Five questions with Austin mayoral candidate Jennifer Virden
As part of our effort to inform Austin voters ahead of the Nov. 8 election, we've interviewed some of the leading mayoral candidates.
Jennifer Virden, who runs a real estate and construction business, describes herself as the "common-sense" candidate.
Do you think Austin is on the right track or wrong track?
"I agree with the majority of Austinites that Austin is on the wrong track, which is, at least in part, a result of policy decisions that have been made by Mayor Adler and the current City Council."
Austin lately — perhaps always — has had an antagonistic relationship with state officials. Is that a problem? How would that relationship be different if you were mayor?
"I am a lifelong Austinite and I have seen the relationship get much worse in recent years. It is a major issue because we need to be able to work with state leaders to address large local issues, including solving the school finance debacle, aka "Robin Hood," and ensuring Austin's roads and highways receive adequate funding to keep up with regional growth."
Do you think the police are adequately funded?
"No. But the bigger issue for now is the staffing crisis and long emergency response times we have as a result of Mayor Adler and Council's decision to defund the police and cancel cadet classes in 2020."
How specifically would you change the city's homelessness policy?
"First priority is to fully enforce the camping ban, no exceptions. Next, we would need to focus on stopping open drug use and trafficking while changing our overarching policy from Housing First to a Housing Plus model that requires drug and alcohol treatment as well as mental health treatment for those suffering from those ailments."
What about your own experience distinguishes you from your opponents?
"My opponents supported Mayor Adler; I did not. In fact, it was decisions he has made that energized me to get involved to represent the viewpoint of the majority of Austinites who don't want endless property tax increases, police to be defunded and rampant homeless camping. My opponents will be a continuation of Adler's Austin."
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