I Endorse Vincent Harding for District 1 City Council Member

For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Genoveva Rodriguez
Email: Genoveva@oraatx.com
Phone: 956-551-0887

 Incumbent Ora Houston Endorses Vincent Harding for District #1

Austin, Texas - City Council Member Ora Houston announced her endorsement for District #1 Candidate Vincent Harding during a press conference Monday morning at Country Boyz Fixins on E. 12th Street. In June Houston advised that she would not seek re-election.

"What makes Vincent my choice in this crowded field? He listens, he has a wide range of experiences, and he is courageous," said Houston. "In some ways Vincent is much more experienced than I was 4 years ago.”

In November 2012, the voters of Austin approved a charter amendment that transitioned City government from years of at-large representation to 10 district representatives. The Mayor is elected by all voters. Houston is the first individual elected in 2014 under the change to district representation.

"I am grateful and honored to have been trusted with the opportunity to serve the 'blended family' of District #1. Many amazing City employees are part of the family. It is complicated to describe my experiences over the past four years in simple terms. Parts were all consuming - ’eight days a week, 24/7‘, complex, complicated, and very rewarding," said Houston. "I am eager to return to my spontaneous self and travel."

After four years of serving District #1, she is proud to say that one of her greatest accomplishments was the ability to form relationships with the 'blended family' throughout the district. Individuals who have very different views about the role of city government and encouraging them to be part of the process. She hopes that the community has the confidence to speak up and feel like they will be heard by their elected officials.

"I am confident Mr. Harding will continue to encourage constituents to speak up and get involved in the policy discussions that impact the district and the city." Houston added, "The people of District #1 held me accountable for four years, I am confident that they will do the same for Mr. Harding."

"How do voters hold elected officials accountable - VOTE on November 6th! Vote for your council member, vote for our mayor, and remember to go down the ballot to vote on the Propositions."

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I have decided not to seek re-election

Dateline Austin, Texas – June 13, 2018

Council Member Ora Houston, Decision Made

Austin, Texas - Council Member Ora Houston, District #1, has decided after months of personal discernment and conversations with confidants, that she will not seek a second term on the City Council.

"It has been a joy, privilege and a huge responsibility to represent the 'blended family' of District #1," said Houston. "Over the next seven months there are major issues to address and votes to take which will impact our City for generations, and the individuals who live here now and in the future."  

"The council must make equitable decisions on the land development code and associated chapters; the adoption of the FY 19 budget; the contents/amounts to include in the 2018 Bond Proposal to be voted on in November; the possibility of placing changes to the City Charter on the same ballot; and assuring that 'justice for all' is accountable, transparent, unbiased, effective, and affordable."

Council Member Houston will focus on executing the responsibilities as the  representative of the District and will continue to support the City to not lose sight that all planning, transit and infrastructure, must be inclusive of the outer edges of the City not only the center city.

The future for her will be a blend of a lot more personal time with opportunities for continued activism and citizen engagement.

"For three years, five months and 8 days (but who’s counting), I laid a foundation of listening to the people, of civility, and approachable through many important transitions that were outlined in the State of the District, on June 9th. I will continue to represent all constituents with integrity, vigor and compassion until my term ends. As I am fond of saying, "This is an 8 day a week job, 24/7."

What's next? Council Member Houston adds, "Time to unclutter my home and look forward to checking off my ABC list - Alaska, Belize and Cuba. Please be assured that I will not become a slacker, I will remain an active, inclusive and civil voice in the City I call home: Austin, Tejas!"

 

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"The State of District 1" is "in transition"

On June 9th I delivered the "State of District 1" address  in the Boyd Vance Theater at the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center. I am honored to be the first Austin city council member from District 1. 

The district was created to give our neighborhoods – all of them - a voice in city government. The district’s voice is a combination of the council member – me - and the engaged residents of the district - you.

The State of the District video

Introductions to the State of the District video

City Council Should Let The Voters Vote - on CodeNEXT

CodeNEXT is a major rewrite of Austin's land development code. It will effect every city resident - renter and property owner. The people of Austin used their right of petition to allow voters to approve CodeNEXT or any such major revision. City Council should put that measure on the November ballot and let the voters vote.

At this press conference on May 24, I was joined by Council Members Pool, Alter, and Tovo as well as Fred Lewis of Community Not Commodity, Nelson Linder of the NAACP, and activist Lauren Ross, to explain why council should let the voters vote.

The press conference is a total of ~16 minutes and is in two parts:
May 24 "Let The Voters Vote" Press Conference - Part 1
May 24 "Let The Voters Vote" Press Conference - Part 2

I support the Episcopal Church’s opposition to Texas Senate Bill 6

I want you to know why I support the Episcopal Church’s opposition to Texas Senate Bill 6, also known as “the bathroom bill.” All people are entitled to respect, fairness, and equal protection, regardless of race, creed, gender, or sexual orientation. Everyoneshould be respected by our neighbors and peers, and certainly by our elected government.

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry and The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies, sent a letter to Joe Straus, Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, praising his opposition to the bill. Bishop Curry and Rev. Jennings explained the Senate Bill would force the church to face the “difficult choice” of moving the Episcopal General Convention from Austin this July.

Their letter explains the Episcopal Church is “proudly diverse: racially, economically, and in terms of sexual orientation and gender identity … We are duty-bound to ensure that all of our people are treated with respect, that their safety is guaranteed, and that our investment in the local economy of our host city reflects our values …” The letter notes that the Church moved the General Convention from Houston in 1955 because the Texas city could not offer sufficient guarantees of desegregated housing for its delegates.It is our humane obligation for each of us to give equal respect to all people we meet and encounter in our daily lives.

I served as a lay deputy to three prior General Conventions. I was elected to those positions by the people of the Diocese of Texas. I am proud of the position the church has taken today and I support that position.

I wanted you to know where I stand, as a private citizen and member of our community; not just as an elected official.

Voters approved the GO Big Bond

Austin’s voters decided that the GO BIG Mobility Bond is how they want city hall to address the congestion in our city. I will work constructively to implement the proposals in the Bond to address the increasing transportation and development needs we face.

The Bond allocates resources to complete some studies, engineering designs and construct sidewalks and bike lanes in District #1. I will work with the residents of the District to prioritize those resources to address the needs of the district.

 I will also work to:

1.    ensure that the needs of commuters, individuals who use mobility devices, pedestrians, and bikers are addressed,

2.    structure the Bond’s proposals and measure  them by their effectiveness in reducing traffic congestion, and

3.    mitigate the impact of those proposals on property owners, renters and local businesses which contribute so much to Austin’s unique character.

Our way forward is clear. We must work together, as outlined in the Bond, to reduce traffic congestion in Austin.

 

Thank you for Attention! Go Vote NO!

I have voted “no” on Prop 1, because it will make traffic worse, it costs too much, its impact on property taxes is unknown, and because it wasn’t defined in the spirit of 10-1. I will continue to work with the community and council to define effective actions to address traffic congestion in our fair city.

My “no” vote on the Transportation Bond is based on 5 objections. I hope you will consider them:

1. “Makes Austin’s automobile traffic worse”
2. “Financially flawed”
3. “Flawed process created a flawed proposal”
4. "Damages Austin’s local businesses and Austin’s unique character”
5. “District #1’s needs are not considered”

Finally, please, no matter your position on the bond, remember to “go down the ballot” and vote your preference on the “GO BIG” transportation bond.

My Last, But Definitely Not Least Reasons Why I'm Voting No On Prop. 1

These are the last days to vote early before the November 8th election. Please remember to go "down the ballot" to vote your preference on Prop. 1.

Here are my final two reasons why I'm voting no on Prop. 1.

4) Damages Austin’s local businesses and Austin’s unique character – The Corridor Improvement Projects will force closure of our local businesses and turn those properties over to real estate developers. Austin’s character is rooted in the small local businesses.
 
Let me give an example – East Austin's iconic El Azteca Restaurant. I want to share what happened to El Azteca. 
 
El Azteca has been an iconic restaurant on the East Side for 53 years. I know the owners, the Guerra family. I’ve eaten at their restaurant for decades. Their business was severely impacted by what looks like one of the “Corridor Improvement Projects.” For months, street construction disrupted traffic on 7th St., restricting access to the restaurant. Then their parking was reduced by street “improvements.” Street improvements are similar to the “new mobility” principals in the Bond proposal. 
 
As a result, Austin lost a family business and I lost a favorite restaurant. What will be built on the property? Perhaps, luxury living units like the ones being built on E. 6th Street.
 
The "GO BIG" Bond will duplicate what happened to El Azteca throughout the city. 
 
5) District #1’s needs are not considered – District #1 has specific transportation needs, just like each of the 10 new council districts. The "GO BIG" Bond’s approach of “one size fits all” does not fit in District #1.
 
I don’t claim to have a complete list of District #1’s transportation needs or the solutions, but I'd like to have the opportunity to consult with experts, individuals who live in the district and transit experts.
 

I open to ideas from the communities that are impacted and experience Austin traffic problems and needs first hand.
 
These are my 5 reasons for voting “no” on the "GO BIG" Transportation Bond proposition.
 

I hope you'll join me, and many others, in voting "NO" ON PROP. 1.

 

My 3 Top Reasons Why I'm Voting No on Prop. 1

1) Makes Austin’s automobile traffic worse - Managing automobile traffic is Austin’s most pressing transportation problem and the Bond will make traffic congestion worse. 
 
The projects outlined in the Bond proposal will increase congestion by removing existing turning lanes as well as the center turning lane (a.k.a. “chicken lane”) on many main thoroughfares. Automobile capacity will also be reduced by creating more bus-only lanes on arterial streets during peak traffic times.
 
The Bond proposal does not address transit options for commuters before they drive into the city.
 
2) Financially flawed – The real costs of the "GO BIG" Transportation Bond are unclear, the property tax impact on Austinites is unknown, and this bond proposition comes really close to using up all of Austin’s borrowing capacity. 
 
The work described in the Corridor Improvement Projects is a key example of how unclear the Bond’s costs are. City staff stated that just the make-over of the corridors will cost triple the claimed amount: $1.5 billion versus the $482 million in the Bond proposal. 
  
The impact on individual taxpayers is unknown. Property taxes will go up to pay for the Bond, but by how much? Supporters of the Bond state an increase by $5 per month. Opponents of the Bond, an increase will be more than 5 times that amount. 
 
Honestly, I don’t know the tax impact. 

 

The Bond is a poor use of Austin's borrowing power and comes really close to using up all of the borrowing capacity. It's important to make sound fiscal policy decisions for things that justify a property tax increase. I don't believe this Bond is justifiable.
 
3) A flawed process created a flawed proposal – The "GO BIG" Bond is an “old Austin” proposal. By that I mean the proposal is rooted in the at-large council districts. I was a member of the grassroots coalition which worked to establish 10 geographic council districts. The at-large system was flawed because most of Austin was under-represented when decisions were made. The center-city decided what was best for the entire city. 
 
The "GO BIG" Bond was defined in much the same way, limited input from some council districts, no input from other districts, and a “one size fits all” approach to Austin’s varied neighborhoods. 
 
The voices shaping the Bond were limited. The Bond was designed by a “coalition” of organizations, advocacy groups, and individuals but was not inclusive. 
 
Let me not forget to mention that the definition of the Bond was rushed. The Bond was defined and designed in 6 months. The City’s usual practice is to allow 12 to 18 months before putting a Bond before the voters. 
 
The separate proposals in the Bond are bundled together unnecessarily. The Bond bundles 3 or 4 distinct proposals into a single “all or nothing” decision.
 

Thank you for listening.

I Am Voting No On Prop. 1, Let me Explain

I have voted “no” on Proposition 1 - the “GO BIG mobility bond” - also known as the “Transportation Bond.” As council member for Austin’s District #1, I voted to not support the bond when it was presented to us at city council. I want to explain my reasons and I hope you’ll listen to them.

The "GO BIG" Bond is an “old Austin” proposal. By that I mean the proposal is rooted in the old at-large council districts. I was a member of the grassroots coalition which gave Austin our 10 geographic council districts. The old at-large system was flawed because minorities were under-represented and because center-city decided what was best for everyone else.

You have to decide your position on this important issue. No matter your position on the bond, please remember to “go down the ballot” and vote your preference on the “GO BIG” Transportation Bond.

My “no” vote on the Transportation Bond is based on 5 objections:

  1. “Makes Austin’s automobile traffic worse”
  2. “Financially flawed”
  3. “Flawed process created a flawed proposal”
  4. “Damages Austin’s local businesses and Austin’s unique character”
  5. “District #1’s needs are not considered”

I will continue to explain in detail each of my reasons as we near election day, November 8th. Please consider why so many people feel as I do.

VOTE NO on ‘GO BIG’ Mobility Bond

I will be voting against the 'GO BIG mobility bond' proposal. Please allow me to explain why.

When I ran for office to become a member of the first 10-1 council, I did so to stop the top down manner in which decisions were made by the at-large councils. I am dismayed that the $720 million transportation bond that will be on the November ballot, is the product of ‘the way things have always been done.’ The process was not inclusive. The process was not transparent. This proposal was conceived by an ‘exclusive group of power brokers’ in Austin.

We do not actually know what the total cost of the bonds will be or what the cost will be to individual taxpayers.  We have figures from staff that indicate double the amount that is on the ballot. We have no information about what it will cost taxpayers in District #1. In addition, this plan will increase congestion not lessen it because of plans to reduce vehicle travel lanes from 6 to 4 or from 4 to 2 on major streets and doing away with left turn lanes on major corridors.

There has been immense pressure on the Council to ‘do something really big’ in an incredibly short period of time on many fronts in Austin, including this bond package.

A typical bond process can take up to 18 months. This proposal was conceived in six months. The largest ‘general obligation’ (GO) bond package in the history of Austin, should have been developed with input and agreement from ‘regular individuals’ who live and work in the city. A proposal of this magnitude should be the product of a more inclusive, thoughtful and thorough process to limit the unintended consequences.

I am dismayed by the unwillingness to compromise on priorities in very different geographical areas, the amount of the bonds, or allowing the taxpayers of Austin to vote separately on which proposals they are willing to support. Standing up for my district is not “ward politics”, it is my duty and the very reason we voted for 10-1 - to allow each geographic area to be included in the decisions at city hall. The process for this bond package is in direct conflict with the vision of 10-1.

I want the public to understand the real numbers related to this bond are huge and will impact homeowners and renters for years to come. According to Assistant City Manager Robert Goode, just the makeover of the corridors, $482 million, will cost taxpayers $1.5 billion in spending. We are not only rushing this decision; we are also voting on incomplete information being fed to us - I’m not biting.

I respect Mayor Adler and his ability to be a creative thinker. His legal mind and skills serve the people of the City of Austin well, as does his demeanor. I appreciate his values regarding social justice and equity. However, the Mayor and ‘the coalition’ that met to develop the bond proposal must understand that I am a person of integrity – I will not be bought, bribed or bullied. The fact that congestion is a major problem in the City of Austin and the region, is no more or less of a problem than Austin’s road to being unaffordable for so many of the people who call our city home. I firmly believe it is sound fiscal policy to insure that our borrowing is for things that justify the impact on our property taxes.

As the duly elected representative of District #1, I had no input regarding the priorities, regional mobility, corridor mobility, local mobility (which includes modes of transportation) or the dollar amounts of this massive proposal. The buckets were decided for me. If given a choice, in addition to sidewalks and transit, I would have placed funds in a bucket to partner with CapMetro for rapid transit on 969. I believe all Austinites should have been given the option of voting on 3 or 4 proposals, not a proposal that forces voters to take an all or nothing approach.

The demographics of my district are wonderfully varied. I took an oath to represent individuals on fixed incomes, renters, wisdom keepers, homeowners, the wealthy and individuals who are barely hanging on. Taxpayers must know the fiscal impact prior to going to the polls. (Remember the ‘medical school tax’ election that raised property taxes?) If there is a miscalculation after the bond passes it will be too late to do anyone any good! Not revealing the real cost of this bond and the tax impact is a violation of the trust the people of District #1 put in me when I was elected! Please take time, between now and November 8th, to get all the information you can about this bond.

The League of Women Voters will release a voter’s guide on October 23rd for the November 8th elections. Information regarding the Pros and Cons of Prop. #1 will be included. Get a guide and decide for yourself whether the cost of the bond is justified by the projects planned and the limited impact on congestion. Most importantly, be sure to go down to the end of the ballot and find Proposition #1 – make your voice heard.

I hope you will join me in voting Against Proposition #1.

“ YOU HAD THE POWER ALL ALONG” - Glinda the Good Witch, Wizard of Oz

glenda2 (1).jpg

Seven months ago, I stood before a gathering of friends, neighbors and strangers and asked for their support to become Austin's first City Council member for District #1.

Together, we  worked hard to achieve that goal! Look at what WE  accomplished!

December 16th was the second historic and beautiful night in the neighborhood!

From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank everyone who participated in the process. I know you love this district, this city, and the people who call it home as much as I do.

I am honored and humbled by the confidence you have placed in me. District #1 is home to a 'blended family' composed of a mosaic of cultures, income levels, beliefs, ethnicities, ideas, educational achievements, languages and interests.

Now our task is to identify our shared goals and affirm our uniqueness while moving Austin forward in the most inclusive way possible. I know we can do it.

I want to acknowledge and thank the eight candidates who also offered themselves to serve the public. I know they sacrificed much of their personal and professional lives to run for City Council to make sure people had options.  They are talented people who care deeply for this city. I look forward to working with them as we begin this new journey.

We must work together. Changes are necessary, they are possible and yet, I can not do it alone, I still need your help.

I challenge individuals, organizations, advocacy and trade groups to look for intentional opportunities to work with 'others' whose position might be different. We have lived in silos for long time; it’s time to dismantle them and work as allies. We must identify core values for the city and work together for solutions.

To my parents, O.H. Elliott and Thelma Elliott, whose call to activism and service to this community runs through my veins, I am eternally grateful. To the staunch supporters and pioneers who laid the foundation for this election and who are now part of that great cloud of witnesses, your efforts and spirit will follow me as I take on the challenges of this new role.

I am so very grateful for the hard work, perseverance, and commitment of the members of Team Ora and countless volunteers and shareholders – THANK YOU!

Soon, my second home will be at 301 West Second Street, City Hall – the hall of the citizens – come visit sometimes. Even so, y'all know where I live. The house my parents built in 1954. You know my phone number, if you leave a message and a phone number...I will return your call.

I will not forget who I am; what our common goals are; the hopes and desires we have for our City; and how important it is to listen to the people.

I dare not step into this awesome new adventure without you.  If you are interested in serving on a board or commission, please send me your contact information.

There will be a steep learning curve before the 'official swearing in' on January 6th. With your help, I am ready.  WE are ready!  Our work begins NOW! On January 10, 2015, at Noon, everyone is invited to attend the 'District swearing in' at St. James Episcopal Church, 1941 Webberville Road, 78721.

Have a Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Holiday Season that is filled with joy, good health, safe travel and peace,

Ora

 

No Public Endorsement for other races

Since May, I have focused on the District #1 race and have not been public about my personal preference in the Mayor's race. Supporters have brought to my attention that some people are linking my race with one of the mayoral candidates.

These innuendos are not true. I have not publicly endorsed either of the candidates in the run off for Mayor -- or any candidate in the other districts. Regardless of who is elected Mayor I will work with them, on behalf of the people in District #1, to make all of Austin a more livable, equitable, employable city.

In Peace,
Ora Houston

Inspiration From a Friend

When all else outside of our being appears to fail, the ONE thing we can do is LISTEN.  I know this to be true and this was  a great reminder……

Take some time today to listen. There are many ways you can do this and all of them will enhance your life.

Today, listen to those who are talking to you fully. Become present with their entire being, not focused on their clothes, hair or even the observation about the sound of their voice. Listen with your full being to what they are expressing. Shut down the mechanism that is preparing a response while they are still speaking. Don't interrupt your hearing of them with preparations to speak yourself.

Listen to your mind, or better yet observe it. What is your mind doing through the day? It may not be convenient to do throughout so take some time to sit in meditation for 15 mins or more and become aware of what thoughts your mind is running through. As you move through your day periodically look at the thoughts moving through your mind as you are engaged in your day. What is your mind's response to the casual moments in your day?

Listen to your heart. Take time and feel down into your heart, into the emotional well of your being. What does your heart have to tell you today? How is your heart doing? Take a moment and be with your heart and just listen; it will speak to you. Here are are not going up into our mind and intellect, we are going down into our heart, into our emotions and actually opening to our feelings.

Listen to your body. Is your body trying to get your attention? Is it calling for a bit more of your attention, your time, your thoughtfulness? Is your body communicating something it wants you to do or to stop? Throughout the day tune into how your body feels.

Don't simply dismiss the things that you notice. Your mind, heart and body are three aspects of your being that are always communicating with you. And whether you are listening to them, another being or Spirit, be available to truly hear what is being said beyond words.

-Jason Mitchell

Happy Thanksgiving from Team Ora!

We are all thankful for special things in our lives. Here are a few words from Team Ora:

Matt Harvey:
During this time of of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my dear friends and family above all else. I am also thankful for the unique and occasionally crazy political family I have gained while working with Team Ora. We have all come from different walks of life, and I am so thankful that I have had the opportunity to learn from each and every one of you. And at this particular moment, I am thankful for the Pumpkin Spice latte that's keeping me caffeinated and working hard on the campaign trail.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!
Matt

Genoveva (Geno) Rodriguez:
 I am thankful for my family and friends that have always supported me. I am especially grateful for the new family I have gained while working with Team Ora. I am one lucky gal! (I'm also very thankful for pumpkin pie and whipped cream!) Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

God bless,
Geno

Ms. Ora Houston:
I am grateful for many people, know and unknown; and things, small and large. However, this Thanksgiving I want to give thanks to a special group of people we never see, those who work over night in all kinds of capacities.  

I give thanks for people who work while we sleep. Thank you for the work that you do. Help us to remember that our common life, our humanity, depends upon each other's work, including those who work at night. 

In peace,
Ora

 

Have a happy thanksgiving and be safe!

Call to Action By: Hugh Mayfield

HBCU call to action to all veterans, registered voters, Alum from Texas Southern University, Alum from Huston-Tillotson University and Alum from Prairie View A&M University.

I am asking you to vote for Ora Houston, candidate for City Council District #1. Early voting starts on December 1st and ends on December 12th. You can vote at any location that has a ‘vote here’ sign. You can vote, even if you did not vote on November 4th.

As a veteran, registered republican, and Alum from Texas Southern University, I fully support Ms. Houston and her vision for a better and prosperous Austin. She attended Dillard University and graduated from Huston-Tillotson University. She continues to be an active alumni, sharing her time and treasure with HT.

I have been involved in city government, served as Former City of Austin Environment Board member, Vice Chairman for the Flood Plane Task Force and Solid Waste Advisory Commission, and I know the effort and desire that exists in the heart of someone who chooses to serve their community.

Ms. Houston is one of a kind who is mindful of and sensitive to the diversity of people and the challenges 'real' people are exposed to on a daily basis.Her service to the community is undeniable and her passion for her neighbors is indisputable.

She has taken the time to explore, investigate and analyze the issues in our city and commits to bringing everyone to the table to work together and find the best solutions.

My request if you are reading this is: Please support Ora Houston and vote on December 1st when early voting begins, or on election day, December 16th.

-Hugh Mayfield

 

My Endorsement, By: Evie Nichols (11 years old)

Hi, 

I am Evie Nichols. I am 11 years old.

Ms. Ora Houston is running for city council in district 1. I think she would be good for this spot because she represent all the needs of all the people in her neighborhood. Another reason she would be good for this spot is because she is fair and honest. She would never ever tell a lie in her entire life.

She is fair because she would not take sides when two people are arguing. I think Ms. Houston is the most experienced person running for city council in her district. She is super nice and will always try to make fair and right as they should be. She is very smart and will always find a way to improve things. She will always speak her mind not what other people tell her to think and sometimes she will agree with people and sometimes she won’t agree with people.

That’s why I think Ms. Ora Houston would be right for the city council job. 

But I am not saying that the other person running for city council is bad I am just saying that Ms. Houston would probably be better.

Off and Running, By: Ora Houston

Six months ago, I stood before a gathering of my friends and neighbors and asked for their support as I officially announced my intention to become the first city council member for District #1.

Together, we worked hard to achieve that goal! Look at what WE accomplished on November 4th! Over 6,000 friends and neighbors voted to make that goal a reality - we fell a few votes short - so now we kick start our campaign for the election on December 16th.

To those who didn't get a chance to vote, or voted for someone else, I look forward to getting to know you.

I want to thank everyone, from the bottom of my heart, who voted in this historic election. I know you love this district, this city, and the people who call Austin home, as much as I do.

The history of my activism in this city demonstrates that I am not part of the status quo. I have always been a public servant, not a politician. My goal has been - and will continue to be - to bring the reality of 'regular' folks into the decisions and the solutions made by city government. There are many unintended and negative consequences when everyone doesn't get a seat at the table and it is time to change that.

We have a common goal to develop an Austin that is prosperous for the collective. In order to reach that goal, we must be aware of the history, (of our growth) as we actively work in the present to create a future that is unique and inclusive. We must create space for all people to participate in the conversations and decisions which affect the quality of their lives.

We are a 'blended family' composed of a mosaic of cultures, income levels, beliefs, ethnicities, ideas, educational achievements, languages and interests.

We MUST work together.

From the beginning of this process I have listened as you have shared your hopes, dreams and concerns regarding a variety of issues which city government has not dealt with effectively. You know the list:

  • escalating property taxes (residential and small business);

  • unplanned growth;

  • working class jobs and job training in the district;

  • quality education for our children in the public schools;

  • workforce housing all over Austin;

  • ending traffic congestion downtown;

  • an efficient bus system throughout the district and the city;

  • a sense of community and peaceful neighborhoods;

  • add your issues to the list.

Changes are necessary and they are possible as we move forward in a more inclusive and planned way. Yet, I cannot do it alone. Everyone must continue to be engaged in the process.

We have a bit further to go, (but not too far.) Early voting begins December 1st.

This is not a rest stop. This is an energy break before full steam ahead to December 16th.

I am so very grateful for the continuing hard work, perseverance and commitment of the members of Team Ora. Without them I would not have been able to make it this far:

  • Jonathan Panzer

  • Matt Harvey

  • Genoveva Rodriguez

  • Sunny Ogunro

  • Charlotte Moore

  • Jonathan Clarke

  • Aaron Clay

As well as all of the energetic interns and every single one of the hard working volunteers.

Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU!

In Peace,
Ora

 

Outside Money, By: Roxanne Evans

Why would folks from New York City be interested in trying to influence the outcome of an Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees election in East Austin?

It is part of a troubling pattern of influence by the alleged reform movement that is pushing charter schools, vouchers and privatization. The benefactors who gave us Teach for America have created Leadership for Educational Equity. Leadership for Educational Equity claims it is dedicated to “empowering Teach for America corps members and alumni to grow as leaders.”  It wants to grow leaders such as David “D” Thompson, a candidate in the District 1 trustee race. He has received approximately 40 percent of his campaign donations from out of state. This makes one wonder who he would listen to, were he to get elected.

District 1 residents want a trustee who will listen to us. And, for more than 40 years, District 1 residents have developed a solid track record of electing strong, representatives without outside influence. 

  • In 1968, former State Rep. Wilhelmina Delco became the first African American elected in Travis County when she was elected to the Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees.  
  • District 1 voters also elected the late Rev. Marvin C. Griffin, the iconic pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. He served the community and the school district well by being a steady hand when the school district was in the first phase of desegregation. 
  •  The late veteran educator Bernice Hart was elected by District 1 voters. Her legacy is still felt in the school district, and a Northeast Austin elementary school bears her name.
  •  Loretta Edelen, daughter of Wilhelmina Delco, and a strong education advocate on her own.
  •  Current trustee Cheryl Bradley was also elected to the District 1 seat without outside influence or guidance

There is much work to be done in District 1. The remedy for District 1 public schools needs to be crafted by a District 1 trustee in concert with District 1 families. New York equity firms and corporations need not apply for this work.

District 1 does not need outside interests telling us how to vote, or who to vote for. This district has done well electing its own and it deserves to be able to keep that electoral autonomy.  

A New Day in Austin, By: Genoveva Rodriguez

The Tuesday after the first Monday of November. 

For many it's a Tuesday like any other, but for people who have been working for months or years toward the 2014 Election, this Tuesday means so much more.

It is the goal, the destination, the conclusion, or grand finale. It is the end. 

Many friends and family do not understand why I choose to work in politics or on campaigns. Truth be told, sometimes I'm not sure either. The hours are long, the work is tedious, and quite often things are on the brink of a nuclear meltdown. Yet, there are so many others out there who do this day in and day out.

It takes a certain kind of person to want to do this work or volunteer to do this work. (Yes, some do this work for free.) You can describe these people as ambitious and driven, but I think the most genuine ones are those who are humble and compassionate as well. Overall, it takes people who have a passion for humanity and the greater good.

I know some may say that not all politicians are in it for the right reason (and you are probably correct), but sometimes there is magic in the air and you find the ones who are doing it for all the right reasons and you just can't help to continue working as hard as we sometimes do.

It is so hard not to be drawn in when you meet a candidate, a campaign manager, a team of volunteers or a family that is invested and working toward the betterment of a community or city. It's pretty awe-some when you work in this field long enough and find many of those amazing people. I can see why others do this over and over again when it's the right person and the right time.

The Tuesday after the first Monday of November has been election day for more than 160 years. And for more than 160 years, people made efforts to campaign for the best candidate and travel to the polls in groups to vote for said candidate.

So, while it will be just another Tuesday, just another election, just another day to some, for many it's the day we've been working toward. The bitter end regardless of result because it means that we have given and left so much of ourselves out there on the field that we will never get back, but was well worth it.

Always vote because it is your voice. It may be your only chance to be heard.