Conservatives went one for two in Tuesday night’s important runoffs for two Austin City Council seats, with the win taking out a Democrat ringleader of the city’s recent far-left turn.
In District 6, Challenger Mackenzie Kelly upset incumbent Jimmy Flannigan 52 to 48 percent, while in District 10, incumbent Allison Alter barely survived against challenger Jennifer Virden, winning 51 percent of the vote. Both districts are in the northwestern part of the city.
Tuesday’s results cap a contentious year-long local debate over homelessness and public safety. In 2019, the all-Democrat council made it legal for homeless individuals to camp and stay in nearly all public spaces throughout the city, sparking a wildfire of public backlash, safety risk, and a subsequent increase in the city’s violent crime. Numerous law enforcement and elected officials warned against the decision, and over 114,000 citizens signed a petition calling for the council to reverse their ordinance.
Then, in 2020, the council exploited the George Floyd tragedy to gut funding for the city’s police department, cutting a whopping one-third ($150 million) from their budget and spending it on other government programs. In doing so, the council made Austin a poster child for the national “defund the police” movement. Subsequently, homicides have increased by 64 percent, while other forms of violent crime have seen double-digit increases.
The tragic—yet predictable—consequences of these policies converged in last week’s brutal murder of a homeless man at an encampment Texas Scorecard previously documented.
Pro-public safety political action committee, “Fight for Austin,” released the following statement after Tuesday’s election:
Tonight’s results were a resounding rejection of the city’s direction.
We are thrilled that Mackenzie Kelly has unseated Jimmy Flannigan, who has chaired the Public Safety Committee and has been the architect of the city’s efforts to defund the police & pass the camping ordinance, both of which have manifested harmed public safety. Mackenzie ran on restoring public safety for our city, while Jimmy defended the homeless camping disaster and the reckless $150 million police budget cut.
Incumbent Alison Alter appears to have narrowly won re-election despite running against first-time candidate Jennifer Virden, having the support of the third place finisher and holding a significant financial advantage. Jennifer ran a great campaign and we were proud to support her.
Austin residents sent a clear message tonight. Stop the insanity. Restore public safety. Put taxpayers first. Save our city.
The Mayor and the City Council need to listen. The next election will be here before you know it.
Also of note: While Flannigan and Alter both repeatedly voted to raise taxes and supported the police defunding effort (with Flannigan even suggesting to demolish the police department’s downtown headquarters), Alter opposed the city’s homeless policies. Given that record, for Alter to survive while Flannigan lost speaks volumes about how Austinites view the city council’s destructive homeless decision.
Mackenzie Kelly will be sworn in as a council member in early January.