As the race for state representative in Central Texas-area House District 19 heats up, a five-year city council debate has emerged as a point of contention between Republican candidates Ellen Troxclair and Justin Berry.
The Austin Police Association, in a statement endorsing Berry (their former vice president), the officer union accused Troxclair of “[cutting] a deal with the far-left [Austin City Council], and walk[ing] out of a vote critical to securing police funding.” Specifically, the APA states the vote in question occurred in December 2018. In leveling this charge, the police association implies Troxclair’s support for the “defund the police” movement.
The date in question makes it difficult to address APA’s assertion. According to City of Austin records, the council held one meeting in December 2018, and that meeting’s agenda featured only one item related to police staffing. Troxclair co-sponsored the effort.
However, in a separate Twitter thread, former APA director Dennis Farris updated that their attack was actually referring to a 2017 vote.
During December 2017, Troxclair joined her council colleagues in voting to continue negotiations to a preliminary version of a proposed labor agreement between the city and police union. Troxclair’s vote was due to what she believed were fiscally unsustainable benefit and pension commitments contained in the early rendition of the contract. Troxclair supported a later iteration that trimmed back the fiscal commitment.
In assessing Troxclair’s vote, it’s important to remember that it occurred in 2017. “Defunding the police” was a 2020 phenomenon. Troxclair left the council in 2019 and opposed defunding the police as a private citizen.
The police association’s current attack is attempting to confuse slowing the growth of spending with a “cut,” a fiscal sleight of hand frequently employed by public sector unions.
“This is dirty politics by the Austin Police Association,” Lori Granados, president of the Central Texas Republican Assembly, told Texas Scorecard. “’Defund the police’ is a national movement that came to town almost two years after Ellen Troxclair left office. To equate her advocacy on behalf of taxpayers with the former is gross.”
The race is also notable because Berry and Troxclair were former coalition partners, endorsing each other just a couple months ago, when Troxclair had been running for Texas Senate and Berry a different House seat. However, after legislators recently finished re-drawing the state’s district maps, both candidates ended up switching to compete for the newly created House District 19, which spans five counties from Fredericksburg to Burnet to the far-west Austin area.
The Texas GOP primary will occur some time in 2022.