If a Democrat-run local government enacted a Democrat policy already proven to harm citizens and make officials politically vulnerable, you’d think they’d change course or at least distance themselves from that issue.
But for Austin city officials, apparently not.
As campaign season heats up for Austin’s Proposition B, a pivotal May ballot question to decide the hotly contentious vagrant camping issue, the local Democrat establishment appears determined to bury its head deeper in the sand.
At issue is the Austin City Council’s controversial 2019 pro-vagrancy decision, when the Democrat-run council made it legal for homeless individuals to camp in nearly every public space throughout the city (except for city hall, notably).
The council’s action sparked a swarm of new tent cities, a drastic increase in the city’s homeless population, a more dangerous public environment, and a wildfire of public backlash. Violent crime subsequently rose by double digits, with homicides up 64 percent year over year in 2020 and continuing to rise so far in 2021.
Even Democrat Mayor Steve Adler recently admitted what they had done wasn’t working.
Furthermore, citizens this year successfully submitted a petition with over 26,000 signatures to city hall to force a public vote in May on the camping question. “Yes” on Prop B would restore the city’s original vagrancy camping law, while “No” would leave the current tent city climate in place.
Earlier this week, a coalition of the usual Democrat suspects in the Austin-area Travis County politics—including the mayor—announced their opposition to prop B, and thus support of the chaotic status quo:
This week’s announcement follows a report in the Austin American-Statesman that said every Democrat member of the city council (ten out of eleven) was supporting the status quo to allow the lawlessness to continue. The sole exception was Republican Mackenzie Kelly, who was elected in 2020 largely over the vagrancy issue.
The announcement is particularly mystifying for Councilmember Kathie Tovo, who originally voted to keep the public camping law. Tovo’s mayoral ambitions are the worst kept secret at city hall, and had she supported Prop B she could have positioned herself as the leader of the sane faction of local Democrats. Instead, she’s chosen to follow the party’s furthest left factions.
Early voting runs from April 19 to April 27. Election day is May 1. Austinites should brace themselves for the dirtiest campaign in the city’s history.