AUSTIN (KXAN) – The people wanting to represent you in Austin’s city government will run their races like never before. November’s elections in Austin will look different as the makeup of city council changes. Instead of at-large council members there will be ten distinct districts. Only the mayor will be elected city-wide, and a new candidate jumped into that race.
Steve Adler, an Austin attorney, officially launched his campaign for mayor Sunday.
“I think this is a historic election, because the government system is changing,” Adler said, “Cities don’t get the opportunities to have a white board, to rethink their government culture, and we have one of those opportunities here.”
Adler joins Mike Martinez, who has been on the Austin City Council since 2006. Austin businessman and musician Todd Phelps has also announced his candidacy, and local tech entrepreneur Randall Stephens is also running.
Council Member Sheryl Cole is undecided about running for mayor, but has told KXAN she is strongly considering it. Council Member Laura Morrison announced in March she will not run.
The job of the mayor may also evolve under the new single-member district system. Under the new system, city council members will be elected from 10 geographic districts.
The mayor may play a larger role in balancing the interests of those districts with the interests of the city as a whole. The mayor will still be elected by citywide election.
Ann Kitchens launched her race for City Council District 5 Saturday.
“We really do need single member districts because we haven’t had equitable representation from the different communities in Austin,” said Chris Corsbie, an Austin voter, “All the races in the single member districts are going to be very interesting, because they all have different needs.”
Council Members Kathy Tovo and Chris Riley are the only current council members who will run for a council seat again. Thursday, May 8, is when all candidates can start spending and soliciting money. Candidates can’t officially file for races until July 21, so more changes to the ballot could happen.