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.
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?
The power of the tech sector in Austin showed its might when COVID-19 was initially spreading, and City leaders failed to listen to and properly address what to do with SXSW as folks were demanding action. Mark Zuckerberg & Jack Dorsey pulled out causing a ripple effect eventually leading to the cancelation, albeit too late for many who had already arrived. City leaders must include leaders of all major sectors in Austin as well as state and federal resources in dealing with local, national, and global crises.
How will you work with City leadership to provide a housing plan for unhoused residents?
Homelessness is a public safety issue that the City of Austin has failed, and IMO exasperated in its actions. IMO, Homelessness is not a crime just like driving is not a crime, or even being uneducated is not a crime… unless say you’re drunk and you get behind the wheel, or you write a hot check to pay an expense. The Austin is fortunate to have the Downtown Austin Community Court (“DACC”) which is a court of law that offers voluntary services to those who commit crimes while homeless or maybe at risk for being homeless. We must expand the DACC to persons throughout Austin and assist with empowering those partnerships and providers by removing wasteful duplication of services and barriers. The DACC can consider commissioning other nonprofit and providers that can provide voluntary services to be extensions of the court to document the services clients and offenders receive and show there is progression to successfully lifting those experiencing homelessness out. According to their website, the DACC can aid with:
- Assistance with identification and vital documents to include the scheduling of DPS appointments
- Assistance with applying for reinstatement or renewal of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) benefits
- Linkages to medical, mental health and substance use treatment services
- Linkages to a Medical Access Program (MAP)
- Mobile Eligibility Specialist Assistance with applications for unemployment benefits
- Linkages to employment services
- Assistance with community resource navigation
- Linkages to Coordinated Assessment providers
- Coordination and linkages to other social service providers
- Assistance with court docket searches for upcoming Community Court legal cases and information on warrants (Individuals will not be arrested for outstanding citations or warrants when voluntarily appearing at DACC)
- Referrals as appropriate to help a defendant complete judicial requirements
- Assistance with storage of vital documents
- Use of DACC’s telephone
- Assistance with storage of personal belongings at Violet KeepSafe storage program
- Use of DACC’s mailing address
How will you work with City leadership to support marginalized communities in Austin?
We must end the racist equity initiatives and cherry picking of those in the marginalized communities to be used as pawns to further and fuel radical agendas. We need to end bias surveys and studies and that may be perceived as skewed. As one who has studied accounting and statistics, it is very easy to manipulate data and surveys to result in whatever agenda is sought.
We must ensure within reason that all persons are aware of services that are available to them through Texas 211 and other available resources. We should use mail, social media, community centers, all city operated buildings including libraries, etc.
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?
As I was able to buy a house in 2019 for about $1,000 over the fair market value, my property has almost doubled in value. Homeownership is one of the most effective means to increasing wealth for families to pass down so I would encourage more development and access to single family homes. The city of Austin has failed in addressing the housing supply. There have been reports of 9,000 to well over 20,000 unlicensed short-term rentals that are going unenforced that include a number operating as commercial property in residential neighborhoods. Currently thousands of rentals also available for rent and homes for sale are also rebounding.
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?
As many persons of different cultures, ethnicities, and senior adults struggle with technology challenges, there must be a hybrid so that all persons can reasonably participate and not have to miss out because of a language or access barrier.
What are your thoughts on the City of Austin using cryptocurrency (AustinCoin)?
As I have dabbled in it myself through the purchase and sell of bitcoin, I am certainly open to learning more in how the city can apply it as it gives more access to services and goods.
How can the City better work with Austin’s tech community to bring innovative approaches to civic challenges?
The tech community is a vital community in Austin and must be involved in civic matters. The intellectual capacity can offer solutions that may not be otherwise considered. Using a Tech Community Board, the board can be linked to the various issues within the city departments and services.
For more information visit yvonneforaustin.com