City Council Q&A: Council Member Ryan Alter

City Council Q&A: Council Member Ryan Alter

In order to raise awareness of civics and government in Travis County, Austin Tech Alliance conducts periodic interviews with our elected officials. Up this month: City of Austin Council Member Ryan Alter, District 5.

What inspired your run for city council and your desire to be involved in local politics?

Ryan AlterI’ve always known I wanted to serve my community. After working in the legislature for then-Senator Watson and Senator Hinojosa, I saw an opportunity to make a bigger impact by shifting my focus from state to local policy. The local level is where we can directly address the housing and affordability crises impacting Austin. I loved working in the Capitol, but so much of the work in that building is playing defense; trying to minimize the impacts of bad policy. At the local level, we have an opportunity to be proactive, creative, and move more quickly.

What are your general policy priorities for this term in city council?

I ran for City Council because Austin is facing a housing and affordability crisis that’s affecting everyone from those experiencing homelessness to professionals seeking to purchase a home. This crisis must be attacked from all angles – there’s no silver bullet – so I’m exploring all every tool we have in our belt to make Austin an accessible city for everyone.

Austinites also deserve to feel safe in our city, so I’m dedicated to working with the community, APD, and other stakeholders to ensure we have the personnel, policies, and resources necessary.

What do you believe are the biggest issues the people of Austin are facing right now? How can Austin City Council begin to solve them?

As mentioned above, housing and affordability challenges are impacting nearly everyone in Austin. There is also significant public interest in expanding access to childcare and ensuring public health and safety. Let’s not kid ourselves, these are big, complex issues, and City Council must work together to move the needle. We have to engage the community and include diverse voices and opinions, but we must also have a bias for action and not let perfect be the enemy of the good.

What do you think is the best way for Austinites to get involved in local politics?

  • Check out what City Council is up to by following our bi-weekly meetings. You can attend in-person at City Hall or watch live on ATXN.
  • Reach out to your Council Member! We are elected to represent you, so don’t hesitate to contact us if you have ideas, comments, concerns, or even compliments  If you’re in District 5, you can reach us at, (512) 978-2105, and on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. You can also sign up for our newsletter here.
  • Volunteer to serve on a City Board or Commission. There are 65 actives boards and commissions, and we’re always in need of dedicated public servants.

Ryan AlterHow might the city partner with local businesses or tech to make the city function optimally?

In the public sector, a lot of time and attention is given to what one might call “hardware problems”: Do we have sufficient public transit infrastructure? Do we have the right equipment for our power utility? Is there enough housing for our residents? That’s all essential, but oftentimes the optimal functioning of that public hardware depends on the “software”. How do we effectively leverage those capital investments so that we’re helping the people most in need, improving mobility, preventing climate change, developing our economy, etc…? That depends on the iterative process of passing regulations and setting up programs, either alone or in partnership with the private sector. Austin is an incredibly creative and talented community, and we should be leading the country in innovative policy solutions. I welcome those in your community to reach out and let us know what you’re seeing – what can we do better and how can we better leverage the unique resources we have.

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