Success By 6 hosted eight Austin City Council candidate forums in settings all over Austin to learn more about the candidates’ views on issues affecting families with young children. More than 40 of the 78 candidates participated in the non-partisan, positive conversations, and dozens of community residents took the chance to ask questions and learn more about the aspiring civic leaders.
“My faith in democracy soared as I participated in these forums. The candidates were thoughtful, warm, and well-informed – and they truly want to serve their communities. After the elections, I plan to stay in touch with not only the new council members, but also with the cadre of amazing candidates who didn’t win. It is inspiring to see and hear their passion about our beautiful city and the neighborhoods they live in. I wish I could vote for more than one!” Sue Carpenter, VP, Success By 6.
When Austinites head to the ballot box this fall, we will be making decisions that will dramatically shake up the leadership structure of our community. Not only will we be electing a new mayor, but our influential city council will have at least nine new members – with one representative for each of ten newly formed districts. The council makes crucial decisions about how our city is managed and how to spend our precious tax dollars. Our goal for the forums was to learn more about each candidate – many who have never run for office before – and to share information about the families and services in each district.
Prior to each forum, candidates received packets of information about children and families in their districts and Austin as a whole. These packets included information on income data, the average cost of child care (which equals the cost of UT in-state tuition), and information about the city’s current investments in early childhood services. This information, along with an informal forum format, set the stage for highly interactive and collegial forums.
Most of the forums were held in empty classrooms in child care centers located within each district. Parents, teachers, early childhood advocates, community members, and children were among those who attended. Amidst artwork and Lego creations, candidates were queried about their backgrounds, their hopes for Austin, and their ideas about the role of the city in supporting families and children. Many candidates discussed their own children or childhoods, and how those formative experiences guide their decision-making today.
The candidates’ ideologies range across the political spectrum, but common to all candidates were concerns around Austin’s affordability, transportation, and public safety. Each candidate also expressed strong support for core services for families, such as safe parks, vibrant libraries, and accessible child care options. However, the candidates differed considerably in their thoughts on how these services could and should be funded. Several candidates proposed public and private partnerships to increase child care accessibility, while others suggested a more active city role.