Austin City Council feeling ‘blue' after saying goodbye to Council Members Houston and Troxclair

The Austin City Council is turning “blue” next year.  

It’s a non-partisan job but sometimes those colors (red and blue) shine through.

The final Austin City Council meeting of the year was also the last curtain call for Council Members Ora Houston from District 1 and Ellen Troxclair, District 8. They chose not to run for re-election.

After receiving Distinguished Service medals from the city, Houston and Troxclair's colleagues honored them with their words. Something viewers at home might not see but those who frequent City Hall do, Council Member Houston often walks away from the dais after a particularly impassioned speaker to talk to them and seemingly offer words of comfort.

"...but also in a place where they were obviously hurting.  You were our emissary in those moments and in so many other ways," said Mayor Steve Adler.  

"I've had an opportunity to go to various role model days in your district and I always start by showing them a picture of their city council and the students, no matter what the grade or what the elementary school, they always recognize you because you," said Mayor Pro-Tem Kathie Tovo.

Houston, never afraid to lighten the mood, pointed out this was starting to sound like a eulogy.

Ellen Troxclair was the council's lone conservative voice for the past 2 years.  Mayor Adler pointed out that role hasn't been easy and praised her for demonstrating you can rise to the highest levels of leadership in a community and still start and care for a family.

"It's something that we have all watched and admired but again for my 3 girls and for me personally has really hit home because it's been an important message," Adler said.

"Sometimes you would say things and I would be like 'totally disagree' but at the same time I was so proud of you for having the courage to do that.," said Council Member Garza.

"4 years ago I set out to make sure that Austin was a city that people could afford to live in and I feel like I've been that voice," Troxclair said. 

"I tear up if I talk too long about it.  There's some parts about this job I'm going to be skipping and hoping to get out...but there's some things that I think we lose a voice on the council," Houston said.  

Troxclair often found herself on the losing end of votes.  But plenty of times Council Member Houston was right there with her on votes like "paid sick leave."

"For many years people expected me to vote a certain way because I looked a certain way and I had certain experiences growing up in a segregated community," Houston said.            

And now with the incoming council members, the council will be all Democrat.  

"It's unfortunate because I think we set up a paradigm where it's just like the national and the state level when we've already chosen sides and we're going to stick to those sides rather than being open and available to the people that have different opinions," Houston said.  

"I would just encourage the City Council to continue to be open to viewpoints that are different from their own and…don't spend all the money!" Troxclair said.

District's 1 and 8 will welcome Natasha Harper-Madison and Paige Ellis in January.

As for Houston and Troxclair, Troxclair says she's going to stay involved: she's starting an organization called Alliance for Affordable Cities. Houston says she wants to travel the country by train.