Austin City Council candidate profiles: District 10

Incumbent District 10 City Council member Sheri Gallo takes pride in being a taxpayer advocate. She supported increasing the homestead exemption and took the lead on increasing the senior exemption.

"You know I actually voted against the budget this year. Because it was going to increase the property taxes and it was going to increase the utility bills," Gallo said.

Dr. Alison Alter -- business owner, neighborhood advocate and former university professor said it's important to listen to the constituents.

"What we're finding is Council Member Gallo is representing the developers very often rather than the neighbors.  And this is really important because in District 10 some of the big issues that we're facing are zoning case after zoning case," Alter said.

One of those zoning cases is "The Grove at Shoal Creek" -- a 75-acre mixed-use PUD that not everyone in District 10 is happy about. Gallo says she is a neighbor and does represent neighbors.  She says she doesn't work for the developer.

"I want the parkland to be superior.  Affordable housing, I want us to get affordable housing in these developments.  I want us to get better environmental controls," Gallo said.

A big issue for CPA Rob Walker is the $720 million mobility bond.  He'll be voting "no."

"Less than 1/7th of it goes for traffic congestion relief.  And if the whole build-out is figured in, that's $1.7 billion, that means 1/17th is for traffic congestion relief," Walker said.

And Walker says he doesn't want to be a nay-sayer for nothing.  He's already got a new bond plan in mind if he gets elected.  One that includes money for traffic relief and flood control.

"I'm proposing an alternative, it's called the 'Traffic Relief and Flood Control Bond.'  It will be a $500 million bond, it will be paid for out of our city's current bond capacity so it won't raise taxes," Walker said. 

Both Gallo and Alter support the mobility bond. 

"Austin has not made investments in our transportation infrastructure in decades and we feel that every single day when we sit in traffic," Alter said.  "Is it perfect?  No.  Will it get us moving more than we are now?  Yes.  Is it a down payment on the next stage?  Yes."

Nicholas Virden will be voting "no" to the bond as well.  The recent UT grad says it was rushed through council and won't do enough to actually improve roads.

Virden says he'll work to keep taxes low, make sure Austin startups have a good regulatory environment and help Austinites afford to live here.

"I can't really afford to rent anywhere in Austin because it's just so expensive...even making an okay salary like I am, I can't really afford to rent close to where I work," Virden said.

Another big issue for Virden -- updating the city code.

"Make sure that we can actually build offices, apartments, housing in places that it's currently restricted.  And we need to make it easier -- it takes about 228 days to get a permit now on average when the statutory maximum is 120 days to get all your permits for building and stuff like that," Virden said.

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