Austin City Council Member Mackenzie Kelly addresses public safety, growth in Northwest Austin

Mackenzie Kelly was elected to Austin City Council in December 2020 after defeating Jimmy Flannigan in a runoff election. (Christopher Neely/Community impact Newspaper)
Mackenzie Kelly was elected to Austin City Council in December 2020 after defeating Jimmy Flannigan in a runoff election. (Christopher Neely/Community impact Newspaper)

Mackenzie Kelly was elected to Austin City Council in December 2020 after defeating Jimmy Flannigan in a runoff election. (Christopher Neely/Community impact Newspaper)

Image description
Mackenzie Kelly (Courtesy Mackenzie Kelly)
Mackenzie Kelly represents Austin City Council District 6 and is one of two new city council members in 2021. Kelly is considered to be a conservative voice on a city council largely made up of progressive politicians. She has said she will look for ways to collaborate with her fellow council members. Below we asked her about some of the key issues she now faces while serving on the council.

1. You have stated in the past that public safety and the size of the Austin police force is a key priority. What do you see as the largest obstacles to funding future cadet classes?

My understanding is that the previous council learned that pulling the plug on the cadet classes was a mistake and [that] many have spoken about correcting their error by reinstating cadet classes. The largest obstacle that I see is to ensure that the majority of council is comfortable with reinstating the classes.

2. How does the Austin Police Department address some of the issues outlined in the December 2020 memo from the city’s chief equity officer? For instance, do you agree that residents in specific neighborhoods of Austin distrust the police and some APD policies contribute to a culture of fear in some areas of the city?

APD is better able to address issues such as these internally with full funding. With limited resources, APD is in a difficult position to effectively review the social impact of increased policing in high-crime areas of our city. At certain times, there are not enough officers on duty to respond to reports of crime, even among those who make the call to the police and want law enforcement present. We must do better.

3. How should the city handle the commercial growth taking place along the Parmer Lane corridor in Northwest Austin. Are there sufficient transportation options in this part of the city?

I’m open to exploring ways to reduce wait times at the many intersections along Parmer Lane as the corridor continues to grow. Commercial growth is inevitable, especially as portions of the Robinson Ranch continues to be sold to Apple and other developers. We are interested in ways to expedite permits for these developments but not at the expense of the processes we have in place to ensure traffic continues to flow, neighborhoods are protected, natural resources are safeguarded, etc.

4. Do you believe Project Connect adequately addresses future mass transit needs for Northwest Austin?

Project Connect is a huge burden on taxpayers, many of whom may not be able to afford rent soon as COVID-19 restrictions continue into the new year. Putting Austinites back to work is a greater concern for me in the meantime.

5. What should the city do to address affordable housing in Austin, particularly in District 6?

The first step is to make the homebuilding process more affordable and less cumbersome for private builders. More supply equals lower prices for homes. Northwest Austin still has plenty of room to build. District 6 has among the most affordable rent and home prices in the city, and the reason is because of continued economic growth and ease of transportation—let’s keep it that way.
By Greg Perliski
Greg edits Community Impact Newspaper's Lakeway/Lake Travis and Northwest Austin editions. During the course of his diverse career, he has written for newspapers, online publications and corporate communications teams. He earned a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin. You can reach him at


City Council's April 22 vote decoupled some jobs and services from the Austin Police Department and will provide for the creation of a new emergency communications department to handle city 911 calls. (Community Impact Newspaper Staff)
City Council OKs shifting hundreds of jobs, range of admin duties out of Austin Police Department

More than 280 full-time employees with responsibilities ranging from handling 911 calls to maintenance and human resources will move out of the APD.

Austin ISD trustees approved a resolution April 22 regarding federal education funding currently being held by the state. (Courtesy Austin ISD)
Austin ISD asks state to provide school districts with CARES Act funding earmarked for education spending

Trustee Lynn Boswell said Austin ISD stands to get about $240 million in federal funding if distributed by the state to public districts as intended.

Photo of nurses offering drive-thru vaccines
Appointments no longer needed for drive-thru vaccines at Circuit of the Americas

From April 23-25, people age 16 and up can receive first doses of the Pfizer vaccine without an appointment at COTA.

Austin ISD staff at Pleasant Hill Elementary School distribute meals over the summer in 2020. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD to again offer free lunch to students during 2021-22 school year

Austin ISD has distributed more than 3 million free campus meals and 4.2 million free curbside meals since March 2020.

Q2 Stadium in North Austin
Q2 Stadium to host 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup games this summer

Q2 Stadium has been selected as one of the venues for the upcoming 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament.

I-35 at US 183 flyovers
Watch for new traffic patterns on I-35 in North Austin as TxDOT opens new flyovers, closes existing ramp

Drivers trying to connect to northbound US 183 from northbound I-35 will have to take a detour beginning April 26.

Austin City Council members met for a work session April 20 ahead of the body's regular April 22 session. (Screenshot via city of Austin)
Austin City Hall notebook: Police services decoupling, rental assistance, downtown density bonus fees under consideration

Council will also consider a resolution that would ask state agencies to begin the distribution of about $18 billion in federal aid money aimed at supporting K-12 education.

As part of President Joe Biden’s plan to reopen schools safely nationwide, the department’s National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option is being expanded beyond the summertime. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
USDA extends free school meals provision through 2021-22 school year

Schools nationwide will be able to serve nutritious meals to all students free of charge regardless of eligibility through June 30, 2022, officials announced.

Austin government, nonprofit and business leaders recently participated in a weeks-long summit centered on unsheltered homelessness in the city. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Plan to house 3,000 homeless individuals in Austin in the next three years would cost $515 million

The plan Austin City Council members discussed April 20 emerged from a weekslong community-wide summit on homelessness.

Photo of Zilker Park
Travis County establishes Civilian Climate Corps to tackle environmental projects

The program will create opportunities for residents to work on projects including wildfire prevention, solar energy promotion and park cleanups.

Residents march to the Texas Capitol in protests after the killing of George Floyd in May 2020. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Austin leaders react to Derek Chauvin guilty verdict

The former Minneapolis police officer was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter for the killing of George Floyd in May 2020.