AUSTIN, Texas - District Seven is nestled in the West and Northwest parts of town. Leslie Pool sits in this seat.
Pool declined an interview with FOX 7 Austin this week due to a busy schedule.
Pool previously spoke with FOX 7 Austin on one of the big topics of this year: police reform. Back in the summer when the council made the decision to cut the budget by more than $20 million, she also recommended some cuts related to certain parts of the department.
“Basically, this is all aligned to respond to the community's concerns. But I really want to make a strong point here. We are not sacrificing community safety,” she said in July.
Pool hopes to eliminate unfilled positions, cut the overtime budget, mounted patrols, and possibly some parts of the bomb squad just to name a few. She said this summer to FOX 7 Austin that it is a response she hopes helps end police brutality.
“Are there portions of that that we no longer need? Are we looking at training with military-grade weapons that really don't happen here?” she said in July.
Her only challenger, political newcomer Morgan Witt agreed with the council's budget cut decision.
“It's not defunding it was like divestiture and restructuring. I think it was a good start. Can we invest in the community, essential services and things that help keep people healthy and well to prevent crime? I absolutely 100 percent agree with that. Do we need to reimagine how we think about public safety and how people interact with the community? Yes, I 100 percent agree with that as well,” said Witt.
Witt has a background in education, and in an interview with FOX 7 Austin on Friday, stressed the importance of tackling affordability in Austin.
“I was very surprised to find that with three degrees and as a teacher, I qualified for 60 percent MFI affordable housing. What I have seen Austin turn into is a city where middle-class people cannot afford to buy a home and we are getting to the point where they can't afford rent either,” said Witt.
Witt believes creating better affordability requires a change in the land development code.
“We are not building enough housing because of our outdated land use code. It's older than I am. It was designed with the specific intention of preventing growth. We need to ease zoning restrictions so we can get back to building duplexes, fourplexes, and apartment complexes in our neighborhoods,” she said.
A native Austinite, Witt said the city wasn't always like this. “I remember my dad telling me that he used to live in those duplexes in some of those central neighborhoods because they were being built and they were affordable when he first moved here,” she said.
With the pandemic, Witt expresses concern for vulnerable populations. “They are very self-reliant and sort of coming together to provide these materials and this support and relief for their own communities. It shouldn't be that way it should be with direct partnership with the city,” said Witt.
She expresses concern for the heartbeat of Austin: live music venues. “They are saying we are not looking for a handout. We are looking for a way to support ourselves long enough so we can rethink the way we do our jobs,” said Witt.
District 7 voters have a choice between two very different people..Leslie Pool who holds the seat, and has an advocacy background...and Witt who holds a teaching background. Both describe themselves as progressive.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.