The folks behind Proposition B, the citizen initiative to re-criminalize public camping in Downtown Austin and near the UT Campus, got the victory they sought for the more than $1 million they spent. With all votes counted Saturday night, the measure backed by Save Austin Now prevailed by 14 points, 57.1%-42.9%.
That’s a slightly weaker showing than was predicted before polls closed by SAN co-founder Matt Mackowiak, also chair of the Travis County Republican Party, but a win’s a win:
Tonight’s decisive win for @saveaustinnow is a clear message to @MayorAdler and @GregCasar that a majority of Austinites will no longer tolerate failed policies that harm standard of living.
Join us: https://t.co/2Wds53aQIa
— Matt Mackowiak (@MattMackowiak) May 2, 2021
Those who have been paying attention will note that Mayor Steve Adler and much of Council have already decided that the June 2019 vote that Prop B reverses was a failed experiment, and have moved on to other strategies to house Austin’s unsheltered poor. Perhaps SAN will catch up soon. Whatever its merits as policy, the campaign for Prop B did almost certainly boost turnout, which all told was 22.55% countywide (just under 90% of that was city voters). That’s the highest Austin’s seen in a May election since 1994.
Even CM Greg Casar, the politician most directly rebuked by tonight’s results, is looking ahead: “I do not believe Austin is as divided as this election makes it seem. The overwhelming majority of Austinites share a common goal, no matter how folks voted on Prop B. We all want to get people out of tents and into homes,” Casar said in a statement. “Our community must come together after this election & house 3,000 more people.”
There will be no moving on, it would appear, for Austinites for Progressive Reform, whose marquee proposal to replace Austin’s council-manager city government with a “strong mayor” system, Proposition F, lost by more than 70 points. The two APR charter amendments that followed on the ballot, Props G (adding a Council district) and H (“Democracy Dollars”) did a little better, each losing by 13 points, while the group’s other two proposals came up winners (Prop E by 17% and Prop D by 33%). So whoever’s elected mayor in 2022 will only serve 2 years before the date shifts to the presidential cycle, and there could possibly be ranked-choice voting in that election to replace a December runoff.
One Central Austin voter had these thoughts:
Austin voters sent a clear and stern rebuke to Austin City leaders today by voting in a landslide:
* FOR Prop B to require Austin to reinstate the public camping ban
* AGAINST making Austin a strong Mayor city
* AGAINST giving vouchers to voters to donate to city campaigns
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 2, 2021
Those same voters, once they were done sternly rebuking, did a 180 to deliver big progressive wins to wrap up the ballot.The Austin Firefighters Association scored a 4-to-1 victory for Proposition A,while a 63%-37% win for Proposition C opens the door for more power and independence for the Office of Police Oversight..
PROPOSITION A: Firefighters’ contract arbitration
FOR: 119,369 (81.2%) * AGAINST: 27,685 (18.8%)
PROPOSITION B: Restoring partial ban on public camping, etc.
FOR: 85,830 (57.1%) * AGAINST: 64,409 (42.9%)
PROPOSITION C: Office of Police Oversight
FOR: 93,655 (63.4%) * AGAINST: 54,192 (36.6%)
PROPOSITION D: Moving mayoral election date
FOR: 98,540 (66.9%) * AGAINST: 48,742 (33.1%)
PROPOSITION E: Ranked choice voting
FOR: 84,826 (58.5%) * AGAINST: 60,048 (41.5%)
PROPOSITION F: Mayor-council system (“strong mayor”)
FOR: 20,801 (14.1%) * AGAINST: 126,847 (85.9%)
PROPOSITION G: 11th Council district
FOR: 62,702 (43.4%) * AGAINST: 81,722 (56.6%)
PROPOSITION H: Public campaign financing (“Democracy Dollars”)
FOR: 63,809 (43.4%) * AGAINST: 83,092 (56.6%)