2022 Midterm Elections: Austin Mayor race

Austin Mayor Steve Adler is term-limited and unable to run for reelection. 

The new mayor will serve a shortened two-year term due to the passage of Proposition D in 2021 which scheduled mayoral elections in Austin to coincide with presidential elections.

As of 12:12 a.m. Nov. 9, Celia Israel and Kirk P. Watson are expected to go to a runoff as neither candidate has earned the 50.1% necessary to win outright.

Below is a look at the candidates.

Phil Campero Brual

Phil Campero Brual was raised and educated in South Austin at James Bowie High School. In a post on his website, Brual writes:

"I was raised and educated in South Austin at James Bowie High School. I have two wonderful mothers and an amazing father who is an immigrant from the Philippines, all of whom are deaf and taught me ASL. I’m a renter here in Austin, sharing a two-bathroom duplex with four roommates. I work three part-time jobs, as well as a legislative internship at the Texas State Capitol. Additionally, I'm studying Government and History at UT Austin."

"I have researched legislation, constitution creation, and party demographics on both local and national levels. Many of these issues often compare to what we see in Austin today, both in legal affairs and demographic changes. My work at the Texas Capitol allows me to keep an eye on the state and city-wide issues across multiple departments. Combined with my City Council attendance, I stay informed of the whirlwind of changes that Austin faces. Through my experiences, I have quickly and efficiently built my knowledge and understanding of politics, allowing me to skillfully tackle any conflicts that arise."

Brual says he's running "to represent the real people of this city as a born and raised Austinite" and that he endures "the same struggles as you do, and I am motivated to solve them."

Celia Israel

Celia Israel came to Austin in 1982 at the age of 17. In a post on her website, Israel writes:

"I was a young, gay Latina stepping out into the world for the very first time. I graduated from the University of Texas, served in the Ann Richards administration, met the love of my life, became a realtor, and later, a member of the Texas House of Representatives." 

"This city forged me into who I am today. I find energy in Austin and power in its people. Diversity is our strength. We share ideas and fight injustice through our activism. We are always ready to lend a hand to our neighbors in need. Our city vibrates with opportunity and excitement as each one of us blazes our own path."

"That path feels increasingly out of reach for the people who make Austin unique. Our city deserves a mayor who works for the people who live here and who build the city around us: our teachers, construction workers, students, public service workers, artists, musicians, technologists, developers, and so many more.

"We can’t be a city that attracts billionaires while simultaneously pushing working people to Bastrop and Buda. We need a city that invests in the people who live and work here." 

"We have this opportunity to break up the status quo and accomplish our shared vision for this great city. We can make housing more affordable, so the people who drive our economy can put down roots in the community they serve. We can make our community safer and healthier by strengthening our safety nets and investing in our people. We can make it easier to get around town by building a world-class public transportation system." 

Kirk Watson

Kirk Watson is looking to return to the position that he held when he was elected Mayor of Austin as a 40-year-old. 

Accomplishments Watson lists on his website during his first stint as mayor include launching the SMART Housing program, the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and the Mayor’s Challenge Fund and passing an unprecedented bond measure to safeguard thousands of environmentally sensitive acres of land, expand Austin’s greenbelts, and protect treasures like Barton Springs.

He lists housing, affordability, and transportation as the main issues on his website. Watson says he's "running for mayor this year to ensure that the city — effectively and equitably — addresses the range of issues that will define our future."

Watson graduated from Baylor University and ranked first in his law school class at Baylor Law School.

Kirk and his wife, Liz, have been married for 42 years. They have two adult children, Preston and Cooper. Both attended Austin public schools. Preston and his wife, Catherine, have two little girls–Effie, who is 4 years old, and Birdie, who is almost 1. 

Jennifer Virden

Jennifer Virden is a native Austinite and attended Anderson High School.

She attended UT-Austin and graduated in 1991 with a BBA in Finance. She worked at Dell until 1993 when she had her first child.

In early 2002, she started her current real estate and construction business.

Virden writes on her website:

"My love for Austin and my desire to lead in successfully addressing these challenges are why I’m running to be the next Mayor of Austin. Unlike most who serve on our City Council and are running for Mayor, I bring 30 years of business and management experience with me. I understand the challenges faced as a resident of Austin and as a business owner. It is the lack of experience and the lack of competent, common-sense leadership that has permitted our most serious problems to grow."

"As your next Mayor, I will work to strengthen the local economy while pursuing policies that address the rising cost of living in Austin. We will finally solve the Austin ISD recapture problem and ensure our city is as nurturing to our children as it has been to us. We will make Austin better by prioritizing the safety of our city and its residents. We will provide leadership that looks to the future and will make City Hall better serve the public that elected us."

Gary S. Spellman

Gary Spellman was born in Massachusetts and is the co-founder of Ultimate Face Cosmetics. He relocated to Austin in 1997 and has a wife and a son.

Spellman writes on his website,

"Our current political climate promotes a mentality of "us versus them" when in reality the majority of Americans find themselves underrepresented and lost in the middle, unable to identify with some extreme and polarizing views on both sides of our two party system. When we get the community involved, bring together the true experts on our cities’ most pressing problems, and troubleshoot realistic solutions, we can achieve meaningful change and progress."

"That’s why it’s important for me to represent those that don’t see their values or priorities confined to strict party lines. My campaign is based on two pillars: critical thinking and accountability. We have to give voters an option of a purple party and an alternate choice that breaks down the silos to have dialogue that helps keep the city of Austin accountable for all citizens and inclusive of all voices."

Anthony Bradshaw

Anthony Bradshaw's campaign slogan is "Lets Make a Better Austin".