There was a large turnout at last night's North Austin Coalition of Neighborhoods candidate forum. According to one of the candidates, it was their largest forum to date. Present were the Mayor and all of the current council members up for re-election and their opponents, a total of 10 candidates in all. For many of us, it was a great opportunity to meet the new candidates for the first time and learn a little about their positions on city issues. Each candidate was given time to answer three of the five following questions given to them in advance followed by questions asked by the audience. The questions the candidates were asked are:
- Briefly state what your top two priorities will be if you are elected.
- What specific initiative or initiatives would you champion for our neighborhoods that would reduce opportunities for crime?
- Do you support including funding for the recommended transportation improvements found in the North Lamar/Burnet Road study in the 2012 bond package? Why or why not?
- What specific initiatives would you recommend or endorse to bring the infrastructure of our neighborhoods up to the high quality and standards expected by Austin citizens, and
- Panhandling is a major problem in our neighborhoods. What solutions have worked in other cities, and what would you propose for Austin?
Some came prepared. Others, not so much. One of the audience questions had to do with efforts to move away from an at-large election system to a single-member approach. All of the candidates support making the move to a single-member system. I am not an expert on the matter but judging from the limited familiarity the candidates had with North Austin concerns, having a council member or two representing the area would be a good thing. Some of the other topics discussed inlcuded public subsidies for economic development projects, traffic/transportation, affordability, and the proposed city rate hikes for electricity and water.
Time was up before the candidates could get to all of the questions from the audience however they were offered the opportunity to submit their answers in writing. Their responses will be posted to the North Austin website: www.lovenorthaustin.com.
If you would like to catch a candidate forum, there is one scheduled for next Wednesday, April 25, 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. put on by the League of Women Voters. The forum will also be broadcast live on Channel 6 and replayed multiple times, and will also be available on demand at www.austintexas.gov. You will find more information about this upcoming forum here: www.lwvaustin.org.