Nov 8, 2022 - News

Three things we're watching in Austin elections returns

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

While the top-of-the-ticket matchup between Beto O'Rourke and Gov. Greg Abbott will earn the most attention in Texas on Election Night — the state's policy direction on immigration, abortion, environmental protection and social services hangs in the balance — we're keen on the outcome of a few local races.

  • Here are our three big questions.

Will we get a clear result Election Night in the Austin mayor's race?

Former state senator and former mayor Kirk Watson has raised vastly more than his challengers in his bid to return to City Hall, and enjoys support from key unions and moderate Republicans and Democrats.

  • Yes, but: State Rep. Celia Israel has won the endorsements of both the Austin American-Statesman and the Austin Chronicle, and has presented herself as a progressive who is unlike any of her opponents.

With six candidates in the field, will we get a clear winner who corrals at least 50% of the vote (plus one vote) — or will two of them head to a December runoff?

Read our interviews with Watson, Israel, and conservative-minded Jennifer Virden.

What shade of purple are the Leander and Round Rock school districts?

Conservatives are angling to take control of key suburban Austin school boards.

  • Candidates in politically purple Round Rock and Leander are pushing a "Texas values" and "pro-freedom" agenda.

Why it matters: Schools have become ground zero amid raging culture wars and the school boards set district goals, hire superintendents and set budgets.

  • The direction races like these go will help inform the strategies of state and national politics going forward.

A look at suburban Austin school board politics

How will the Austin bonds fare?

Austin Independent School District, Austin Community College and the city of Austin are asking voters to collectively approve more than $3 billion worth of bonds.

  • State of play: Against a backdrop of spiking inflation and general anxiety about the economy, it could be a tricky plealooks.
  • Yes, but: There's a lot of wealth coursing through Austin right now, and these institutions say they need the money to keep up with community needs.

Read our quick guide to the bond proposals.

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