Austin mayoral candidates debate issue of poverty

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Wednesday afternoon candidates for Austin’s mayor will debate the issue of poverty in the city. An estimated 166,000 residents live at or below the poverty line. The United Way for Greater Austin is hosting the debate and thought the issue of poverty was just as important as taxes and transportation because 1 out of every 5 residents is struggling to make ends meet.

Five of the eight mayoral candidates have agreed to attend the debate: Steve Adler, Sheryl Cole, Mike Martinez, Todd Phelps and Randall Stephens.

The United Way’s Board Chair Catherine Morse will moderate the debate and said affordability for things like child care and early learning is at the heart of preparing kids for a bright future. Morse said it’s important to hear where the candidates lie on the issue concerning after-school programs and early childhood education because investing in early intervention programs can change where funds are spent down the road.

“If we invest in children, particularly poor children when they are very young, we are going to get better outcomes,” said Morse. “We are going to spend less money down the educational pipeline, and that’s good economic development.”

The debate happens from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar Boulevard. Tickets are $10 and are available online. About 300 people are expected to attend.

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