Austin residents vote down strong mayor

Voters stand in the rain at the Shops at Arbor Walk on election day, May 1. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
Voters stand in the rain at the Shops at Arbor Walk on election day, May 1. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)

Voters stand in the rain at the Shops at Arbor Walk on election day, May 1. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)

Update, 10:45 p.m.

Proposition F has failed to pass, with 85.85% of Austin residents voting against the measure to create a strong-mayor form of government. With all ballots counted, 21,781 votes were in favor of the proposition, and 132,184 were not.

Andrew Allison, campaign chair for Austinites for Progressive Reform, a group that advocated for the strong mayor system, said he hopes a different solution is found to give voters a chance to weigh in on the person who leads "executive functions" in Austin.

"I think it's clear that the community did not support the proposal that was put forward. What I also think is clear is that over the course of this campaign, a number of community members, including members of the opposition to Prop F, have expressed concerns about the status quo," Allison said.

Nico Ramsey, the director for community engagement with anti-Proposition F group Austin for All People, called the vote a "clear rebuke" of the proposed strong-mayor system.


"We are not Chicago; we're not Seattle; and we're not Houston. We're Austin, and Austinites saw that the clear strengths in our city is under the current form of government," Ramsey said. "Aside from a consolidation of power into one individual, it was going to completely diminish the voter's voice, because when you consolidate power into one person, you are beholden to that agenda."

Results for the four other democracy-related propositions on Austin ballots are also in. Proposition G failed, with 43.33% of voters in favor of establishing an 11th City Council district. Proposition H also failed; 42.76% of voters approved of the plan to restructure the city's campaign finance system with taxpayer-funded vouchers.

Propositions D and E passed. The first would change the the date of mayoral elections to presidential election years and garnered 102,070 "yes" votes—or 66.46%. Results for the latter, a proposal for ranked-choice voting, show 57.95% of voters in favor.

"I think both are going to have significant impacts on the level of representation and quality of governance that we have in Austin," Allison said of propositions D and E.

Original post, 7:44 p.m.

A majority of early voters cast ballots against Proposition F, a city charter amendment to institute a strong-mayor form of government in the city of Austin. In the early voting period that ran from April 19-27, 12,452 voters, or 13.26%, cast ballots in favor of the measure.

A strong-mayor government would dissolve Austin's city manager position and put the mayor in charge of duties including hiring and firing department heads. The change would take place in 2022 after current Mayor Steve Adler's term ends.

Proposition F is one of several democracy-related items that appeared on the May 1 ballot. Fewer votes also lead for Proposition G, a measure that would add an 11th City Council seat, with 39.68% of Austin residents voting in favor. Proposition G works in tandem with Proposition F, avoiding the potential of gridlock that could be created by 5-5 votes once the mayor is no longer a voting member of council under the strong-mayor system.

Results for Proposition D, which would change the date of mayoral elections to presidential election years, are trending more positively, with 62.9% of vote in favor. If passed, the next mayor, selected in 2022, would serve a two-year term rather than a four-year term, with another election taking place in 2024.

A measure that aims to establish rank-choice voting for local races—Proposition E on the ballot—has 48,731 votes in favor, or 52.92%. If the proposition passes, it must be verified that ranked-choice voting is legal under the state law before it can be implemented.

Finally, Proposition H, which aims to create an alternative campaign finance system by giving local voters $25 taxpayer-funded vouchers called Democracy Dollars to donate to candidates, has received 35,354 votes in favor so far—37.75%. The traditional campaign finance system currently in place allows individuals to donate $300 per candidate.

Results are updated as of 7:30 p.m. and are unofficial until canvassed.

Learn more about the propositions discussed in this story here. Visit communityimpact.com/voter-guide/election-results to see results from all local elections in your community.
By Olivia Aldridge

Multi-Platform Journalist

Olivia hosts and produces Community Impact Newspaper's podcasts, The Austin Breakdown, The Houston Breakdown and The DFW Breakdown. She launched the podcasts after nearly three years as a reporter for the newspaper, covering public health, business, development and Travis County government for the Central Austin edition. Olivia worked as a reporter and producer for South Carolina Public Radio before moving to Texas.