Candidate questionnaire: Jennifer Virden – Mayor

Candidate questionnaire: Jennifer Virden – Mayor

ATA issued a candidate questionnaire to all candidates running in the November 2022 general election. All questions were the same for Mayor, City Council, County Clerk and County Judge. Responses have not been edited. View all responses here.

Jennifer Virden – Mayoral candidate

As we head into the 4th year of Covid-19, what learnings have you taken from the pandemic and how will you apply those to your policies and community outreach moving forward?

We learned that heavy-handed shutdowns and mandates had deleterious effects on our children, mental and physical health, inflation, and our economy, especially our local small businesses and creative classes who don’t have the luxury of working from home. Those negative consequences outweighed any measurable positive results of the shutdown and mandate policies pursued by our previous mayor.

How will you work with City leadership to provide a housing plan for unhoused residents?

City policy must start with fully enforcing the camping ban and to stop allowing open drug markets on our city streets. For the unhoused, our policies must focus on mental health and addiction treatment as much of the homeless population is suffering from those two ailments which prevent them from maximizing their reintegration into society.

How will you work with City leadership to support marginalized communities in Austin?

The economic conditions that create marginalized communities are global and out of the city’s control. The best a mayor can do is to make sure we provide for a safe city with access to beautiful green spaces and parks, and we do our part to keep the cost of living down by lowering property taxes and utility bills.

Homeowners and renters experienced enormous increases in Travis County Property Taxes in 2022. How will you address Austin’s ongoing housing shortage and displacement issues?

In order to solve the property tax crisis in Austin for homeowners and renters, the city must:

  1. solve the AISD recapture problem;
  2. freeze, then begin to reduce the city portion of property taxes; and
  3. benchmark the senior and disabled exemptions to the rising cost of living.

As our community continues to rely on virtual spaces, how should the City address the digital divide? What steps would you take to bridge that divide?

Mostly stay out of the way. Businesses and nonprofit organizations are far more equipped to tackle these challenges than the city. The city needs to focus on core municipal services, like public safety and filling potholes.

What are your thoughts on the City of Austin using cryptocurrency (AustinCoin)?

I am open to the idea of the city using proven cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. I don’t think the city should be experimenting with unproven commodities or technology. That is the role of the private sector.

How can the City better work with Austin’s tech community to bring innovative approaches to civic challenges?

The city should solicit advice from the tech community on all of the challenges our city faces, as the tech community can look forward rather than pursuing old ideas that have not worked elsewhere. Of particular interest would be to hear from people who have fled other places, like San Francisco, about the reasons they left and how to avoid those problems in Austin.

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