Austin City Council Election Profiles: District 9

Isiah Jones is challenging incumbent Council Member and Mayor Pro-Tem Kathie Tovo.  Jones never responded to our requests for an interview for our candidate profiles.

Linda O'Neal is a high school teacher.  Born in Vietnam, she moved to Austin in 1975.

"I love it here.  It's always been for me, a diverse city, a creative city, a working-class city and it's not exactly like that anymore," O'Neal said.

O'Neal says if you want to make Austin affordable you have to provide opportunities for people to put down roots.

"I believe in at least a purchase program where people can earn equity in the rent after 15 years and then use that equity to buy a home.  That's how you build a community, when you allow people who have lived here for a long, long time to purchase a home," she said.

Next up, Danielle Skidmore.

"My name is Danielle Skidmore, I'm a 24-year resident of Austin. I'm a transportation engineer, special needs parent, I'm an out and proud transgender woman," Skidmore said.

Skidmore says it's time for new leadership in the district.

"Personally I'm super excited about being the first transportation engineer ever on the Austin City Council but I think Austin, the 11th largest city in America, we have to finally embrace public transportation.  We have to go big on public transportation that works for all of Austin," Skidmore said.

Mayor Pro-Tem Kathie Tovo says District 9 needs experienced and effective leadership.  If she's elected this would technically be her third term.  She says there was uncertainty on whether she could run again because she served on the old at-large council and on the first 10-1 council.

"Just to settle the question I did a petition.  I had about 80 volunteers in addition to some paid canvassers throughout the district, throughout District 9 collecting signatures and received nearly 5,000," Tovo said.

Tovo is proud of her work on bringing the Sobering Center to Austin and the effort to end community homelessness which is what she wants to keep doing.

"Looking for innovative solutions, increasing funding, really re-designing the services that we offer at the ARCH downtown.  That's a critical component.  Making sure that we're looking throughout the community at ways that we can place services in other places of the city so that people don't need to come downtown to be served," Tovo said.

If you'd like to see the full District 9 candidate interviews, click here.

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