Working-class Austinites have even more reason to be concerned for their wallets after Tuesday’s city council runoff election.

On Tuesday night, the three open city council seats were finally filled, the most notable being the District 8 seat. Paige Ellis defeated Frank Ward with 56 percent of the vote.

The race was critical because it was the last remaining seat that had a chance to be pro-working class, filled by a candidate who would support lowering taxes on Austin families; but that didn’t happen. Ellis, who works for an environmental consulting firm, was endorsed by numerous Democrat clubs and city council members and has not supported allowing working Austinites to keep more of their hard-earned money.

On the other hand, Ward, a public relations consultant who has helped grow a small business in Austin, was outspoken about his top desire to help solve affordability for the citizens who need it most.

“What matters is who’s going to fight to get property taxes under control,” said Ward. “With the trajectory we’re currently on, property taxes will double in the next 10 years.”

Out of the 26 combined city council candidates and current elected members, Ward was one of only two who openly advocated lowering property taxes. He was endorsed by a variety of organizations, including the Austin police and fire unions as well as the Austin Board of Realtors.

The election signals a troubling shift for many citizens: the city council is now unanimously progressive, which will have costly implications for hardworking Austinites. Not only did none of the newly elected council members support lowering property taxes, but all of the incumbents have already voted to take more money away from Austin families.

Until this election, there was one voice on the city council that fought for lower taxes. Council Member Ellen Troxclair, the outgoing District 8 representative, constantly urged the council to relieve the property tax burden and get rid of the tangled web of fees and mandates which has stifled prosperity and affordability in the city. The council hasn’t listened for the most part, but Troxclair was able to manage a few small victories for Austinites by bringing slight tax relief through the homestead exemption.

However, with Ellis’ win Tuesday, there is no longer even a single pro-working class voice on the council.

Austinites will now have to be even more vigilant to contact their council members about important tax decisions. Otherwise, their affordability crisis will get even worse.

Jacob Asmussen

Jacob Asmussen is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard. He attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and in 2017 earned a double major in public relations and piano performance.


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