With national races taking spotlight, city props get no love
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Election Day is less than one week away, but most Austinites still may not be as informed as they could be.
Brian Smith is a professor at St. Edward’s University. He said voters often will hit “yes” on the ballot even if they don’t know about an issue.
"We're voting on stuff that's very important, but we have the least amount of knowledge on," Smith said. “We have 18 ballot initiatives and I think all 18 will pass.”
The City of Austin’s Propositions 1 and 2 deal with municipal elections.
Prop 1 suggests moving it from May to November. Prop 2 has council members serving four-year staggered terms, instead of three years.
"That's a big deal on the council, but for us, we're not really going to see a difference," Smith said.
Then comes the most controversial ballot issue, single-member districts.
Voters can choose a 10-1 or an 8-2-1 plan. The following two propositions fall in line with drawing district lines.
"If we switch the way we do representation, we're going to have to address these problems," Smith said.
Like the city manager picking staff--Props 5 and 6 let the city council hire their own staff and the city attorney.
"We have no idea who's on city council to begin with let alone who their staffers are, so this isn't a big deal," Smith said.
Neither are Props 7, 8 and 9, which is why Smith says they're towards the end of the ballot:
Prop 7 suggests reducing the number of signatures needed to get an ordinance on the ballot.
Prop 8 gives council members the ability to raise money one month after the election is over.
Prop 9 would allow council to lease parkland to independent school districts.
"They tend to have words like ‘ad valorem’ and things that the average voter can't even understand," Smith said.
Props 10 and 11 have also piqued interest. Prop 10 establishes guidelines for termination of some city employees, and Prop 11 is specifically for EMS workers.
The rest, Propositions 12 through 18, divvy up bond money:
Proposition 12: $143 million for transportation
Proposition 13: $30 million for Barton Springs watershed
Proposition 14: $78 million for parks
Proposition 15: $78 million for affordable housing
Proposition 16: $31 million for public safety
Proposition 17: $11 million would fund improvements and expansions for health and human services facilities throughout the city and improvements at the Betty Dunkerley Campus and Women’s and Children’s Shelter
Proposition 18: $13.5 million would fund improvements to libraries, museum, cultural arts facilities and publicly-owned facilities used by the Austin Film Society
Exhausting to make it through the list, but something you should know before you hit the polls.
“At the end of the day we’re going to be like how did this happen, “Oh, we had an election.’”