it either hasn't been a priority or the city has failed terribly in trying to deal with congestion.

Just one of of the things that I would do is make it my business to work with the toll road authority to begin to shift the trucks and the traffic off of i-35 on to 130.

We were promised that and it hasn't happened.

>> Okay.

Our next question is regarding affordable housing.

We will start with you, ms. shea.

The question is what would you define as affordable housing in downtown austin?

How can austin become a city of mixed income levels without taxing citizens, especially seniors, out of their homes.

>> I know that 80% of the median family income is a standard that's been used.

But frankly what I hear from so many people who are affordable housing advocates is that's way too high.

I think one, just one of the things that we need to do is when we sell off city property like -- like the green water treatment plant for redevelopment, that we hold the developers to their commitment.

They won that bid by promising 25% affordable housing.

For a long time.

And they came back and tried to renegotiate it down to a smaller percentage for only seven years.

I was among many housing advocates who signed a letter to the council this is unacceptable.

If we are making city land available, we must hold people to their commitments to build affordable housing.

I do think that we have to have mixed use, but I will tell you one of the biggest things that's forcing people out of their homes is the continually increasing appraisal.

We just put out a report today appraisals in residential property have increased 110% in the last 10 years.

None of the other property categories have risen anything close to that.

>> Okay.

Next mr. dafoe.

>> I believe affordable housing means that families of -- of low income and whatever means, middle class families, are able to live in our city's core.

Unfortunately our city council policies are really preventing that from being a reality for so many folks.

It starts with the corporate welfare.

That goes on down here.

It starts with what's happened with formula one with apple, with us farathane, also that same attitude that's continued with developers.

Kind of scratch your back, you will scratch mine, mentality where we try to strike deals after the fact.

After we give them a tax rebate or some sort of subsidy, we say please provide a little bit of affordable housing for folks.

I think that's the wrong way to go about it.

I won't strike deals with developers.

My opponent, lee leffingwell, is obviously supported by them as witnessed by the hi percentage he got in the straw poll at the -- at the reca conference that we had last month.

I will oppose these development deals, I don't think we need more spending, more debt, more bonds for public housing, but we need to stop corporate welfare, that's how we get our city to be more affordable for folks.

>> Time.

>> Mr. leffingwell?

>> A couple of things.

First I agree with my opponent that -- that the green development should be held to the previous commitments and the council.

I believe will have every intention of doing so.

That has not been finalized.

It will come back to the council on may 24th for further discussion.

But I want to point out that the -- that in 2006, for the first time in the history of our city, when I was on the council, we approved a bond money for affordable housing.

$55 Million.

And we've actually spent most of that $55 million up to this point and this november, I'm very confident that we'll have more bond money for affordable housing on the ballot for voters.

I also want to -- to point out that we developed a policy a couple of years ago that all city property that is sold for private interest, 40% of the increased tax revenue on that property after development occurs is dedicated to the housing trust fund.

That's a stream of money that comes every year that will be dedicated to affordable housing.

>> I would like to start this question with lee leffingwell.

What policies would you put in place to promote local austin businesses?

>> Well, actually, I've been very active over the last three years in proposing local austin businesses.

For one thing, I've developed a small business to the quarter program where I go up, we select a small business and go out and present them with a plaque, ge a little m attention for them.

In addition to that, that's fun, but in addition to that, over a year ago i convened a group of small business owners, we met over in the parmer center, talked about ways that we could help them start a new business, help them grow their existing small business.

That -- we've made a lot of progress on that.

We know how important that is to our economy.

They are a key part, probably the major part of our economy.

In fact, about 80% of the companies, the businesses in austin have fewer than 10 employees.

About 75% of the employees in austin work for companies that have fewer than 100 employees.

Arguably a small business.

We will continue to nourish small business, it's the heart of our economy.

We can't afford to do anything else.

>> Bridgid shea.

>> One of the things that i would do is -- work to have the city permitting processes and other city serves work me efficiently.

I've heard untold stories from people who have tried to get renovations for buildings permitted through the city of austin where it's taken months and months and months to just get basic permits approved.

I -- I would also make sure that our building system works properly.

I've heard again many stories from small businesses who are getting bizarre electric and water utility bills from the city that are wildly high or out of line with what their traditional energy and water use have been.

And when they call the city to get it fixed, they are told "oh, just don't pay that, we'll catch up later when we get this "

and businesses can't afford to take a big hit because they haven't been getting proper utility bills.

>> We also need a subsidy for -- [indiscernible]>> clay dafoe.

>> I think it starts with ending corporate welfare as I referenced earlier.

There's been a huge focus of major corporations at this council.

I think that's wrong.

I think of all corporate subsidies, that's how we provide an equal leffingwell -- equal level playing field, protect our small businesses here in austin.

I think there's a web of regulation that really hurts our small businesses.

shea mentioned it starts with the permitting process.

We have to streamline that.

I think that we should have a way to have small businesses leap frog over major development.

In addition we have the taxi cartel in this city sponsored by an arbitrary, amount, a number, so-called formula that the council put forth and now the same thing for peddy cabs.

I think this limits our potential growth in these creative industries really springing up in austin.

Instead I think we need to get out of the business of regulating and having a set amount of transportation permits and let these companies grow on their own.

Let the market forces decide how many of their numbers should be out on the road.

>> Okay.

Our next question is regarding utility rates.

We will start with clay dafoe.

Austin energy's substantial rate increase is spatially due to the lack of -- is partially due to the lack of gradual increases over the past and instead of using their reserves, the reserve funds to avoid utility rate increases.

How would you manage to avoid a similar problem from happening over the next 10 to 20 years?

>> Well, I would avoid that by -- from happening by looking first at our general fund transfers the city council is moving forward with what they would have you all believe is an inevitable rate increase.

But if you look at these fund transfers, we are siphoning off 9% or 105 million-dollar this year alone from our energy company and using it for items in the city's general fund that are completely not related to energy production or delivery.

I think if we cap the spending on that, we will do a much better job of making sure our citizens aren't footing the bills for our city council's spending problems.

That's a major way of looking at it.

In addition, I would also look at accelerated green projects.

While we do need more renewable energy in our public utility's portfolio, I don't believe we need to be giving $750 million over 25 years to a foreign company, [indiscernible] renewables for wind turbines on the texas coast that our company is obviously not able to sustain at this time because of the rate increases.

I want to make this clear.

I oppose all rate increases and will never vote for one as a member of the city council.

>> Thank you.

Lee leffingwell?

>> Will with, first a general comment -- well, first a general comment, there's always room for improvement, of course, but I do want to point out just a couple of months ago the city was rated number one in resident satisfaction by the etc institute.

Number 1 of the 50 major cities in the united states.

With regard to electric rates, sure, we need to address that periodically, automatically, I would say at least every five years we need to address the rate issue.

That doesn't necessarily mean that rates have to be raised but at least we should have to raise the issue and analyze it.

Again, I want to point out that austin energy has done very well.

We're in the bottom 50% of the rate structure across the state.

After this rate case is over with, we will still be in the bottom 50%.

That's our pledge to the people of austin, that's our responsibility to the city of austin.

And we will carry that duty out and manage that utility well so that we continue to operate it and not have it taken over by some other energy company.

I think that's very important.

>> Bridgid shea.

>> I think there's been a profound failure of leadership here.

It's been 17 years since there's been a rate increase.

And you can't possibly make up of 17 years of inaction with one giant increase.

I also think this mayor and council failed to direct staff to bring back a fair and affordable rate case.

The last rate case was when I was on the council 17 years ago and we directed staff to do that, we made sure that it would happen because we hired an independent consumer rate advocate.

They failed to do that and only just brought one on at the last minute.

It's unfair to ask residents to -- to have a 20% average rate increa and houses of worship an 80% with virtually no increase on the large industrial users.

Also the billing system, they paid $60 million for a billing system that can't even do what the previous billing system did.

Many, many businesses are getting wildly inaccurate bills.

I have heard stories of many businesses that are simply not paying their bills.

That's got to be contributing to the bottom line at the utility.

We've got to manage this better.

>> Starting with bridgid shea, which of the several proposed district plans for electing city council do you favor?

How would you go about implementing the one that you favor?

And do you favor an independent citizens redistricting commission?

>> I am in favor of the 10-1 plan.

I spent a lot of time talking people and evaluating these.

I have yet to hear an alternative for it that i think has been well thought out or has much organization behind it.

The 10-1 plan has had tremendous organization and from my perspective that's been a key reason why the six previous votes on redistricting have failed because there hasn't been any clear, organizing campaign behind supporting it.

They have that in place.

They also have a very well thought out independent citizens redistricting board as part of it.

They have worked with attorneys who are specialists in redistricting and have taken the language from the california independent body and tailerred it for austin, i think that they have done a lot of good homework.

At the same time what I have told the 10-1 folks, if a leader, another proposal emerges, there is broad support for it.

I would bring the two sides together and say we can do the solomon's choice and cut the baby and it dies, if both go on the ballot my belief is they will both fail or we can work on something that everyone can live with.

>> Clay dafoe.

>> I'm a supporter of the 10-1 single member district plan.

I think using our constituencies into smaller numbers is an important task we should consider and put to the voters this november to see if that's something that they want.

Reducing that amount from over 800,000, what we have currently with an at-large system to about 80,000, we will provide more responsive representation and you as a neighbor will have a councilmember to go to with small problems and they won't be lagging behind all of this big city issues which really prevent us from addressing many of our neighbor's concerns here in austin.

I think a citizens redistricting commission is a major part of it as well.

To make sure that district lines are not gerrymandered and they respect our long-term neighborhood boundaries.

We have seen what a mess it's been on the state and on the congressional level in our federal government.

We can't repeat that here and the citizens redistricting commission will certainly alleviate that problem.

As far as moving elections to november, I would be in favor of that.

If that's something that people want.

But we should never have elected representatives voting to extend their own terms and -- in that concern.

>> Lee leffingwell.

>> Yeah, I actually led the effort.

I raised the issue in the first place.

I've been in favor of geographic representation ever since I first ran for council back in 2005.

And I put the issue on the table over a year ago with the resolution from council that was unanimously approved to begin this process to work towards a charter change that would provide geographic representation.

We appointed a task force, that task force did their work, they did a lot of hard work.

Studied the issues in-depth and they made their recommendation.

On an 8-7 vote.

It was a split vote.

But our process is not finished.

There's a lot more to be we plan to hold a town hall meeting in late may or early june to get some more input on this issue.

And the council will ultimately make the decision as to what form that geographic representation takes some time this summer.

In time for the november vote.

I have -- I'm not going to announce a position right now because my main priority is to determine which -- which system has the most chance of passing.

>> Time.

>> That's what's important.

>> Thank you.

This next question is regarding the environment.

And it's a three-part question and it will go to lee leffingwell first.

Considering the projected growth rate of austin, which is expected to double in the next 30 years, what do you think is the best solution for our projected water needs, especially considering future droughts?

Then are you in favor of increasing the fees for heavy users of water and electricity?

And finally, the city has depended on the transfer of funds from austin energy to the city budget.

Do you think it should continue?

Why or why not?

>> Well, first of all, we already have and have had for several years a steeply progressive rate system which does charge more for higher users of water.

But just to put this whole issue in its perspective, we have firm water contracts with the lcra for up to 325,000-acre feet of water per year from the colorado basin.

We currently use about half of that.

About 170,000-acre feet per year.

Our contracts are superior to just about every other contract.

For example the agricultural users downstream of us use 5 times as much water as the city of austin does.

The lcra has curtailed that for the time being until lake levels are restored to proper levels.

But we are well fixed, we are as well fixed as any city in the state of texas, as far as water supply goes, we are well fixed for our future plans for delivering that water to the people of austin.

I'm very confident about our water future.

>> Thank you.

Bridgid shea.

>> I'm extremely concerned about our water future.

Anybody who has been out to lake travis over the summer and seen the water levels knows that this is not a guarantee of future water supply.

Lcra doesn't manufacture water.

Even if we have firm rights.

If there isn't water available, the lcra complaint work magic.

I'm in favor of much more aggressive water conservation and water reuse and being much more active in fixing our leaking water pipes.

We have over a thousand miles of water pipes that we know are now broken and leaking.

We have got to get busy and fix more of that than we are now.

And if you saw the paper last week, there was a story about how much water is lost to evaporation in lake travis.

And with all of the climate scientists saying we're in for much hotter, much drier times, the -- the amount of water lost to evaporation is more than what the municipalities used and that's what's already happened.

That's not projecting the future.

That's what they've measured is already happening.

So we have a very serious water situation in our future, we've got to get serious about it.

>> Thank you.

Clay dafoe.

>> I think the water issue is definitely one of the biggest ones that's facing our communities in the coming years.

I want some repeal regulations that actually make it more difficult for our citizens to conserve like the recent gray water permitting process, that basically makes people that have gray water systems go to the city, have to pay a fee and get approval to be able to use whatever conservation method they think is best for themselves.

And in addition, I don't understand why -- why we're building this -- this half a billion dollar water treatment plant for.

When our stated goal is to conserve more.

Why are we trying to sell more water under these circumstances?

I'll oppose the construction and try to stop it.

It's putting our water utility into great debt, i think we have something like 52% of the water utility are now paying that debt.

We have to stop the spending.

It makes no sense, not helping conservation at all.

In addition, I think that we've got a progressive rate structure here.

I don't think we necessarily need fees for heavier users, but this is a structure we can maintain.

I totally oppose using utility funds to the city's general fund as I described earlier.

I think it's a real abuse of the public money, it puts our utility companies in danger of not being able to remain fiscally solvent in the future.

There's much that can be done with conservation.

It starts on the level of individual initiative, though, not govern force.

>> Starting with clay dafoe, according to residents of east austin, that includes northeast, central east and southeast, their side of town has been neglected in almost every aspect of city government for years.

Despite their attempts at advocacy for things like infrastructure, transportation, affordable housing and many other needs.

How do you propose to include these citizens in the planning and implementation of needed improvements?

>> Well, I would certainly be willing to defer to them on many of these topics and give them a platform for addressing our city council.

I would like to see some of our council meetings actually be held offsite in different areas of our community.

One of those being east austin.

There's serious infrastructure problems like not having street lights and storm drains that need to be addressed but we're not able to do it because we're too focused on giving away city funds and taxes to major corporations like apple and u.s. faathane.

I think we have to change our agenda at city hall and really focus on the community.

I think moving to single member districts and geographic representation will help that as well.

There will be a representative once that's adopted to represent people of east austin, help them get these items through that needs to be addressed.

There's many issues here.

I will be willing to provide better infrastructure to all of our communities, including east austin, but it starts with ending the corporate welfare, that's really limiting our ability to do so.

>> Lee leffingwell?

>> First, I want to go back to the water issue and point out that austin has one of the most aggressive water conservation programs in the country.

I chaired the task force that established that program in 2007.

And its success was recognized by the austin -- excuse me, american water works association that named me conservationist of the year in that year for that program.

It has an aggressive program for leak repair, reclaimed water and conservation, we were the first in our region to adopt twice a week limitations on irrigation, back before water conservation was cool.

But with regard to the issue, you asked the question about, I think we absolutely have to include all austinites in our considerations and that means including it in our government.

I live further north and further west than any councilmember and I live by camp mabry.

There are no councilmembers south of the river.

We have to have representation across the city so that we can adequately represent all of our people.

>> Bridgid shea.

>> I will just say briefly on water conservation, austin has a goal of 140 gallons per capita per day.

San antonio is below 132.

We can do much better.

With regard to east austin, I've proposed if I'm elected mayor, to convene a listening session in east austin and really bring city resources to the community and really listen to people about what it is they want and need.

I do think that single-member districts will be very helpful in providing better representation for east austin, northeast, central east, southeast, they don't have representatives on the council currently.

I do think that councilmember districts will be very helpful in that regard and I think that in general we have to be mindful about how we're spending city resources, when the mayor did a 3 million fee waiver to the marriott hotel, it was the same year that the city announced we don't have enough money for community pools and we had to close some, we didn't have enough money for city libraries, cut back hours, canceled the trail of lights because we didn't have enough money.

>> This is our last question of the evening and it's regarding police accountability.

And it will be directed to bridgid shea first.

Young people of color, other citizens and now dogs have been killed by the police.

Some in the community are more outraged by the killing of dogs than human beings.

What policies will you initiate to address this problem to protect the citizens of this community from racial profiling and expressive use of force by the police?

>> I have been struck by the contrast in the response to the killing of the dog.

It's a horrible thing, but i was really struck by it as well.

I'm the only person in the race who has reached out to the community and been talking with them about ideas for how to deal with what I believe is a race relations problem between and the minority communities.

Not to say they are racist, but there is a problem in the relationship.

There's a particularly effective civil rights advocate in los angeles who made a lot of progress working with the lapd and helped improve their relationships with their minority communities.

I have talked with nelson linder about bringing that person here to austin.

He also suggested working with the police chief in , who has had a lot of success in improving relations, but i think we'll never really get to the bottom of this problem if we deny it or we pretend it doesn't exist.

I think that's leaders we have to be willing to say there is a problem and we as a community have to come together to begin to address it.

>> Clay dafoe.

>> I think police brutality and the use of deadly force is a big problem.

We have to recognize and deal with.

And we need a leader who is going to provide specific, concrete policies that will actually change how our department uses deadly force.

First advocate for a preservation of life standard.

So that our officers make sure that they -- that they exercise all non-lethal means when dealing with suspects in any investigation.

Before they even think about pulling a gun.

This is important.

If we're going to have officers that respect life, have it as their number one priority and maintain our constitutional rights here at citizens.

-- As citizens.

Also we can exercise article 2, section 6 under the city charter, which actually gives officer of the city council the power to inquire into the behavior or conduct of any officer in any department.

I will use this whenever our citizens constitutional rights are possibly violated.

In addition we should give the police monitor more teeth.

Give them subpoena power to actually call witnesses in these cases so we make sure that we are using the police monitor effectively.

There's many issues but we've got to address these if we're going to have a change in policy.

>> Thank you, lee leffingwell.

>> First of all, we have one of the best police organizations in the country.

We have one of the safest cities in the country, we are very proud of our record.

Our police officers have the longest training period -- as long of a training period as any police organization in the state of texas, about twice as long as the state requires that to be.

Our officers do not use deadly force unless their life or the life of someone else is threatened.

We have -- we have not had too many of these incidents in the recent future, recent past, but we have had two actually in one night recently.

Those incidents will be thoroughly investigated.

A -- a proper adjudication of that using the police monitor, the police oversight board, the process in the chief's office and the justice system, will look through that entire process and make sure that it's adequately carried out.

>> Thank you.

This concl questions.

>> [Indiscernible] wrapup.

>> The league of women voters would like to thank all the candidates who have chosen to participate in this forum and he would like to thank our sponsor as well.

We would like for the candidates for place 2 to come forward and your -- you are willing to --

>> we are going to make closing statements.

>> We are going to allow you to make your closing statements, then we would ask that you exit the podium.

Thank you.

We will start with ms. shea.

>> Thank you.

I am running for mayor because I believe we need a change in direction at city hall.

My first priority would be to end policies that are tilted towards special interests and start serving the interests of everyday austinites.

I'm the only candidate who has proposed major ethics reforms to severely limit the amount of money that lobbyists can contribute or bundle to campaigns.

leffingwell has refused to agree with these reforms, but it will be the first ordinance that I will propose when I'm mayor.

It's also time to get serious about affordability.

Austin uses less water than 10 years but our water rates have doubled and are set to rise again.

They want to raise electric rates 20% even though homeowners already share an unfair burden.

Property taxes raise 5%, city fees have risen but for many people the quality of life has gone down.

Unwise choices are making austin less affordable for citizens and I believe it's time for a change for city hall.

That's why I've been endorsed by the austin neighborhood council, sierra .. I ask for your support, thank you.

>> Thank you, lee leffingwell?

>> It is indisputable that austin has been a well run city over the last few years in a very difficult time, in a very difficult economy.

We have balanced our budget every single year, have not laid off any employees and we have maintained our triple a bond rating.

We should be proud of our city.

Certainly there's room for progress, we have done well and we're the envy of every other city in the country.

In this campaign I have been endorsed by over 22 organization, including the central labor council, network of asian american organizations, all of the union organizations and all but two of the democratic clubs.

I have 12 democratic club endorsements.

I have been endorsed by every mayor except one, but will wynn and by gus garcia, kirk watson, bruce todd and lee cooke and frank cooksey and former mayor pro tem danny thomas and betty dunkerly.

I have been endorsed by representatives donna dukes and eddie rodriguez and donna howard and mark strama.

I would like to ask for your endorsement and your support in this election, vote for ME ON MAY 12th.

>> Thank you, clay dafoe?

>> This is possibly one of the most important elections in our city's history.

We are at a crossroads in choosing what kind of government we want.

One that exclusively serves the special interests or one that inclusively centers around the needs of all of our citizens, the establishment supports incumbent mayor lee leffingwell, but I believe the establish way of doing things is no longer working.

Our citizens recognize that.

I will end corporate incentive packages, stop the utility rate increases, protect our citizens rights at city hall.

I will also work hard to try to remove the body scanners at abia which are shredding our citizens constitutional rights.

Also need to look at our police department's use of force and our tasers, which puts electro torture in the hands of our officers where they shouldn't be.

I may not have the experience like my opponents but I do have the common knowledge to -- if you want a real change in leadership at city hall, please vote clay dafoe for mayor.


>> Thank you, candidates, very much.

[One moment please for change in captioners]

>> and there they are.

>> Are you ready?

>> Yes.

>> Yes, ma'am.

>> Welcome.

We'd like for you to start by making opening statements, and we'll start with mike martinez.

>> Thank you so much.

Let me start by introducing myself.

I'm mike martinez.

I am city councilmember for the last six years and running for a third term on the city councilmember.

I want to apologize, I'm under the weather today.

I've come down with some kind of either allergies or cold or something, but I may sound a little nasally.

But we will get through this.

I appreciate you all giving us a time this evening to share our viewpoints, to share our message, and i certainly appreciate you taking time to be here this evening.

As you may know, I'm a former austin firefighter for 13 years.

I served as the president of the austin firefighters association.

I've been a community leader and activist the entire 20 years that I've been in the fire department and on the city council.

And I currently live in east austin.

I've lived in four different residences in east austin.

I have a son that's 13 years old that's going to start high school in september, and my wife and I are expecting another son this SEPTEMBER 3rd.

It has been an honor and a privilege to be a councilmember here in austin and I look forward to the candidate forum tonight.

Thank you.

laura pressley and I am incredibly date grateful to be here tonight and grateful for living in this wonderful city and to be here and have this opportunity to speak to everybody.

I've been in austin 23 years, and I came here from houston.

I came to graduate school at u.t. in chemistry.

I FINISH MID Ph.D IN Chemistry as a single mother about, gosh, 27 years ago.

And I worked in submit conductor industry for 17 years.

I GOT MY Ph.D IN CHEMISTRY Worked at motorola, advanced microdevices and freescale semiconductor.

I was an engineer and worked my way through that industry.

My last job before I started my small business was the gross margin manager for the networking business, a one billion dollar business.

Interestingly city of austin is a three billion dollar -- has a three billion dollar budget.

And it really takes somebody with a business background to manage that and manage the expenses and the spending, and I can do that.

I also spent a lot of time on the board of directors of safe place, a battered women's shelter.

I myself am a survivor of she is stick violence and i was on their board for five years and on the board of women's advocacy project in austin.

So I'm here as a business leader, small business owner and a survivor and a volunteer.

And I -- and a technologies.

I think I can bring those skill sets to austin.

Right now the city council does not have that background.

Anybody with that expertise, technology and business.

And I can provide that.

Thank you.

>> Thank you.

We'll start the questioning with mike martinez.

And the first question is two parts about transportation.

are you in favor of a downtown you are ran rail system?

Why or why not?

And there seems to be a number of plans for downtown that would enhance the transportation in that area, how do you meet the needs of the rest of the city?

>> The short answer I'm in favor of an urban transportation system whether it's fixed rail, urban rail, showed sharing, bicycling or sidewalks.

It is not one answer to our transportation problems, but working on all of those issues at once.

As you may know I chair capital metro and over the last two years I've taken over as chairman of the new board as an agency on the board of bankrupt stay had just come through a scathing review of the state of texas sunset commission.

They gave us about 20 steps to take in a short period of time.

And I'm proud to say that we've implemented every one of those changes, put the agency back on track, increased ridership while reducing cost and tightening our budget and those are the points of leadership that i bring to the city council as well as to the issue of transportation here in austin.

I think ultimately it's up to voters in the end.

If we're going to build urban rail it will be passed by the voters of austin.

I am absolutely in favor of letting the citizens decide what are their priorities for transportation projects.

>> Laura pressley.

>> Yes.

I do not support the urban rail project.

I think the citizens have already spoken by looking at how many people ride our rail system right now where it's -- you look at it even during rush hour, the people aren't using it.

And it's a huge expense.

So I do not support that.

I do support a rapid bus transit.

And you made a good point.

You know, downtown has a lot of solutions, but north and south austin do not.

I worked at freescale semiconductor and I lived in north austin, so I had to deal with the y in oak hill, I deal with mopac in the mornings and I would go off hours to manage it.

I think the real solution for our traffic is if you look at i-35 you have 40% large trucks, commercial trucks on the roadway at lunch hour and at rush hour.

We need to move those trucks on to 130.

That was a promise that was made to us when that 130 was built, and we need to do that.

That would relieve traffic on i-35, which would be a domino effect to mopac.

To me that is the most important and prioritized thing that we have to do is make that work.

There -- we've tried to do it.

We need to keep at it and don't give up on that.

>> Thank you.

This next question is regarding affordable housing.

And we will start with laura pressley.

What would you define as affordable housing in downtown austin?

How can austin become a city of mixed income levels without taxing citizens, especially seniors, out of their homes?

>> That's a very important question.

And one that I don't think the city council has addressed very well.

Downtown affordability is really dependent on a lot of things.

Our property taxes is one.

We've proposed a homestead exemption, city homestead exemption that has been asked by the community for years and years.

Multiple council elections they have asked, please give us a city homestead exemption to help with taxes.

We have proposed that.

We support it and we will drive it as a city councilmember.

Also, affordability is not just your property taxes.

It is also your energy and water rates.

I think the large departments need to be cutting expenses instead of raising our rates.

And we've got rate increases with austin energy on deck right now that I do not -- i completely oppose, and our water rates also have gone up.

This council has not addressed it and I think the answer is to pull back and look at costs and cut costs.

>> Thank you.

Mike martinez.

>> Yes.

We actually have worked on affordability and affordable housing in downtown, and all over austin.

If you'll recall from 2006, the citizens supported a 55-million-dollar bond referendum for specific affordable housing projects.

We've established goals for permanent supportive housing units, which are at 30% of the median family income and below.

But as it relates to downtown we need all levels of affordability.

Some folks' success point is 80% of mfi.

Some is 50, some is 30.

We continue to work on those projects as they come about individually, as you will see tomorrow at the council meeting with the green water treatment plant, the reason I made a motion to postpone that item two weeks ago to tomorrow was because of the affordable housing component that must be adhered to whenever we are a part of downtown projects.

We are also supporting community foundations.

I am supporting them on their 11th street project right next to the capitol downtown.

These are projects that our service industry employees can take advantage of.

They will be able to live, work, raise their families in downtown if they choose to do so.

And we should be providing that option.

>> Mike martinez.

>> Yes, ma'am.

>> What policies would you put in place to promote local austin businesses?

>> Well, I think we have a tremendous small business development program already in place.

I think one of the things that's lacking is the outreach component and letting citizens know that it is 100% free and available to them each and everyday.

Up to and including developing a business plan, reaching out to financing, getting financing to start up your company and then having long-term ongoing education components that help you maintain your business moving forward.

We invest heavily in our small businesses.

They are the backbone of our economy here in austin.

Most folks work for a small business and not for larger corporations.

I will continue to advocate for our small businesses.

We have recently been approached by the independent business alliance, the austin independent business alliance, and asking the council to contemplate incentive agreements for small businesses as well as we do major corporations.

I am more than happy to entertain that public discussions, bring it before the council and see if there is a program that we could adopt that could also attach incentives to small businesses.

>> Laura pressley.

>> I love this question.

I have done something absolutely directly with regard to this.

I have spoken out to the city council multiple times on -- that they should buy local with our tax dollars and why are we not spending more of the millions of dollars that go outside of austin when there are companies in austin that could get those contracts.

So we brought this up in december and what was interesting was the procurement department said oh, actually, the legislature passed a ruling that you could give three to five percent credit for local companies when you're doing the bid process.

So we continued to push this and push this and finally in march -- we first brought this up in december.

Finally in march that was implemented.

It had been on the books, the texas legislature had put this on last session in the summer, and we finally got that implemented march 1.

I think if we can spend our dollars locally within the legal system and this bidding process within the range of high /bid/( ed)bys, if we spend our dollars locally, they stay here and we have a huge benefit.

This is how austin can keep jobs and create jobs and spend our money locally.

>> The next question is regarding utility rates, and we'll start with laura pressley.

Austin energy's substantial rate increase is partially due to the lack of gradual increases over the past and instead using the reserve funds to avoid utility rate increases.

How would you manage to avoid a similar problem from happening over the next 10 to 20 years?

>> This is a great question and this is one that I've testified to the city council on multiple times.

I spent a lot of effort looking at the rate increase, and the bottom line is austin energy has not put the effort into cutting costs year on year and becoming more efficient, very similar to the private sector.

I'm from the private sector and this is what we do year on year.

I actually met with larry weiss, the ceo of austin energy, and asked him, we were down here doing the rate increase commentary as citizens.

And I asked larry, why are you not doing cost reductions and lean business practices to reduce costs before you raise our rates?

His feedback and his direct word to me were I don't have the bandwidth to cut costs.

He doesn't have the bandwidth, doesn't have the time.

As a city councilmember that is a policy that I would drive.

Austin energy and the water utility would have to do a five percent year on year reduction, come to us with what those options are, and -- we would set that expectation, and that's not being done right now.

I think going forward for the next 10 to 20 years if that expectation can be set we're in good shape.

>> Thank you.

Mike martinez?

>> Unfortunately our electric utility is not a private business, it's a government service.

And so if you're going on to sit here and make blanket proposals and demand cuts of five and 10 percent each year coming forward, you need to be prepared to face the citizens and tell them which services they will lose.

We don't create profit margins at austin energy, we provide a service.

My stand has been to not accept what staff has recommended to us, but do drill down into their assumptions and ensure whatever rate increase we propose is absolutely necessary to create revenue stability, but moving forward that we put a policy in place that no longer puts a council in the position that we're in right now and that's 17 years of inaction being imposed on a council and our citizens in one fell swoop.

I believe that that's irresponsible, I believe we have an opportunity to change that moving forward, and that is why I proposed a modest three and a half percent increase so that we could move through these difficult conversations and establish these long stated policies that need to be in place and have never been from the beginning.

>> Mike martinez, which of the several proposed district plans for electing city council do you favor?

How would you go about implementing the one you favor, and do you favor an independent citizens redistricting commission?

>> Yes.

I supported single-member district long before joining the city council or even contemplating running for council.

In my first term we were unable to get enough council support to get it on on the ballot.

It failed by a vote of four to three.

In my second term the mayor and I supported the resolution that created the taskforce that now has the recommendation before us.

I support the 10-1 recommendation of the taskforce.

I support the independent redistricting commission as recommended by the taskforce.

And single-member districts is something that austin has sorely needed for a long time.

I believe that it creates a better form of representation.

I believe that it gives each and every austinite a true voice by having a representative from their area of the community, and i think it's long past time that we moved away from our at-large system of government and create geographic representation so that folks from all parts of austin, one, have the opportunity to run for council, and two, actually get to the council dais and can serve the citizen in the areas that they live.

>> Laura pressley?

>> Yes.

I'd like to go back to the austin energy question real quick.

Austin energy is a profit entity.

Those profit margins go into the general fund.

So it is a for-post entity.

We just use the entity, one-million-dollar transfer into the general fund.

And you can cut costs.

This is the largest difference between myself and my opponent.

I want to cut costs any way, anyplace we can, instead of raising rates.

And I would set that expectation before I would even allow a discussion with regard to rate increases.

With regard to geographical representation, I completely support the 10-1, I've support it had for a long time.

I've testified before the charter revision committee and I believe in the citizens districting commission and I think that's the best way to get real representation so that you know you can go to someone in your neighborhood and say do you know what?

I need this street fixed or I need this storm drain corrected, and that's the best way to do it.

>> Thank you.

This question is regarding environment, and we'll start with laura pressley.

It's a three-part question.

Considering the projected growth rate of austin expected to double in the next 30 years, what do you think is the best solution for our projected water needs, especially considering future droughts?

And are you in favor of increasing fees for heavy users of water and electricity?

And the city has depended on the future -- I'm sorry.

The city has depended on the transfer of funds from austin energy to the city budget.

Do you think this should continue?

Why or why not?

>> Okay.

Thank you.

I think there are a lot of solutions to our water issues.

That's our number one issue right now from a resource standpoint.

The development that austin is going through is phenomenal and we are going to run out of water.

Even the comprehensive plan has said that we have to plan ahead.

There are a lot of options and I'll just list off several of these.

Gray water infrastructure, wastewater reuse, rainwater collection.

We have -- in areas that are not recharge zones, I think the city could really support and help people with rainwater collection because your irrigation systems, watering your lawn is the biggest use of your water.

I think those are some excellent.

And conservation is huge.

With regard to fees, I think yes, we should have fees that are progressive.

I forgot the third one.

>> The city has depended on the transfer of funds from austin energy to the city budget.

Do you think this should continue?

Why or why not?

>> I do think it should continue.

I just think we ought to cut costs to make sure we are efficient as affordable going forward.

>> Mike martinez?

>> I sponsored a resolution with councilmember riley directing city staff to help us come up with comprehensive gray water use program.

I believe the future is absolutely about conservation and reuse.

That's the only way that we're going to achieve the goals that we've set for water conservation, but it's also the only way that we'll protect the existing water supply that we currently now have through the lcra.

As it relates to the transfer to austin energy, that is the benefit of owning the utility is that we are able to pay for other city services.

Not generate profits and put them in a bank account.

We pay for libraries, parks, police.

I believe we should that, but I absolutely believe we should put a policy in place that caps it and actually weans it down to a level that's more acceptable.

Over the last six years it's increased by about $40 million.

I think that's an excess.

It can be cut down.

And again, I just -- I feel like that on water conservation there are technologies that are available to us today.

While we have some of the most stringent water conservation measures put in place, watering twice a week or once a week, there's water technology that can help improve that as well.

>> Mike martinez, according to residents of east austin, and that includes northeast, east central and southeast, their side of town has been neglected in almost every aspect of city government for years, despite their attempts at advocacy for things like infrastructure, transportation, affordable housing and many other needs.

How do you propose to include these citizens in the planning and implementation of needed improvements?

>> I think the best effort that we could make in improving their representation is by going to single-member districts and ensuring that someone from those areas of the community is elected.

But I've been proud to serve as an east austin austinite for the last six years and I've actually challenged all of the expenditures that we make as it relates to bond infrastructure, affordable housing, ensuring that east austin is not left behind.

There is so much more work we can do.

We're facing decades of neglect.

We're challenged by the history.

Not necessarily about what exists on the ground today.

East austin is an ever growing community, an ever changing, diverse community, but I believe there are measures that we can put in place to cap profit taxes, like the homestead preservation district, to improve affordability and to make sure that their values and priorities stay at the forefront.

And I remain committed to doing that and I look forward to doing that in my next term in office.

>> Laura pressley.

>> So with regard to east austin, I think there are a lot of issues.

On this campaign I'm grateful to run for city councilmember n this campaign we've talked to a lot of groups in austin, east austin primarily being one.

I have comments like I think we have enough art downtown.

Can we get sidewalks in east austin?

So that's the mentality.

They have been left behind.

My opponent was in charge of the holly good neighbor program and there's been a lot of criticism over the funds a million dollars a year was allocated for east austin and it has been squandered year after year after year.

There have been articles in the statesman about this, complaints that it goes to festivals instead of little leagues and housing programs it was intended for.

I've been endorsed by three east austins associations, el concilio, mexican-american democrats and the greater east austin neighborhood association and I'm here to represent them.

Third quarter our last question and this is -- this is our last question and it's regarding police accountability.

We'll start with laura pressley.

Young people of color, other citizens and now dogs, have been killed by the police.

Some in community are more outraged by the killing of dogs than human beings.

What policies will you initiate to address this problem to protect the citizens of the community from racial profiling and excessive use of force by the police?

>> It breaks my heart when i hear of a doggetting shot or a human getting shot, especially when they're unarmed.

And there are a lot of issues in austin with regard to this.

We have a wonderful police department.

We have really good police, peace officers.

I do think we have a couple of issues.

And the first way to deal with this is just bring it on and let's discuss it as a community.

I think that we have a white elephant in the room where we don't want to talk about it.

I've seen the council be very silent about these issues.

And myself, I will be out there with a voice and bringing these issues to the table.

From a policy standpoint, i do think a preservation of life standard and a use of deadly force standard is important.

We have this in alt of our large cities in texas and we could benchmark them and work together as a team and implement this and make it work here.

>> Thank you.

Mike martinez?

>> Thanks.

I want to go back to the previous question briefly.

When you use terms like squandered a million dollars a year it's a pretty bold accusation and many folks in the community have benefitted from the program.

The folks she said are benefitting her have said they would want the money to disburse as they see fit.

That would be irresponsible and I stand my the local good neighbor program.

As it relates to the police department what we need to be doing is making institutional change in the police department.

I've proposed to stop spending millions of dollars to stop recruiting police officers from all over the country to come here and work for our police force.

We need to start in our high schools, recruit folks who have been born and raised here and grown up in the community to become public safety officials.

It's a very different mindset when you protect and serve the community that you have grown in.

That's not to say if you weren't born here or didn't live here previously or don't live here now you can't protect and serve, but I believe institutional change starts with a young child becoming a police officer.

>> Now for closing statements, we'll start with mike martinez.

>> Thank you.

I want to thank the league of women voters and the city's ethics commission for hosting this forum again tonight.

I really appreciate you being here.

It's an honor to be a councilmember.

I've been endorsed by every single democratic club, by multiple unions as a former labor leader, all public safety associations.

We have grassroots support from all over this community.

We look forward to getting back in office and continuing the work that we committed to and the work that we've done over the last six years.

Early voting starts on april 30th.

It runs through may 8th.

Election day is may 12th.

As you all know, historically voter turnout has been very low, seven percent last year.

I supported moving our electrics to november to achieve the highest possible voter turnout.

More participation is about more democracy, is about a better outcome.

I remain strong in that position.

We should move our electrics to november.

But this year it's in may and I don't want you to forgetting to vote on may the 12th.

Thank you.

>> Thank you.

Laura pressley.

>> Thank you again for having us up here and for all the work that the league of women voters does in travis county.

Thank you.

There is a big difference between myself and the opponent.

We -- I do not support the subsidies that are going to apple, to f1, to the marriott hotel.

I think if you look at the results of these policies that we've had over the last six years, we are in trouble.

Our austin energy rates are going up.

Austin energy is broke.

They're bleeding two million dollars a week and they're not cost cutting.

Our water rates are going up.

Our tax rates have been proposed to go up.

Our libraries are being closed early and our trail of lights we still don't have it.

So there are a lot of affordability issues.

This election is critical.

And if you want a change in the policies that are going on in our city hall, this is the time to vote.

I need your support.

I'm laura pressley for place 2.

Thank you.

>> Thank you.

[ Applause ] ready for our next candidates.

We're transitioning to candidates for place 5.

>> You look like the cat that got the canary there.


>> we'd like to start with giving you an opportunity to make an opening statement.

And we'll just go in the order in which you are seated, if you will please just state your name before you begin.

Thank you.

>> We have one minute?

My name is --

>> two minutes.

>> Ra bo prudente.

I'm a native texan, been here all my life.

College educated angelina college.

I didn't graduate.

I had two majors.

I started in the transportation industry in 1973, two different railroads.

I was in charge of operating trains and dispatching trains and I've had many managerial jobs where I've learned how to manage.

Here in austin I am with capital metro.

I'm still in the transportation industry safety department.

And my main concern is our infrastructure.

Our infrastructure is supported by two legs, that is water and electricity.

Our water situation, according to sources in the newspaper and on the radio, a climatologist says that this drought is not going away any time soon.

With the summer starting our lake where we get our drinking water from is half full.

Now, with the current rate of growth, we are experiencing drought, half a lake full of water, they're saying that the lake will not sustain the growth of austin in the future.

What's that mean?

It means we're running out of water.

We can conserve, conserve, conserve.

We can keep conserving until we're out of water.

I've been pushing an alternate source of water to be explored.

I don't say we have to do it, we should be looking at it.

Our energy source has got a shaky leg too.

It's a supporting the water infrastructure and they're both starting to shake a little bit.

Our entire infrastructure is starting to shake.

We need to get serious and look at these problems and start making some very rash decisions.

Take the bull by the horns and start making change.

Let's get austin back on track where it's supposed to be.

Thank you.

>> My name is john duffy.

I'm a local activist.

I grew up in chicago.

I've lived in austin for a handful of years now.

I primarily focus on activism related to environmentalism and sustainability, though I've done work as far as transferring austin's money out of the major banks and into the local banks and institutions.

I've also done work with groups working with the local school district trying east austin schools from -- keep east austin schools from being privatized with the idea of charter schools.

Other than that I would have to say that I'm really running because I feel there is one mindset that always hits across any sort of government, and definitely our city council here in austin, and the mindset is always that growth is inevitable, growth is good, growth should be stimulated and infinite growth is completely possible.

And then we always complain about like the outgrowth of that.

Almost every question that will probably be asked tonight will be something along the lines of traffic congestion, affordability, and typically these things all run out of the concept that if we just keep growing and growing and growing.

Further, it just kind of chaps my guns here that we call ourselves the most sustainable city, and that's sort of paradoxical to me.

That's like saying we're the freest prison.

Having the most sustainable city doesn't mean that much when we have truck after truck running on diesel fuel bringing in everything we eat and wear and use to build every structure.

When we have a power plant running on coal.

When we have a water source dwindling, that you have a sustainable city is kind of dumb.

Anyway, that's why I'm running.

My name is john duffy.

I've been endorsed by the texans for accountable government and burnt orange report called me the best protest vote this year, so I'll take that as another endorsement.

>> Thank you for having us.

I'm bill spelman.

I'm the incumbent in place 5 and I'm the person that all these other folks are running against.

I've been on the council since 2009.

I was also on the city council for three years in the late 1990's.

I think the biggest problems facing the city right now are outgrowths, the kind of duffy was just talking about.

We can argue whether growth is a good idea or bad idea, but we can't argue our way out of is.

no we have to live with it.

We have to figure out some way of thriving in it.

Traffic congestion is much worse in large part because we're adding 100,000 people per year in the austin metro area.

Most of them are not living inside the city of austin.

Most are living outside, which means a lot longer journey to work, which means they spend more time on the road, which means our traffic gets even more congested than it otherwise would.

We need to deal with that.

We need to deal with affordability.

One of the reasons we have an affordability problem in the central city is because most of those people coming to town are adding to the demand for housing inside the central city, who are not increasing the supply of housing inside the central city.

And one of the things we have to give a lot of thought to over the next few years is how we can increase the number of apartment buildings and -- number of apartment building -- number of townhouses, condominiums, find some way of integrating that multi-family housing into the fabric of our central city neighborhoods in such a way that we're holding them harmless, keeping up the character of the central city neighborhoods, but also able to absorb a much larger population inside the central city.

That's what it will take to be able to keep our prices down because the supply will be able to increase commensurate with the demand.

In addition to traffic and affordability, what I've spent time it doing is fulfilling ralph yarrio bro's ask that we move the jam jar from the top shelf and move it to the bottom shelf.

I've spent time dealing with construction worker safety, with small businesses, with payday lending, with all sorts of people who are often not paid attention to to make sure they get their fair share out of the city council.

And I ask for your vote.

Thank you, ma'am.

>> Hi.

My name is john rubine.

I'm running for city council and the reason I'm running is for my wife, my children, my neighbors, my friends and my co-workers and my community and the communities of my co-workers.

We all live in communities that are essentially forgotten.

We live north of 183, east of i-35 and south of ben white.

We work hard and pay our taxes everyday.

And we thought we were doing the right thing.

We thought we were on the right path.

I've been living may my neighborhood almost a decade and there isn't a piece of green infrastructure to be seen.

The new austin hasn't caught up to me yet.

And I'm running now to say that the council, councilmember spelman owes me three years, owes my family three years of representation.

And I've come to collect.

We can talk about all these things, but there's the seven percent voter turnout in last election.

Are we a democracy?

If we are, then that should be a scandal and a crisis and I don't see any presence on the city council to address that.

I want to bring real energy and focus to bring the 10-1 plan to bear for the city and all the changes recommended by the city council's own charter revision commission.

I think we need a champion for those changes on the city council now.

I think all the high dollar deals and back room deals and legacy projects that we're seeing happening now couldn't take place in a city with a real democracy and a real voter turnout.

And let's level the playing field, let's make this the number one city of its size in the country for voter turnout.

It starts with a dream and really it starts with electing somebody with a wanting to do it, and that's me.

>> Hi.

I'm tina cannon.

I thank you for hosting this forum tonight.

As a voter I've always looked to the league of women voters for a source of inspiration and resource and I'm privilege and honored to be on the other side of the equation tonight.

I grew up in las vegas.

I moved to austin in '93.

So I've been here a good while.

Prior to living in austin i started my career as an emt.

Once I got to austin I gave a shot, but it was just too darn big for me.

And traveled down south to san marcos and attended southwest texas state university where I received my accounting degree.

I worked in the private sector as an accountant, an auditor, and I served on the board of certified fraud examiners here in austin.

I've transition mid career since then and gone on to be an entrepreneur and small business owner, and I look to champion those causes on city council.

I've been a ceo and co-founder of a number of companies, including the nation's leading pet melt resource, pets md, as well as a local magazine resource called local loyalty that is designed to highlight and support locally owned independent businesses.

I've served as the precinct co-chair of one of the largest precincts in southwest austin, precinct 339, as well as chair of a neighboring precinct, 339.

I hope to use my background and innovation and business to bring a unique voice to city council, to be a voice of reason and accountability.

I look to be accessible and authentic in who I am.

And I think that there are a number of issues facing our city and I'm sure that we'll talk about main of those tonight.

I stand firm on my support of 10-1.

I encourage you all to be out here tomorrow for city council meeting and watch the proceedings as they take place.

There is a discussion on the table.

In addition I look to support local business and do what I can to create and foster a feeling of entrepreneurism back into the city of austin.

Again, I'm tina cannon.

You can learn more about me online.

>> My name is david conley.

I've been in austin since 1994.

And I am a graduate of u.t.

Architecture school and u.t.

College of engineering.

And it an honor to be here with these other fine candidates.

And in this still new city hall, which actually this city hall, my understanding the architect said he was inspired by austin and its environment.

And some of you may remember when autoing predock unveiled his initial designs he got a big round of criticism for having a design that looked too much like a parking garage.

I think he did it on purpose.

I think he was sending us a message.

Today one-third of our infrastructure is devoted just to the automobile.

That leaves two-thirds for everything else.

Housing, grocery stores, commercial, retail, you name it.

All fighting for the remaining two-thirds of infrastructure.

If you want to talk about affordability, I'm ready to have that conversation.

We need urban rail because we need an alternative to the current mode of transportation and it's not working and it's also costing us money.

We spend a billion dollars on fuel alone per year to fuel our cars, and that money goes to canada, mexico, saudi arabia.

It literally goes up in smoke.

It's simple economics.

Let's do what we can to keep the money here.

Let's do what we can to keep austin affordable.

It's all related.

It's all connected and there's a lot of things we can do.

We've done a lot, but i think there's a lot more we can do.

Thank you.

>> Good evening, my name is dominic chavez.

I'm candidate for place 5.

I want to first thank the league of women voters for hosting this.

This is a great opportunity.

Also the city of austin for allowing us to use their facilities.

This is a very important election.

A lot of big issues.

A lot of difference of opinions.

So I think this is a great opportunity to share those differences and explain our issues and positions on issues.

In terms of myself, I moved to texas when I was 18 years old.

I was one of the first in my family to go to college.

I moved to san antonio, texas.


Went on to graduate school at texas a&m university.

Enlisted in the united states army reserve where i served 10 years.

Once called overseas to iraq in support of operation iraqi freedom.

I moved to austin about 11 years ago.

I've lived in this community since.

I have worked in the public and private sectors on issues as diverse as transportation, economic development and now education.

I've been a former neighborhood president from far south austin, so i understand some of the challenges that many folks in this community face and the feeling of being disconnected from city hall.

I'm running for a number of reasons.

Most of which is that in austin we are a city of contradictions.

For all the wonderful things we have achieved, for all the great things that we are, we have a lot of challenges, but more importantly we have opportunities yet to seize.

I am focused in this campaign and we'll talk more today as we go through this debate, I'm concerned about affordability and how typical families on the typical income can make ends meet in this community.

Not just for property taxes, but also your utility rates and other costs of living.

I want to make sure we continue to make cost effective investment in public safety so that our neighborhoods and schools and places of work remain safe.

And finally, I believe that education is something that this city government ought to take a much stronger, bolder, strategic leadership role in rallying this community to make it the single greatest priority because for all that we have accomplished today, unless we improve our education and extend on our education, expand our educational opportunities for every corner of this community, we won't achieve much.

>> Thank you.

We'll start the questioning with bo prudente.

This is a two-part question.

Are you in favor of a downtown urban rail system?

Why or why not?

And the second part is there seem to be a number of plans for downtown that would enhance the transportation in that area.

How would you address the needs for the rest of the city?

>> Well, first off for the urban rail, I'm against it.

We have other priorities that need immediate attention that we don't have must not for.

Now, as far as the rail goes, to me that is transportation amenity.

There's been billions of dollars pumped into the transportation here in austin, projects by the texas transportation commission, and we still have problems with our congestion.

As long as we have growth, we are not going to get rid of congestion.

Now, we have a bus system set up, and it works, and it's cheap.

Okay, as far as -- what was the second part of that question?

>> There seem to be a number of plans for downtown that would increase -- enhance the transportation in that area.

How would you address the needs of the rest of the city?

>> As I said, we have the bus system set up and it works, and if you like amenity, there's taxis that cost a lot more.

The traffic congestion is going to be here.

As long as we have growth, we're going to have congestion.

But I am against urban rail.

>> Thank you.

John duffy?

>> Again, as long as we keep encouraging growth and encouraging major corporations to come here and encouraging people to move here, we're going to always experience more and more congestion.

And there's also an issue with people believing that they have an inherent right to move from one far flung corner of town to the other and have this happen in an expedited fashion.

People need to take at least a modicum of responsibility and do their best to live nearest to where they have to go the most often, ie, work.

But at the same time, I do believe what we have to do is focus primarily on the viability of neighborhoods to reduce the amount of miles people need to travel.

So for instance, on the east side are places where we have food deserts and stuff people shouldn't have to go downtown to get something good to eat.

We need to have viability in every neighborhood so people can not require massive transit everyday.

>> Bill spelman?

>> I agree entirely with duffy on the need for complete neighborhoods.

One of the things I was saying a few moments ago is we need to reduce the amount of travel people have to do so they don't have to go to one far flung corner of the town to another to get their needs met.

This is another one of the things that imagine austin taskforce and which thousands of austin citizens have been spending a lot of time working on over the last couple of years as part of the comprehensive plan is how can we develop a city where we do have more complete neighborhoods?

Where you can walk or take a short bike ride or a short bus ride in order to get from where you are to where you want to go.

On the downtown rail, i think we will eventually need a downtown rail, but it has to be the right system.

It can't just connect the university, the state capitol complex and the central business district.

It's actually got to connect to where people are to where they want to go.

Downtown is part of where people want to go, but we also need to think in terms of rail and other capacity improvements all through the city.

Capacity improvements can include bus rapid transit, more lane miles, a whole bunch of things.

>> John rubine?

>> I'm against the rail.

I feel if you take anybody and say we're going to do this multi-million-dollar project, but it's really only going to benefit those who live and work in the city center, you would meet no one who is surprised.

The problem with rail is it takes a long time, it's very expense active sieve and it's not going to become diffused so all the neighborhoods benefit.

Buses are the way to go, they're on the ground.

What we need is a city council who is ready to say we are actually committed to helping people get to where they have to go, not where they want to go, no one takes the bus or a car because they just feel like it very often.

They might have to work 12 miles away from where they live.

We need better connecting buses on streets like slaughter, william cannon, stassney.

We need bus stops with real shelter that make it comfortable for people to the way.

We need a city council that's willing to say we're going to give you a better bus stand then allow our -- bus system and then allow ourselves to be held accountable for that commitment.

>> Tina cannon?

>> I definitely favor a multimodal transportation system.

Whether or not that includes rail I think is really yet to be determined.

Until the market really shifts in that direction where there's a high demand for that type of transportation, then we should look at the nearly $200 million in expenditures and really what are we going to get back for that on rail before we start going down that proverbial, no pun intended, road.

It's a fixed system.

, Which doesn't allow for flexibility to change and modify as our city grows.

Whereas our transit system definitely allows for that.

The reason behind your first part of your question for downtown getting so much attention and I'm sure we'll talk about it, is the lack of geographic representation.

I live in southwest austin and oak hill where I watched oak hill businesses be mowed completely over.

And I watched the other leftover businesses eventually eeke away because there wasn't an opportunity with sitting through traffic to be able to make that a available neighborhood.

So to the extent that john talks about viable neighborhoods, I think it's important, however the last thing I want to see is us become a dallas.

As long as we're supporting viable neighborhoods with independent businesses --

>> time.

>> Yes.

>> David conley.

>> With all respect to prudente, I think urban rail is a priority.

I think growth is intestifiable.

It's biology.

Populations will grow, so we'll have to deal with it.

And urban rail is to me a priority in a sense that it's about infrastructure.

We're building and building and building here.

And we're going to be having to house more people, but we're basically building it the wrong way as far as infrastructure and housing goes.

We're 30% of the cost of a construction project can be the parking garage itself.

We're talking about affordable housing going out the window right there.

We need to be able to build infrastructure that's not auto dependent.

And developers aren't going to rely on buses to build something that's not auto -- not auto dependent.

And with respect to cannon, the flexibility of the bus systems is a problem because developers don't want to invest a million dollars into a project that they think the bus line might move.

The rail is going to stay there.

They know they can rely on it and future tenants or owners can rely on it.

Thank you.

>> Dom chavez.

>> I do not support investing a billion dollars in urban rail.

I do support a more cost effective, transit system.

Just like the city of austin has spent the last year on this issue, two other communities this this country, nashville and detroit had similar studies underway.

Both of those communities within a week of each other last december walked away from their plans of urban rail because they both discovered independently that one, they could not afford the capital expenditures, but most importantly they had no way to identify our capture or measure the long-term operating costs.

More importantly portland, oregon, which most people point to as a model of mass transit in this country has a 16-million-dollar deficit going into the fiscal year that will lead to a reduction in services and increase in fares to the rail raiders and bus riders.

I think we need to explore bus rapid transit.

You can build it for nichols and dimes on the dollar compared to rail and it's much more flexible to adjust to our changing transportation patterns.

>> Our next question is regarding affordable housing.

And we will start with mr. chavez.

The question is what would you define as affordable housing in downtown austin?

How can austin become a city of mixed income levels without taxing citizens, especially our seniors, out of their homes?

>> I think this is one of the most fundamentally critical conversations that we need to have in this when I talked in the opening about a city of contributions, this is one of the -- contradictions, this is one of the primary issues I was speaking to.

There are a lot of families that can't afford to live housing, so when you look at downtown austin if you have a family making $40,000 or in some cases even $70,000 or less, they couldn't afford to pay the market rates here in downtown austin.

So certainly we need to look at ways to infuse those populations and ability to actually purchase or rent homes, housing in the downtown area.

We need to make sure that our affordable housing options are also geographically disbursed so we're not concentrating them in one part of town, which has been the historical strategy when we've talked about affordable housing.

I support the public sector continuing to find ways to leverage our dollars with the private industry to make sure we get more affordable housing and that's something we ought to remain committed to.

>> Mr. prudente?

>> When we have developers like trammell crow that have a tentative agreement for so much affordable housing, then there towards the end they want to change it all up, we need to hold them to their tentative agreements.

If there's anything in writing, hold them to it.

We don't need reneging on contracts because they want to build a parking garage or whatever.

There is a three-year waiting list for affordable housing.

That tells you how deep it is.

Now, some people that live on social security income is about six hundred dollars.

It's very low.

These folks are really hurting.

You look at the median family income, which i believe one of the numbers is $60,000 for a family of two, 80% of that is what we're going by.

And that's too high a number.

That needs to come down because there are a lot of folks here in austin from middle class, lower and fixed income that come nowhere near that number.

>> Mr. duffy?

>> Quickly, he said populations always grow.

They also collapse.

That's also biology.

And if you want to look at it, look at detroit or pittsburgh or other cities that didn't plan well.

Other than that, issues of affordability are important, but we have to acknowledge that they don't -- a lot of affordability is not necessarily a local issue.

Now, some of it is, but when you look at prices of fuel, food, declining dollar, everyone is getting hit across the board.

Now what can we do locally?

We're like kind of fighting the tides here, but really the only avenues of attack are property taxes, utility rates and zoning issues.

But the premise built into the question is we want to keep downtown affordable.

And again, if we just keep trying to grow the city and build more big glass sky scrapers down here, we're going to price out the poor and the middle class and it's almost inevitable.

So the best thing we can do is keep again the neighborhoods immediately outside viable, keep their property taxes locked down and low so they're not forced out.

>> Mr. spelman.

>> When we talk about affordable housing I think it's important to recognize that we're talking about two problems and they're really separate.

One is the affordability that most middle class people deal with with the value of their house, the value of their property taxes, increasing faster than their ability to pay for them.

Increasing faster than their wages, increasing faster than inflation.

And the primary solution to that problem, probably caused that problem, is because of a tremendous growth over the last 160 years.

And the fact that we have 100,000 people coming to town every year.

And we need to find some places for them to go.

If we had a higher supply of housing inside the city of austin, then those prices would not go up so fast and they might stabilize and that affordability problem would go away.

The real bigger problem, i think, and the one that's hardest to deal with is what do we do with people who make $20,000 a year or $30,000 a year?

What the city council has done over the last three years and more years than that is secure affordable housing all over the city, not just in the east side, not just in poor neighborhoods, but all over the city.

I could give you a lot of examples and I think we need to continue doing that.

>> Time.

>> Thank you.


>> When my wife and I and baby boy moved here eight years ago, downtown was already out of reach to us.

So we went ahead and we moved and bought a house down south past ben white.

And that was where we could find affordable homes.

And there are still affordable homes there.

There are large parts of austin that I consider and me and my wife make the median family income -- consider affordable.

The drawback of those neighborhoods is that they've been completely forgotten and ignored by the city council for so long that they don't really have very much to commend them other than the fact that they are affordable.

Austin is more than the core.

Instead of constantly focusing on downtown and what we're going to do, let's start enriching and renewing the neighborhoods outside of downtown.

And get those neighborhoods into a place where people would be happy to move.

>> Ms. cannon?

>> It's a big question for a minute and a half.

I would add a third prong to what the professor said about affordability.

I think there's another issue that we touched on briefly, which is transportation.

When you look at a map of austin, and you start plotting home prices, obviously city center is the most expensive.

As you get further out you see affordability going down as far as housing prices go.

So until we really address the issues of transportation, along with being sensitive to what we're doing with the environment as far as like talking about roads that are going over the aquifer, these are things that we don't need to be supporting, and sh 45.

I grew up in public housing.

I had my feet firmly on the ground when it comes to understanding to what another gentleman said about pockets of poverty.

We see that here in austinite quite a bit and we know a what neighborhoods we're talking about.

I think removing some of the restrictions and ordinances in neighborhood plans to allow for multi-family housing to be developed in those areas will help really put a face on those looking for affordable housing in neighborhoods other than those that are surrounded by pockets of poverty.

It's time that we all become each other's neighbor.

>> Among other things it's an issue of supply and demand, obviously.

And like I said earlier, when a third of our square footage is reserved only for automobiles, we'll have a problem here right out the gate.

We obviously need to densify if we're going to provide more housing.

And we can't do that with our current transportation system.

cannon pointed out, transportation is a big part of it.

That's why I was saying we needed urban rail.

Everything else, there are other programs we can tackle directly to it, and that's fine.

But I think that we need to look it from a two prong approach and one is from infrastructure.

Right now our city code require that we have two shelters for each car.

One at home and one at work.

But for poor people and homeless, maybe there's a nonprofit that might be able to help out.

That's ridiculous and that's something we need to change.

Thank you.

>> David conley, what policies would you put in place to promote local austin businesses?

>> Well, I want to promote a tax plan I call the faba tax plan.

And it's basically a 20,000-dollar tax exemption per property that is owned by a local resident.

It's similar to the homestead plan, but in this case I would have it go across the board include commercial and residential.

And the key would be that each property would have to be owned by an actual person, not a corporation or an entity or an llc, but it would be an actual person.

And it would also apply to the commercial business, but in this case the commercial business would have to be leased to a local business.

So basically the property tax reductions I think in that sense I'd help promote local businesses.

Again, I think having a better transportation system, like I said before, promotes local, walkable, all these things are better for local businesses than they are for wal-mart.

Wal-mart is built on a highway type system.

And again, I think transportation is key.

Thank you.

>> Dom chavez.

>> I think this is a key issue because we've spent a lot of time in the city of austin catering to our large corporations, offering tax incentives and subsidies and making sure that they have thrive.

We haven't spent enough time talking about small business.

Small business, as the son of a small business owner who built one from the ground up and made it thrive, I will tell you they're not looking for handouts.

What they're looking for is their local government and government in general is to get out of the way and make things possible for them to achieve success.

So one of the things we need to look at is, one, make sure that small business owners have access, the same type of access that the big corporations have to city so that when we have challenges they know that they have a voice at city hall where they can see regulations amended, they can address challenges that they're facing.

I think we also have to address the permitting process and make sure that small businesses aren't unduly targeted for permitting and other things that make things difficult for them to achieve what they're trying to do on a daily basis.

I think streamlining local government to do that is the best thing that we could do.

>> Bo prudente.

>> Yes.

Small businesses are very expensive for the owner to maintain.

Now, you've got your corporations that come in here and we're helping them out with corporate welfare.

Why don't we reverse that and help out the small businesses with some tax cuts?

How about their commercial telephone system, their commercial electricity that's a lot higher than anybody else's?

Perhaps we should do something to help them there.

And also, maybe we should do some type of public service advertising for a number of these small businesses.

Maybe that would help them get business and get their business going well.

They need help.

And that's what a city council is there for is to listen to these people that need help.

So that's what we need to do, listen to them.

We don't know what their problems are until they come here and tell us.

So if we have a city council that listens to the people, that's what they can do.

>> John duffy?

>> One of the things that really fascinates me is the business mode of a cooperative.

Whether people own the business that they work for, they actually care about it.

People don't -- especially when you're like me, you work at a restaurant or some low end job.

You don't really love it.

Being an employee kind of sucks.

You really have no dictate over anything.

We have an issue with a lot of unemployment among young people and we have an issue where nationally the average age of farmers are like 65 and they're all going into retirement.

Now, I would suggest that as a city we start take something land, some structures we have that are unused or underused, and we start organizing a method to get cooperatives together for the creation of permaculture forms, cooperatively owned grocery stores, community centers and other small businesses, possibly manufacturing small items or whatever could be sourced locally and start getting cooperative businesses built and assisting in the process of having that happen.

>> Bill spelman.

>> These fellows will be telling you what it is they plan on doing.

Let me tell you what it is I've already done.

Two years ago the city council recognized small business as the primary engine of economic growth and primary engine of job creation in this city as in all other cities in the united states.

Held the first ever small business summit.

We brought in a lot of small business people and asked them what are your problems?

What is it the city can do to actually help make your life easier and help you expand and grow your business?

And they told us maine other things that the city has this tremendous blizzard of licenses and permits that get in their ability to do their job.

In response to that, I've asked for three prong program for the city manager to develop.

The first is an ombudsman.

One office that small businesses can go to to help navigate that blizzard of licenses and permits.

Second, to go through all the regular layings that constrain businesses to figure out which ones we really need and which ones we don't.

And third to on a systematic basis on a case-by-case basis develop alternative compliance plans.

Develop a system where all small businesses can get a different way to solve their problems.

>> John rubine.

>> Small businesses are like artists.

They take risks, create something from nothing and they break new ground.

I've talked to a lot of small businesses -- I assume you mean small business, not local.

Because not all local business here is small.

Let's say we're talking small.

It's the bureaucracy that they talk about.

Not the taxes.

They knew what they were getting into.

The thing that usually blindsides them is the bureaucracy.

The bureaucracy that the city council has tolerated for so long.

The councilman's idea of an only bud man is what would take the place of single-member districts where they would be an actual flesh and blood conduit for everybody in their district or in a district where they work between them and city hall.

That's one of the benefits of single-member districts.

Hiring an ombudsman for 800,000 people isn't a solution.

Let's just make it easier for them to do what they do.

Let's listen to what they want.

And let's not give big tax breaks to apple computers.

>> Tina cannon.

>> As the only small business owner, only entrepreneur and only innovator and only instructor at texas state university of entrepreneurism, this is a passionate issue of mine.

You can read any campaign of sign that you see around town, it says fostering entrepreneur ship.

I'm a firm believer in supporting your small the office of ombudsman is a noble idea.

It will become yet another bottleneck.

And what we don't have is a system of being able to review where all these bottle necks exist in the system because it is a city manager form of government.

Meaning that if you have an issue, we at city council would not -- would not know about -- we wouldn't know when a phone call goes unanswered, unreturned.

There's not a system in place to designate where the bottle necks and frustrations that are felt by small businesses everyday.

It doesn't take a summit, it takes a conversation.

>> Our next question is regarding utility rates and we will start with ms. cannon.

[One moment, please, for change in captioners] .. they had so much extra money at the end of the fiscal year they didn't know what to do with it.

Wow, what a great opportunity, what an amazing ability to be able to not plan for austin's future.

We appreciate that.

It is about planning.

It is about planning for the future and taking initiatives to encourage austin to become the leader in alternative energy sources.

The mayor has gone on record as saying that we are the solar capital of the united states.

Let's hold true to that.

Let's really push for alternative forms of energy so we are not reliant on one form of energy here in austin.

Let's advance the causes and be an innovator within a city that has held so strongly to being independent.

And breaking our addiction to the coal plant is one step, adding solar is another.

Really planning for our future and not assuming that energy prices are going to go down any time soon.

>> Thank you, mr. conley.

>> Again, I think this is a two-prong approach.

Yes, we definitely need to take a look at what has happened over the last 10 years, look at what austin energy is spending as far as salaries stuff like that, what can we modify, save on.

At the same time, I think this is also again goes back to the infrastructure issue.

We can design housing that's more energy efficient.

It's out there, it's being done in other places and we just need to allow it through zoning and again through the -- density, it's amazing how much there is tide togetherred that can be done that saves us money on the cost of living, infrastructure, if we just build the infrastructure the right way.

>> Thank you.

>> Thank you, mr. chavez.

>> We certainly have a spending problem at austin energy.

We certainly have a revenue problem at austin energy.

But I would submit to you those are symptoms of the bigger problem which is the governance problem at austin energy.

We are no longer operating a small electric company, we are operating a $1 billion enterprise and what I have been talking about throughout this campaign, no one else has been talking about, is fundamentally changing our governance structure and appointing an independent board of directors with professional expertise in terms of managing and providing oversight of such an entity.

That's the only way to get politics out of our energy company both in terms of what it spends and revenue increases and they will focus on three primary things in this order.

One, how do we provide reliable electric service;, two, how do we do that in the most fair, affordable way; then three has can we then reside to the city in terms of a dividend to support their general fund.

Right now that's upside-down because you have city council members and politicians making decisions and transferring money.

>> Thank you.

Mr. prudente.

>> In the last 10 years we can look back and use the last 10 years to go forward for the next 10 years.

There's been some mismanagement related to equipment that has needed repairing and maintenance that apparently wasn't tear of.

Now the time -- wasn't taken care of.

Now the time comes it's going to cost a lot of money.

Now, there is a problem there that is created, now we have a -- a supply and demand.

I look at that as a business statement, when you have a demand that's not being supplied you're going to have to charge more, that's business.

Same thing with the water rates.

We are starting to see utility rates going up.

Now, who suffers the most, the people in a can't afford them.

So I suggest that we look at ways to exempt low and fixed income families from utility rate hikes.

>> Mr. duffy.

>> The utility rate question is one that is very large, comes with a lot of factors.

You have issues with the water, whether we're talking about leakage, whether we're talking about water treatment plant 4 and where we put our money and with electricity we can be talking the transfers to the general fund out of the profits that come you the on of austin energy.

cannon said, spelman has often referred to they had to figure out how to spend, spend, spend in the late '90s, if only we would have put that towards decentralized solar or take it out of austin energy and going into the general fund, keep energy money focused on energy and not going into general spending, we can start looking at things like decentralized solar.

conley is talking about, certain building types will use less energy.

I'm going to sound crazy and radical, but if we can build things like cob, straw bales, rammed earth, old ways of doing things that actually used less we could promote more conservation here in the future.

>> Mr. spelman.

>> I agree having an empty board governing austin energy is a good idea.

The only reason we haven't spent more time talking about it as a city council is because we have to get through this rate case first.

That rate case started two years ago when it became clear that austin energy did have a problem with not having enough revenues to be able to cover their expenses.

It's taken two years to get to the point where we are right now.

But we're going to pass a change in our rates.

And we're also going to aadopt a resolution which tells -- for future city councils, you better be talking about changes in those rates every five years, so this doesn't have to happen again.

More generally, what we have done well is keep our rates lower than the average for the state of texas, we have done this by keeping your bills low by encouraging conservation in a way that no other city council, no other energy utility in texas has done.

What we also need to do as part of our rates is to provide an incentive on an ongoing basis for the electric utility to continue its conservation programs to keep all of our bills low so we don't have to use as much electricity, that is the cheapest way for us to solve our electrical problems.

>> The performance of our electric company should be judged as much on how much they cut their own costs over the course of time as to how well they encourage conservation.

If there was a period during the '90s when we had more money than we knew what to do with, we should have banked it.

They should have been rate riseally over that time, there probably will be rate rises in the future, that's just the way it is.

It doesn't mean that it should be used as a door tax by taking money out of austin energy and putting in the general fund.

The rates need to be spread fairly between commercial users and residential users.

The way they charge to reward conservation and any audit of austin energy should be visible to the public so that we know when they need a rate hike that it's the money they actually need and not more than they actually have to have.

>> Starting this time it's john rubine.

Will which of the several proposed district plans for electing city council do you favor?

How would you go about implementing the one that you favor?

And do you favor an independent citizens redistricting commission?

>> I do favor an independent citizens redistricting commission.

I've been committed to the 10 to 1 plan since the very beginning.

I don't see any alternative.

And all of the recommendations of the charter revision committee i support, moving elections to november and independent citizens redistricting commission and that they voted for the 10 to 1 plans.

10 Geographic districts and one mayor elected at large.

That's what I support.

I think it's the most important reform that we can do.

I think our current city counci equivocated on it, not being straightforward.

More and more people are realizing it has to happen that way.

I think reform is inevitable, I think the city council now will be held accountable for being slow on it.

>> Tina.

>> This is an issue that comes up with every for run, I think that it's continuing to come up because we are struggling as a city to find leadership on this issue.

I support the ten-1 geographic plan, I have from day one, as well as support the work of the charter committee to put together an independent districting committee made up of citizens.

I am concerned about the upcoming vote tomorrow at city council to circumvent this process.

I think that it's imperative as leaders we do just that.

We provide the information and opinions of what our direction is for the city, rather than waiver on well I'll put the best one through.

That's not leadership.

That's lecturing.

It's high time to put leaders on city council that are willing to have a stand, have an opinion on the future of austin's politics.

I stand firm with 10-1 i would like to put it on the ballot in november.

In addition I would like to put changing our elections from may to november to increase voter turnout.

7% Is an abysmal number to decide what happens in austin on a daily basis.

>> David conley?

>> I support independent board as well.

I think gerrymandering is probably one of the top five threats to democracy and we see that at every level of government, something that needs to be addressed.

I do think any plan with geographical representation is an improvement over the current system.

I think it's important.

I particularly -- I support the 10-1, over that, though, I do support actually a hybrid system in the sense of -- of eight single-member districts, two at large, one mayor, in the sense that i think that the true at large, there is value to a collective voice that's representative in the council and I think that would be represented by a hybrid system and would work well in achieving what we're trying to get to in the future.

Thank you.

>> Dom chavez.

>> I'm a strong supporter of the 10-1 plan.

I support the independent redistricting or districting commission.

I'm also supportive of moving our elections, our municipal elections to november.

As to believe former neighborhood association -- the only former neighborhood association president in this race, I recognize the challenge as I mentioned in my opening how disconnected some neighborhoods in this town feel they are from city hall.

We have low voter turnout.

Parts of this community that I have heard as I've been campaigning have never even seen a councilmember.

The 10-1 plan and moving to single-member districts is just good government.

It increases your chance of very simple things, like actually having a chance to run into your representative at city hall at your local church, your local grocery store, at the park, one of your kids soccer games, having a connection to the people who are making decisions.

This is the single greatest reform we can do.

This is why this election is so important because some people want to lead and others want to follow.

I believe 10-1 is something that communities rally behind and I will support it 110%.

>> Prudente.

>> Yes, I support the redistricting committee and also support 10-1.

The city is too large and is getting larger.

To -- to have at large.

So if you had districts represented by someone that's going to be on the council for that district, these people in the district have somebody to go to.

The go-to guy.

Also, may have another advantage, being that you're in a smaller area, rather than at large, maybe your children's friends parents may know you and vice versa around the district.

So being that you are in the district, maybe your neighborhood associations, you are easier to be known rather than somebody up 10 miles away from north austin from south austin won't know you at large.

So, yes, maybe it will increase voter participation because of the personal relationship that an incumbent can hold in that district.

>> John duffy?

>> I will preface this by saying I don't support or not support really any particular plan.

I just find the whole thing rather amusing that we talk about this, we're going to have 10 to one and then all of a sudden like you and the other 79,999 people represented by that particular councilman can all bump into them at the soccer game.

That's kind of silly.

If I were to sit here or if I were to suggest we had a council of a thousand people we could really reduce those rates, you could really know your councilman, everyone would call me crazy if i said that.

I really think what we need to focus on is civic engagement and participation.

More than how we kind of select representation.

Again, I'm not against it or for it.

I want people to have this up for referendum to just kind of choose it on their own.

But we really need to work on how people can get things passed, bring things to city council, how they can approach council and how they can get into some of these meetings and actually have a little power of their own in their neighborhood.

>> Bill spelman.

>> Like everybody else here, I am in favor of geographic representation, I have been since I got here in 1988 and became astonished to understand that the city of austin was one of the biggest cities that doesn't have it.

We need that.

The question is not just 10-1, it's simple, easy to understand, a head of stream.

The real problem that I'm concerned about.

0 And 6, six times in a row austin voters have had an opportunity to enact single-member districts and six times in a row they've said no.

What I said what's going to happen the seventh time if we all want this, perhaps we should listen to people worried about ward politics, that nobody is going to look out for the entire city, maybe a hybrid system is something that they will support.

If more people will support a hybrid than 10-1, maybe we can get it passed this time.

I am very much in favor of the citizens charter districting commission.

So much in favor, in fact, that mayor pro tem cole and I have an item on the agenda tomorrow to actually appoint a commission to begin the work of that, even in advance of the charter changing.

>> Okay.

Our next question is regarding the environment and we will start with you, mr. spelman.

It's a three part question.

Considering the projected growth rate of austin expected to double in the next 30 years, what do you think is the best solution for our projected water needs?

Especially considering future droughts.

Are you in favor of increasing fees for heavy user of water and electricity?

And the city has depended on the transfer of funds from austin energy to the city budget.

Do you think it should continue, why or why not?

>> I'm going to take up the water one first.

We are using successively less water with each year per person.

We are using more water every year because we have more people, but we've already started to solve our water needs problems in a small way by living closer together and by having a larger percentage of our population living in multi-family housing.

Where you don't have large yards to irrigate.

We're going to -- many of us are going to continue living in single family houses, i do.

And one of the easiest ways to solve that problem at least ameliorate is to send purple pipe down through our city streets.

That's reused water, water we've used once, goes out.

Right now we are dumping out in the colorado river.

If we send it back upstream, it's treated, safe, certainly safe for irrigation, that would take care of most of our irrigation needs and we would be able to use the water coming out of lake travis, not just once but twice.

I think it's going to be increasingly important for us to do that as the drought continues and as the levels going further and further down.

My apologies for not having the answer the rest of your questions, I'll try to get to it later.

Mr. rubine.

>> It's actually rubine.

I hate to use my time to say that.

But -- we've got a lot of leaking water infrastructure.

We talk about a lot of grand projects.

We actually invests hundreds of millions of dollars in ground water projects.

But something so simple as fix our leaking water infrastructure and prevent the loss of billions of gallons of water per year to that you might be surprised to know seems to get overlooked.

I think that's indicative of our leadership, looking at grand visions and basically losing connection with the ground beneath your feet.

Austin energy fund transfer, that's no good.

You have to raise our taxes or take money out of austin energy, there's no substitute for fiscal discipline.

That fiscal discipline should have been enacted years and years ago and it hasn't been.

Elections are good because they are able to hold people accountable for that.

I hope this one does.


>> When it comes to water conservation, reuse, repair and adjust.

Obviously we've talked about repairing leaky pipes.

Unfortunate that they are doing it on my street or unfortunate because it's pretty loud right now.

To conserve the water that is going through our leaky pipes, to reuse water more than once and to adjust our behavior in how we use our water, both in a commercial sense and in a residential sense.

If it means imposing a larger excess fee for those commercial establishments or residents who are using more water than they should be, it's something we need to take a look.

I also think that the bigger part of the picture is really education.

You can only do so much with water.

We can't manufacture it or produce it.

There's not a water factory down the street.

So we need to educate our residents as well as our commercial users of what the right way is to handle water, to reuse water more than one time and to conserve water and then examine whether or not a higher fee structure is recommended for those who are not abiding by what is part of austin's culture.

>> Mr. conley?

>> Let's not forget that it takes water to make energy and it takes energy to make drinkable water.

I think it's ridiculous that we pour tons of water on non-native plants in front of our yards, across this city and that's something that we need to really look at.

Someone who is paying just to drink water shouldn't be paying the same amount to fe a saint augustine lawn that doesn't belong here.

I think that's one of the things that we should approach looking at, among many other things that hav already been mentioned.

I will just jump to the austin energy transfer.

I would like to note that part of that goes to roads.

And one of the things that i would like to do, working with the state, which is probably impossible, is to require that we get a refund of one cent of our fuel excise tax they take from you the, the city of austin, refund that back to us so we can fund that on roads.

Most of our roads do not see that money.

It goes to txdot so they can build their things.

I think if they had that money, we could save it.

Thank you.

>> Mr. chavez?

>> Certainly not enough time to talk about the all strategies, but certainly we have to recognize that water conservation is one of the key challenges that we have to face.

Here's what I would do.

I think one of the things that we have to recognize is that the business model that we have at our water utility company is broken and not designed for water conservation in mind.

The fact is that the more water we conserve the less revenues, the he less revenues the more pressure to raise water rates or charge other users and then we continue to transfer money into the general budget regardless of that.

I think we need to look to some of the communities that have to deal with arid environments like el paso, texas, phoenix, arizona, some of the communities in california to recognize what -- how do we build a business model at our water utility that adjusts to the changing climate we're experiencing here in austin, texas.

How do they conserve water and still keep a healthy utility company and affordable rates?

Because other people are doing this.

They have strategies that think we ought to replicate and recognize those and i also think this is another utility that we need to have an independent board to help us manage those decisions in the future.

>> Mr. prudente.

>> What you going to do when the well runs dry?

Spicewood beach it came as a surprise.

Now they're trucking in water.

As far as el paso you mentioned, el paso has the largest desalination plant in the united states.

They're out of water, they've been out of water from years.

They get the water from new mexico is it's salty, they hasalinate.

It's not new, it's happening around the world.

We are doing real good with the conservation, excellent.

That's what we need.

However you can only conserve so long, with this drought going on how long will this water last before it no longer sustains yes.

Yes, I believe that we should keep putting money into the austin coffer from austin energy.

>> Mr. duffy.

>> The water situation is precarious and this is a great example of sort of the absurdity of our thought where we can have a city in an area that's semi arid, getting more, that we can cut down trees, lay concrete, develop homes, put big green lawns on them, do this indefinitely and never worry about this.

At some point we have to -- I believe -- draw the line on growth.

We have to say like look, we should be disencouraging more development.

We should be disencouraging doubling the population.

Because at one point, yes, that lake is not going to have enough water for everybody.

We can do our best to conserve, reuse water, define with swale in mind, local trees, local plants, i think all of that is necessary.

I think we just need to take a long, hard look at what we encourage with the left hand and complain about with the right.

>> We will start with john duffy.

According to residents of east austin, and that includes northeast, east central, southeast, their side of town has been neglected in almost every aspect of city government for years.

Despite their attempts at advocacy for things like infrastructure, transportation, affordable housing, and many other needs.

How do you propose to include these citizens in the planning and implementation of needed improvements?

>> How to include them, you have to be open as a council person to hearing the concerns of every part of the city and personally i think there are c sectors that have had more than their fair share of the council ear.

And I definitely think the east portion of town is the one that needs sort of the most attention because it's clear if you drive over there, that it's been neglected.

They definitely need more in the way of infrastructure, we have to definitely be concerned about the gentrification of that area and pushing out the communities that have lived there for decades, in favor of -- of people who want to come in and move in there now.

Access to -- to councilmembers -- you know, to -- you just have to -- i don't know.

Just be open.

Have the door open.

Have the office hours.

Be approachable and get out there, get to their community and listen and hear their needs.

Meet with their groups.

>> Bill spelman?

>> I think there's three ways much one of them is through neighborhood planning, something we started in the late 1990, systematically worked through many of the central city neighborhoods, including many eastside neighborhoods, announce of east austinites have had a chance to sit down with their neighbors, talk about their neighborhoods, develop neighborhood plans, we should continue working on that, particularly in east austin.

At least since 1997 all of the capital improvements, capital improvements programs in the bond issues have made sure that east austin got its fair share of all of the bond money.

Maybe just a little bit more.

I think the biggest reason why infrastructure is still crumbling in east austin is because we had a large deficit to make it.

It's taken more than 15 years to make up.

We need to continue working on it steadily.

I think mr. duffy is right.

Keeping the door open, recognizing in austin decisions are made by task forces, this is the lands of a thousand task forces and making sure that everybody has a fair chance of getting on one of those task forces and saying what they want to say, mixing it up with everything else and issuing a recommendation everybody can live with is an important part of what we have to do.

>> John rubine.

>> A thousand dollars task forces.

This is a sing -- a thousand task forces, this is the single-member district deal right here, right now.

Where is the council for them?

They don't feel the council is there for them.

The infrastructure is not there for them.

Now if we had single-member districts, if we had 10 separate geographical districts, would that make everything better east of 35 right away?

No, but it would send a message, that's a message that needs to be sent that if you can't afford to build sidewalks here, then you can't afford to build sidewalks.

If you can't afford to fix our park here up north, then how is it that you can afford to fix up lady bird lake again?

That's what's beautiful about geographic representation.

It's not necessarily going to make everybody better, but it's going to make everything fair.

And what you are talking there is a fair -- is a fairness issue, but yet the stakes are even higher than that.

Ment and I -- at large council is not going to do it and that's what this council is fighting for and they should be held accountable.

>> Tina cannon.

>> I live in east austin.

I can tell you when I moved here in '93 that east austin from far north to far south looks exactly the same or worse.

In the last 20 years that I've lived here.

To say that they received their quote unquote fair share of the bond money is ludicrous.

You want another clue, no sidewalks, overhead hanging lines that are inhibiting development and construction in east austin.

I would support minority-owned businesses in east austin, I would examine the opportunity to take a look at a homestead exemption for those that are native east austinites and promote continued healthy growth in east austin without gentrifying that area of the city and turning it into yet another tarrytown adjacent to downtown.

I echo the words of mr.

Rubine that geographic representation will definitely have a major impact on getting east austin finally back on the map.

>> David conley?

>> Like I said earlier, the state takes 15 cents per gallon excise tax for road expenditures, yet most of those roads in east austin aren't getting any of that money.

They will put it into i-35 and maybe build a bigger wall between east and west austin.

But I think that what -- when you look at it is getting that money back and putting into infrastructure because remember we've -- cars get the bulk of the money, then we're left fighting for the scraps, cars and highways get the bulk of the money, that's one way to look at it.

The other is that we do need geographic representation so those communities feel more connected, have someone closer to them.

I think that the neighborhood plans have been developed as well currently done as also will be successful.

Thank you.

>> Dom chavez.

>> I think again the neglect of east austin is symptomatic of the broken system of government that we have in austin.

East austin has lacked for true representation for some time.

We have to again as I agree with john rubine, moving to a 10-1 single-member district format will provide additional representatives from that community.

In our elections unfortunately in this community are dominated by a small group of special interests that have to fund all of the candidates.

We have -- we have very low voter turnout.

And so it feeds a system that continues to neglect certain parts of the community.

I would submit to you it's not just east austin.

Come to far south austin, we experience many of the same challenges.

I believe that 10-1 will help deal with those issues.

I also believe it's also the responsibility of the citizens to show up and vote.

That's why I'm very excited about the voter registration and turnout efforts being started in east austin to really drive folks to the rolls, to have their voice heard.

I think the combination of those two things will fundamentally change our approach to east austin.

>> And bo prudente.

>> I drive on east austin quite often.

One of the things that I see is they're lacking sidewalks in quite a few places, some of the roads aren't very well kept.

There is work that needs to be done in east austin roadway wise and sidewalks.

I don't know if there is a priority situation set up.

I'm not that educated to what's going on in that department.

There was a priority -- if there was, what part of town gets the priorities?

Or is it just the draw of the hat?

How does this work?

I don't know.

That's what I would like to know.

But what I am hearing, east austin being neglected.

If that's a fact, we need to stop that.

We need to get to work and bring it up with the rest of the city.

>> This is the final question of the evening, it's regarding police accountability.

And we will start with bo prudente.

Young people of color, other citizens and now dogs have been killed by the police.

Some in the community are more outraged by the killing of dogs than human beings.

What policies will you initiate to address this problem to protect the citizens in this community from racial profiling and excessive use of force by the police.

>> I'll start off by carter, he was shot and killed and it wasn't due to any crime.

He was a suspicious person.

This is from what I read and understand.

This is what I'm repeating.

He was followed to their car.

When the police made their -- their announcement that they were there, the police, of course it scared these young people.

And ended up getting them killed.

Because they were afraid.

They didn't do anything wrong.

They were suspicious.

But the police put themselves in a position without a crime being committed to take the life of a young man.

Now, these two dogs that got shot back to back, are we getting trigger happy?

I used to carry a bat for that purpose.

There was dogs in my neighborhood that would like to come at you.

Well, I took a bat and just whacked the heck out of one of them one day, that settled that problem.

I didn't have to shoot him.

He never came after me again.

As far as policy -- okay, sorry.

>> John --

>> I wanted to --

>> john duffy.

>> The police monitor absolutely has no power.

The police police themselves, that's ridiculous.

They need subpoena power, investigatory power.

I'm getting this from debbie russell from the aclu, texas.

They need to be able to hold an officer accountable when they take a situation from 0 to 90 in three seconds, that's what happened with all of these recent incidents.

Some form of policing the police is necessary.

Definitely going to be the wrong guy to talk to on the cops because I don't like them.

I typically think that if you look at every statistic, you find that there's a massive racial inequity there that it basically looks like racism is almost built into policing.

And into the judicial system.

So we definitely need ways to -- to work with communities of color in austin so we can -- so we can start bridging this gap where basically every act of violence from the police down on to the people is east of 35.

>> Bill spelman.

>> I guess that I am the right person to talk to about cops because I do like 'em.

I've been working with 'em more or less consistently since I started working as an adult in the late 1970s, I spent seven years working on a full-time basis with the national association of big city police chiefs and the university of texas ran an institute which trained 13,000 police officers in their neighborhood partners all over texas in the practice of community policing.


>> There's a bunch of little technical fixes we can do about profiling.

The more important issue to get the police officers out of the cars.

They are answering calls, writing up reports.

What they need to be doing is getting out of the cars, walking on streets, going to neighborhood meetings and meeting the people being policed and learning what their problems are, learning where the crime and disorder problems are, working with merchants, working with the neighborhoods to figure out what is collectively the police and community can both do to solve those problems, I think it's going to go a lot further towards solving our attention problem, our profiling problem than any of the little technical fixes.


>>> The council's expertise on police matters is renowned, which must make the last few years all the more frustrating to you as awful as they've been.

I think that we really need to examine the way police come to the determination that force is justified.

There's some ideas out there, there's the preservation of life provisions.

I encourage anybody within listening range to go ahead and look that up online.

Also a discussion about how do we get a more diverse police force.

What we really need is more diversity on the police force.

We have the highest paid police officers in the country when you figure in standard of living and yet a really large percentage of them don't even live within austin.

I think we should reexamine that.

I think we should more aggressively recruit latino and african-american police officers and I think we need to have another look at the way police come to the determination that force is justified.

>> Tina cannon.


>> Community policing is what professor spelman always brings up in his expertise in community policing as if to allude that the austin police department does nothing in community policing, I find that prepostrous.

They come to my neighborhood meetings, just as everybody else.

To act as if community policing is a new concept he's going to somehow implement in austin, that's going to right now.

As someone who has worn the uniform of public safety.

I stand with my brothers and sisters in public safety.

I'm not only outraged in the people of minorities as well as pets, but I'm also outraged at the abuse and killing of our recent officers here in town.

I think that it is a two sided coin and we need to be cognizant of feelings on both sides of the table.

I think the real issue in 15 seconds is we do need to encourage that diversity in our police force and that comes from not having police officers look like us, but really having police officers who have grown up in the city, creating a vocational program, a pipeline of training for police officers.

>> Thank you, david conley.

>> I have to say that I like -- councilmember spelman said about getting cops literally walking on the street.

As I made it clear, I'm a very big proponent of density and having less car dependent, a more walkable community.

I think that's true.

I think if we have that -- it's subtle but a direct connection.

With our own police.

That they -- you know, that they will -- they are on our side.

We should -- we appreciate that if we're there and communicating with them.


But as far as -- as far as the specific cases have gone on recently, I think that it's extremely sad, but i actually have -- I am encouraged by listening to chief acevedo that he's going in the right direction and re-evaluating what needs to be done, I feel like he'll probably be doing the right thing, thank.

>> Dom chavez.

>> I think there's a lot of strategies that were discussed here.

I think that it's important that, you know, we look at all of those things.

One thing that I want to address, I think we need to tone down the rhetoric on all sides.

These are all tough issues.

Every single one of these incidents should be investigated.

If a police officer broke policy he or she should be held accountable.

They broke the law, they should be held accountable.

When you have conversations with people posting on facebook literally hours after officer padrone was shot and killed, basically saying good, when you have people saying copses are trigger happy.

Listen, that officer who shot that dog, may have broke policy, we need to investigate that, but we also have to understand these are human beings.

It was less than 72 hours prior that they had to bury one of their own.

I take that very seriously.

One way we got to solve this problem is work together.

Tone down the rhetoric and find real solutions.

And stop blaming each other.

>> Now an opportunity to make a closing statement, starting with dom chavez.

>> Thank you again for this opportunity to address this group and to talk to the city residents of austin.

Again, my name is dominic chavez, I'm running for city council because as I said i believe we're a city of contradictions.

We have accomplished much, as I've said I have given credit to the incumbents where they deserve credit.

This economy is thriving, we are doing well.

I'm not concerned about now, I'm looking 10, 20, 30 years from now.

I'm worried about the affordability crisis building in this community particularly affecting working families and our seniors.

I'm worried about safety and making sure our neighborhoods remain safe and we invest strategically in cost effective ways in public safety, both fire, and police, most importantly, I'm very interested in making sure that -- that with he have a workforce that can meet our future demands.

That we invest in education.

That we rally this community to make sure our education system is strong in the future.

So again my name is dom chavez, I'm running for city council, early voting is APRIL 30th, I HOPE THAT I Have your support.

>> Thank you,.

>> Bo prudente.

>> The challenges of the future on these issues that we have discussed tonight, these are serious issues.

I don't think austin has faced these types of serious issues all at one time that I'm aware of.

Now, I'm sure each and every one of us up here that are vying for this position, one of us will get that position, I'm sure whichever one it is will do their very best to make sure that the right decisions are made.

So god bless whoever does it and god bless y'all for being here.

Thank you.

>> Thank you.

>> John duffy.

>> ON MAY 13th, I SUSPECT That I will not have been elected.

But that doesn't mean that my work for the people of austin will end.

It's my belief that true democracy actually happens in the streets.

I believe that true democracy happens on the porch steps and in the front yards across town.

I think that true democracy happens at the meetings atmosphere poder, texans for accountable government, i think it happens at the workers defense project and the orin center.

I think it's probably still happening right now on the steps out there while occupy austin decides best how to come to consensus on issues they're working on.

If you want to have true power, you have to reclaim it.

Don't think that just by punching a ballot that you can just walk away and leave our collective fate to the status quo mindset that will always operate on this dais.

We have a coal plant that needs shutting down, local schools need protecting, trees need planting, gardens need growing, homes in foreclosure we need defending.

Find me out there.

Thank you.

>> Thank you.

>> Bill spelman.

>> I'm running for reelection because I'm not from around here.

I'm from los angeles.

I grew up in los angeles, the first 20 years of my life there.

EVEN IN THE 60s AND 70s I saw it was becoming more congested, more expensive, less healthy and less of a nice place to live.

Every time I go back to visit my parents, they have since moved to austin, texas.

They are smart.

But every time I went back to visit them for years and years I found it was getting worse and worse and I'm running for reelection for the same reason that I ran for city council in the first place, because I don't want that to happen here.

It's an easy things for us to do.

If we take the lowest common denominator, make the same decisions that the vast majority of other cities have made when they get to be bigger and bigger, sprawl out in all directions, build roads as your primary means of getting around, we're going to have the same kind of problems that los angeles has gotten and the city is no longer going to be the place that I moved into.

Keeping austin weird ought to be more than just a semi cool slogan, it ought to be a key to survival.

We need to keep it that way and solve our own problems on our own terms.

>> Thank you, john rubine.

>> I just want to thank everybody, it's really been an honor to be here.

You know, I'm austin.

I'm what austin is.

We're what austin is.

We're not what la should have been, okay.

I work way too hard, I don't make enough and I do the best I can with my family where we live.

That's the best you can ask for.

All of these problems, all of these solutions, we all can work together to come to a conclusion on them.

But democracy, only 7% of registered voters voted in the last election.

And if -- if the solutions that are arrived at aren't democratic solutions, then we come into a situation that we have today.

With our city leadership which is not a good situation which they should be held accountable for.

Ultimately if the fact there's such a low voter turnout isn't an elephant in the room, there should be an elephant wanted sign out in front of city hall.

I wish that I wasn't the only one saying this, are we must increase voter turnout.

Elect me because that's what I want to do.

>> Thank you.

>> You are not alone, john, you are not alone.

>> Thank god.

>> Thank god.

>> I hope to be able to use my background in business innovation, financial accounting and audit to bring a unique voice to the dais.

I think there are definitely a number of challenges that we have identified facing austin, however, I believe there are workable solutions around these that both respect the -- the definite fact that we are going to grow as a city, but yet keep in context the culture of our -- of austin and respect the environment during that growth process.

I stand firm with 10-1, i stand firm with moving elections to november, i stand firm with bringing accountability back to city hall and empowering small business.

If you are interested in less lectures and more leadership, then I ask for YOUR VOTE ON MAY 12th.

>> Thank you.

And david conley.

>> Well, leading by example I think is the gold standard.

That's something that I want to see austin do for the rest of the country and for the whole world.

I think that we are very close to getting to the point where we can be leaders in proper energy use, in -- in supporting local local businesses better and supporting local communities better.

And -- and I think with the right infrastructure and the right policies in place we can do that.

And I think that basically if we have -- if we look at -- at all of the -- all of the infrastructure issues, that -- that we're overlooking in the new way, I think we can accomplish it.

I'm hoping that austin will become a place that will inspire antwan predoch to design right the first time.

Thank you.

>> Thank you all for coming tonight.

We really appreciate the candidates being here, all of you tonight.

We want to thank our sponsor, the austin ethics commission.

And we want to let you know that the voters guide has been published and is available.

It's on our website, we'll be on the city's website as well.

As the austin statesman.

And we would like for you to remember to remind people, which I'm sure you'll do, that the election is coming up early voting starts on MONDAY, THE 30th, AND ENDS On tuesday the 8th and again the may -- the ELECTION IS MAY 12th.

So -- so we thank you again for being here tonight.

[ Applause ] [one moment please for change in captioners]











>> candidates for city ..

>> We'd like to give you an opportunity to make an opening statement.

And we'll start with sheryl cole.

>> Thank you.

My name is sheryl cole.

I sit in place 6 and currently serve as the mayor pro tem.

I am asking for you to reelect me to city council for two reasons.

One, I've done a good job.

And two, I absolutely love it.

And I also have a vision for I recognize that we are quickly becoming two austins.

A very prosperous austin and then an austin that has a very vulnerable population.

And we have to do something about that.

We have to recognize that at least 50% of our teenaged pregnancies mirror that of the state average.

And also the dropout rate mirrors that of the state average.

I didn't get into politics the traditional way.

I got in because I was very active in my children's school.

I served as a pta mom and i also was one of the tri chairs of an aisd bond campaign.

And when I saw those bonds go through and know that leaky roofs, elevators and much needed repairs were going to happen in schools, I knew what government was supposed to do and I knew that we served a goal in strengthening community bonds and giving people what they wanted for government.

I've worked hard on transportation issues, affordable housing issues and economic development issues.

So I ask for your support on may 12th.

Please come out to vote and check out my website, sherylforaustin.

>> Thank you.

Shaun ireland.

>> Good evening.

My name is shaun ireland.

I'm a candidate for austin city council place 6.

I'm a native texan, eighth generation.

We have a wonderful city in austin, but I want to make it better.

And that's by following three principles.

Number one, repair infrastructure.

Two, 10-1 geographic representation.

And three, lowering the overall cost of living.

Infrastructure, we have parts of this city whose sidewalks are so decrepit that they're basically gravel and people in wheelchairs have to navigate the streets just to get to where they're going and that's shameful.

One thing I would like to see done is repair not only the sidewalks, but also our water mains.

Austin loses four billion gallons of water a year, not due to drought or contamination, or people running the faucet when they brush their teeth, it's leaking water pipes.

It needs to change, including all the transportation which you look at the situation in oak hill, 290, 71 intersection, which has traffic backed up on weak week daze.

10-1 Representation is coming up in the news and i am the only caudate in the race that wholeheartedly support 10-1.

We have to have geographic representation.

It is the number one plan to bring a truly diverse city council to austin.

And the third is affordability.

I say we should eliminate the sales tax from our electricity and water bills.

These take hundreds of millions of dollars out of the economy and raise the prices on small businesses and families who can ill afford it, especially in times like these f you would like to know more about me after these questions, please go to my website,

And I look forward to your questions.

>> Thank you.

We'll start the questioning with shaun ireland and it's a transportation question.

Two parts.

Are you in favor of a downtown you are ran rail system?

Why or why not?

And the second part, there seems to be a number of plans for downtown that would enhance the transportation in that area.

How would you address the needs for the rest of the city?

>> Well, I definitely think that it's a consensus not only in austin, but in the united states in general that buses and cars are not the way of the future.

I think a train system would be of great benefit to austin, but I think that currently we need to take care of the transportation that we already have.

I think that before we go and spend billions of dollars building a train line, we should just put system maps at bus stops.

That alone would increase ridership, increase rush hour frequency of buses on popular routes.

I have a friend who lives on brodie and william cannon and she has to decide whether she can show up for work a half hour early or half hour late because of the overcrowding of buses that arrive.

One thing I definitely think that downtown gets the lion's share of all funding, and I think that it's time for someone to stand up for the long neglected parts of austin and get those money to where they desperately need to go.

Downtown has good infrastructure, but I think it's time that we go elsewhere.

>> Thank you.

Sheryl cole?

>> Thank you.

Transportation is probably one of the most important issues facing our city.

And we make a mistake when we look at it in a vacuum, only thinking about urban rail for downtown as opposed to our need for a regional, multimodal system.

Our traffic problems really are illuminated on 35 and mopac.

And I think we have to recognize that a true vision for downtown must alleviate congestion on those two major thoroughfares.

We have not yet received any of the final numbers for the urban rail system, but i expect us to do that within the next four to six weeks.

I sit on campo, which is the metropolitan planning organization that includes several counties within our region.

And you simply have to look at all of the other jurisdictions if you're going to begin to make a dent in transportation problems.

>> The next question is affordable housing.

And we will start with sheryl cole.

What would you define as affordable housing in downtown austin?

How can austin become a city of mixed income levels without taxing citizens, especially our seniors, out of their homes?

>> Well, affordable housing is another of our great challenges.

As we've become a great city and lots of people want to come here, that puts a demand on our housing stock.

The question of affordable housing ranges the various income levels and typically we look at that in terms of zero percent to 30% of median family income, and that includes the homeless population, and many people in our vulnerable population, but also our waiters and waitresses.

And we have to have housing for them.

I championed a resolution that provided 350 affordable housing units for permanent supportive housing and i think that's very important.

I also recognize that the other income levels also need affordable housing, and the city provides in its -- in the municipality owned areas as well as transit oriented developments requirement for affordable housing downtown and throughout the entire city.

>> Shaun ireland?

>> I think that affordable housing, I think that every person in austin should consider their home affordable housing.

I think when you look at the fact that someone who's bought a house in the late 1970's for $80,000 like a gentleman I met on the campaign trail, he's owned the house out right since the 90's and yet he has to pay eight thousand dollars a year in property taxes just to stay in a home that he owns out right.

I think that we should cut down government -- city spending.

Extraneous city spending so that we can possibly lower property taxes in the future.

When we look at the current demand for affordable housing, it's supply and demand.

There are so many people, especially in this economic environment, that it puts such a strain on the resources.

And I support that we put a significant amount of the bond in the november election towards affordable housing.

And also one thing to make about affordable housing, we should make it a.d.a.


That's a big complaint is a lot of these homes are not accessible to people with disabilities.

>> Shaun ireland, what policies would you put in place to promote local austin businesses?

>> I think one of the ways that you can promote austin businesses is a shop local program.

There are a lot of those already.

And I think that if we were to give preference to local businesses and show them loyalty, and also when you want to look at -- I've been talking about infrastructure improvements.

That's going to cause a lot of construction delays and a lot of businesses may be inconvenienced by that.

And I would like to see a sales tax holiday for these affected business areas for the duration of construction of infrastructure.

One way that I would like to go into is a forum with local business owners because as a public servant, it's not my place to tell them what's best for them?

I would like to hear from the business owners, hey, how can we make your life better?

How can we have more investment in austin?

And take their best ideas and give them to city council.

That's what I would like to do.

>> Sheryl cole?

>> I fully recognize that 70% of our businesses in austin are funded -- our economy is funded by local businesses.

So they are critical to our economy and that's what makes austin, austin.

I sponsored a resolution along with councilmember spelman and councilmember morrison to actually enact lots of initiatives to help local businesses.

And one of the things it would do is to provide for a small business ombudsman, which would be a new employee that would work for the city, much like our environmental ombudsman does, and help promote and educate the public on what local businesses have to offer.

I also sponsored a resolution several years ago to make local businesses in certain commercial corridors have a website that -- where we informed people about their business and what they had to offer and special events that they were having.

So thank you.

>> The next question is regarding utility rates.

And we'll start with sheryl cole.

Austin energy's substantial rate increase is partially due to the lack of gradual increases over the past.

And instead using the reserve funds to avoid utility rate increases.

How would you manage to avoid a similar problem from happening over the next 10 to 20 years?

>> We have not raised energy rates in 17 years.

Our utility is owned by the citizens.

And that means that the profits from that utility actually go to our taxpayers and not to stockholders.

What we have to do is first and foremost have accountability by our utility for all the funds that they received and make sure that they are financially prudent.

We also have to make that utility solvent because approximately 25% of its revenues are actually transferred back into our general fund a and our general fund pays for public safety, parks, infrastructure and affordable housing.

Many of the things that we hold dear for austin.

And without a solvent utility, we simply will not be able to have those things.

I also recognize that we have received challenges from people outside the city who may want to take issues with our rates to the legislature, and we must be prudente in dealing with that.

>> Shaun ireland?

>> Austin energy does not have a revenue problem.

It has a spending problem.

Most of these programs that are included with this nine% stealth tax that is force odd to every single person whether they live in austin or in the outside communities who have no vote in who actually gets to decide their electric rate increase are forced to pay into this.

One of these programs is a 6,000-dollar awards ceremony for the chamber of commerce.

And you had to pay into that when you try to keep your home below 85 degrees last summer.

I think that if we were to eliminate the stealth tax we would be able to put so much more money back into the pockets of austinites.

When you look at the fact that also there's a waller creek tif forced on to people's utility bills that's $60 million.

And if we go audit austin energy and find five percent in savings, that's $50 million.

That right there is 215 million dollars' worth of savings alone.

And that's -- you want to talk about helping small businesses and families?

Have that kind of a stimulus program.

Have them keep more of their money.

Austin needs to go on a diet.

We spend too much money on wasteful projects.

>> Shaun ireland, which of the several proposed district plans for electing city council do you favor?

How will you go about implementing the one you favor?

And do you favor an independent citizen's redistricting commission?

>> Thank you for this question.

I absolutely support 10-1.

Not only did the city charter review committee, , austin tejano democrats, south austin democrats, but almost every other group that you possibly think of supports 10-1.

Nobody supports a hybrid.

8-2-1 Is not going to work.

The status quo is not going to work either.

Neither one of the city councilmembers lives south of the river after 45th street.

That's got to change.

I would show real leadership that has lacked in city hall and I would say 10-1 is going to go on the ballot this november.

It's failed before, but it's never been on a presidential ballot initiative and that's one way to increase voter turnout for participation on this.

I absolutely do support a citizens charter review committee.

Currently there's an attack on that and I think that we need to have citizens draw the map.

I'm running for office and I'm telling you right now i don't want the power of drawing maps.

That's up to you citizens.

It would give the map more legitimacy and it would be more beneficial for it to be drawn up by citizens and not politicians.

>> Sheryl cole?

>> Thank you.

I absolutely favor an independent redistricting committee.

I am sponsoring an item tomorrow that will create an independent advisory committee.

The idea with that resolution is to begin governing early.

Because we have decided, most councilmembers publicly, have we're going to put an item on the ballot for single-member districts, whether it's the 10-1 plan or some other composition.

And we simply will not be able to complete all the work that has to be done through the justice department if we have an election in november 12, and be able to have an election november 12th of 2013.

If we have an election of november 2012 and be able to have an election november 2013, unless we begin to do the process of finding the people to serve.

So that item will ask the city auditor to begin a lengthy public process to determine 60 people who may potentially serve and then narrow that list down.

Thank you.

>> This question is regarding the environment and we'll start with sheryl cole.

It's a three-part question.

Considering the projected growth rate of austin, which is expected to double in the next 30 years, what do you think is the best solution for our projected water needs, especially considering future droughts?

Are you in favor of increasing fees for heavy users of water and electricity?

And the city has depended on the transfer of funds from austin energy to the city budget.

Do you think it should continue?

Why or why not?

>> Any growing city, including austin, is going to face major issues with water.

And we see that throughout the state.

And especially when it comes to the fact that you can't predict a drought.

I do believe that we have to charge people who use more, more.

And that is what we currently do.

But we also have to emphasize water conservation.

And I served on the water conservation taskforce and put in many of the items that are out now, and that is just part of the process of being good stewards of our water supply.

The austin energy transfer into the general fund is approximately 25% of its revenue.

And it's important to recognize that that goes for public safety, for parks, for affordable housing, and we simply would not be able to raise property taxes or depend on volatile sales taxes enough to make up for that revenue.

So I do support the transfer.

>> Thank you.

Shaun ireland?

>> Like I i said in my opening statement, we lose four billion gallons of water due to negligence and lack of leadership in city hall.

We should be spending our resources repairing those pipes rather than figuring out more ways to charge people for that lost water.

I believe that the transfers from austin energy need to stop.

People should not have to pay into government largess every time they turn on a light switch.

You look at the fact that more money goes towards vanity projects, like waller creek or formula one, and these -- apple incentives, but when you want to say let's make electric bills just cost for the generation and transmission of energy, they say we'll hold the parks hostage, we'll hold the police budget hostage.

Parks, police, civil government, sanitation, after school programs are not at risk.

It's the special interest, that material city hall looking for a free lunch.

That will end if you end the transfers.

>> Shaun ireland, according to residents of east austin, and that includes northeast, east central, southeast, their side of town has been neglected in almost every aspect of city government for years, despite their attempts at advocacy for things like infrastructure, transportation, affordable housing and many other needs.

How do you propose to include these citizens in planning and implementation of needed improvements?

>> Austin, more than probably any other part of the city -- not to specify the issue, but to the infrastructure situation in east austin is so dire.

And we need to put resources into east austin immediately.

When you look at the fact that the city council would rather find ways to ban plastic bags rather than making people's commutes easier if they're disabled or putting storm drains into formula one, but not in neighborhoods, you have to look at -- also into access.

One of my opponents' major campaign bundlers is the vice-president of the consulting a and design firm behind waller creek and that's a really big puzzle piece when you're trying to figure out why sheryl cole wants to spend $60 million on a downtown vanity project while east austin rots into the ground.

>> Sheryl cole?

>> I believe that east austin has been seriously neglected.

We implemented a program and the city manager championed it titled accelerate austin, which basically accelerated many of the projects, most of the projects in east austin, especially roadwork and infrastructure work, and that has already began and will continue.

We made a decision to protect the environmentally sensitive lands in west austin and grow the city east.

And when we made that decision, it is imperative that as we make that growth, that we provide the infrastructure to do that.

I have had community forums and had different meetings with different community leaders about several issues facing east austin.

Many of which have involved concerns about the infrastructure.

So I think that work is continuing and of course we can do more.

>> This is the final question of the evening.

And it's regarding police accountability.

Young people of color, other citizens, and now dogs, have been killed by the police.

Some in the community are more outraged by the killing of dogs than human beings.

What policies will you initiate to address this problem to protect our citizens in this community from racial profiling and excessive use of force by the police?

Sheryl cole?

>> Since I have been on council we have faced several racially charged incidents involving officer shootings.

Those are painful times for our entire community.

The first one was kevin brown, who was shot at chester's in a police chase, and both the police and the neighborhoods came to me and said we must do something.

This is an after hours bring your own bottle establishment.

Working with legal we combed the nation to find an ordinance that eventually resulted in chester's not operating any more because of the restrikes that we put on and a more peaceful, safe neighborhood.

We have to look at racial sensitivity training, we have to support the police monitor's office, and we have to educate the community.

I recently held a community dialogue in connection with texas relays talking about racial profiling and helping students.

>> Shaun ireland?

>> I understand very much austin minority communities and dog owners are very wary of the apd.

But I would like to say that I have spoken to middle and upper class white families who are nearly terrified of the austin cops themselves.

So this goes across all racial spectrums.

would benefit by us finding out exactly what their training is and showing that to the people of austin.

What are you trained to do in this situation?

I think that just showing people and having some sort of a basis to understanding these incidents would go really far in helping 's image as public servants instead of something to be afraid of.

I would like to also say that I also do not support 's involvement with these upcoming military exercises with the united states military.

I think that we've mill tar rised our police enough and I will stand strong on that.

>> Now we'll give you the opportunity to make closing comments, starting with shaun ireland.

>> Thank you.

It's been a pleasure speaking with you tonight.

When you look at the issues that are facing austin, in your own neighborhoods and in our own lives, that can best be solved by having someone from your neighborhood on city council.

That's why I support 10-1.

I'm the only candidate in this race that will support 10-1 and see it on the ballot in november along with november even year elections and a citizens, a citizen's mapping community.

Do not put it in the politician's hand and we should have the city council be able to vote yes or no.

You can count on me to be the candidate of -- the city councilmember of infrastructure.

No one in this race speaks about infrastructure as much as I do.

I think we need to prevent austin from decaying even further and making quality of life that the taxpayers' deserve and that the citizens of austin want.

I know you may have support mid opponent in the past, but I think the new public servants and new ideas must take priority on may 12th and you can count on me to be a good public servant and a good steward for the austin taxpayer.

I welcome your support and i ask for your vote.

Thank you very much.

>> Sheryl cole.

>> I want to thank the league of women voters for this event and recognize your historic role in helping women to be educated on the issues.

And I also want to thank all of the citizens of austin for giving me opportunity to serve them.

There are some major issues on the horizon.

And you need a person who has an economic vision for austin.

We are currently beginning discussions about a medical school and a teaching hospital that may be located on waller creek that would really revitalize our entire community.

I've worked hard on economic development issues, but i also appreciate the transportation issues and the fact that if we could cut 10 minutes off of your commute going and coming, that's an extra 20 minutes that you would have to answer text messages, bathe the kids and go to the pta meetings or neighborhood meetings and that's important to strengthen our community bonds.

And you need a leader who can bring people together on tough issues, and that is what I have done.

Vote sheryl cole for austin on may 12th.

>> Thank you.

[ Applause ]

>> and there's more city council races, I think, that are coming in -- I'm just kidding.

Time to go home.

>> The league of women voters would like to thank all the candidates who have chosen to participate in this forum and also thank the sponsor, the ethics review commission.

The austin league of women voters nonpartisan voters guide will be published in the "austin american-statesman" on sunday, april 29th, the day before early voting begins, and will be available on our org, as well as the "austin american-statesman"'s website and the city of austin's website.

It will also be available in the public libraries.

One last reminder from the league of women voters, early voting begins monday, april 30th and ends tuesday, may eighth.

Again, the election is saturday, may 12th.

Be sure to vote and take a neighbor or friend along to vote also.