Citing District 1 Council Member Ora Houston announced Wednesday she will not seek a second term on Austin City Council.
According to a press release sent from her office Wednesday, Houston, the lone African-American on the city dais, made the decision after “months of personal discernment and conversations with confidants.” Houston’s inaugural term on council will expire at the end of this year.
“It has been a joy, privilege and a huge responsibility to represent the ‘blended family’ of [District 1],” said Houston. “Over the next seven months there are major issues to address and votes to take which will impact our City for generations, and the individuals who live here now and in the future.”
Houston often fought for equitable services in District 1, which extends further east than any other district. She consistently reminded her colleagues on the dais of Austin’s history of racial segregation, and its presence as one of the most economically segregated cities in the country.
In a written statement, Houston said many important decisions lie ahead for the city’s elected officials, from CodeNEXT and the 2018 bond to adoption of the 2019 budget. She said council must ensure that, “justice for all is accountable, transparent, unbiased, effective and affordable.”
In battles over land use, Houston often aligned with the preservation of existing neighborhoods and was outspoken against the gentrification of Austin’s east side.
“I laid a foundation of listening to the people, of civility, and approachable through many important transitions,” Houston said in a statement. “I will continue to represent all constituents with integrity, vigor and compassion until my term ends. As I am fond of saying, ‘This is an 8 day a week job, 24/7.”
Houston’s decision to step down leaves November’s District 1 council race open to four announced candidates, Vince Harding, Lewis Conway Jr., Natasha Harper-Madison and Mariana Salazar. Harding announced his candidacy on Wednesday. The window to file for a place on the ballot will be between July 23 and August 20.