“We are becoming an elitist city where only the wealthy can live,” she said in the announcement. “I will support housing policies that will help families live here and they will help seniors age in place.”
Israel criticized the city’s zoning laws that “make it very difficult to build new things.”
“Not every family can get through the bureaucracy that is the City of Austin.”
She then voiced support for Project Connect, the $7.1 billion and rising light rail project approved by voters in 2020.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Israel said her campaign’s biggest issues are housing and affordability, public health and safety, and transportation and mobility. Israel was joined by her colleague state Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) and other community figures.
Asked about public safety, Israel called for more police reforms the likes of which the city has already initiated in the last few years.
Israel announced she would not seek re-election to her House seat back in September, stating she was mulling a run for the city’s mayor. Current mayor, Steve Adler, is term-limited. Israel has served in the legislature since 2014.
One of the most progressive members of the Texas House, Israel was part of the quorum break last summer but eventually returned to the legislature for subsequent special sessions.
Israel was a mentee of former Governor Ann Richards, having served her as a staffer.
Other candidates mulling a run for the position are former state Sen. Kirk Watson, who also used to be mayor, and City Councilwoman Kathie Tovo. Already declared is Jennifer Virden, a 2020 candidate for council who lost by a narrow margin.
While a hot spot for transplants, the City of Austin has no shortage of issues on its plate. The city blew away its previous annual homicide total in 2021 with 88 throughout the year. Its police department is struggling with attrition, lacking staff to adequately monitor sex offenders. The cost of living is rising rapidly, and traffic fatalities have also jumped during the past year.
Switching residences after redistricting, Israel’s colleague Rep. James Talarico (D-Austin) is running to succeed her in the House.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.