In the aftermath of a tumultuous day that saw a violent mob of the president's supporters storm the U.S. Capitol, five Austin City Council members were sworn in for a new term, virtually, on Wednesday evening. They included new members Vanessa Fuentes, who will represent Southeast Austin's District 2, and Mackenzie Kelly, who will represent Northwest Austin's District 6.
"Reflecting on the images we all observed in our nation's Capitol today, tonight we honor these sacred rituals of peaceful transfer of power that safeguard our democracy," District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool said.
FIve of Council's 10 seats, excluding the mayor, were up for reelection in November. Incumbent Council Members Greg Casar, Pool and Alison Alter were reelected. Fuentes replaces Delia Garza, who was elected to serve as Travis County Attorney, and Kelly replaces Jimmy Flannigan, whom she beat in a runoff election on Dec. 15.
Each of the council members being sworn in disavowed the violence in Washington D.C., including Kelly, the sole Republican, who drew criticism after posing for photos with members of the right-wing extremist Proud Boys group in November.
"The disturbing violence that we saw at the Capitol today was unacceptable, and it should not be tolerated by anyone," Kelly said.
In addition to redoubling their commitment to American democracy, the council members also stressed their priority issues for the coming year: the local pandemic response, public safety and homelessness.
Fuentes said her immediate focus will be on ensuring that there is equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine in Austin and trust that it will work effectively.
We are in week 4 of @GregAbbott_TX vaccine distribution effort and our local safety net distributor, Austin Public… https://t.co/DEGSe4Iw6B— Vanessa Fuentes 💃🏽 (@Vanessa Fuentes 💃🏽) 1609941270.0
Pool stressed that the city may soon face a hospital crisis as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to surge.
"We may face the very worst of the pandemic in the coming weeks," she said.
Kelly focused on the latter two issues.
"I am concerned about public safety. I am concerned about homelessness," she said. "And I will work to help make those problems be solved."
Casar highlighted the track record of the council, which he said has legislated according to its values even as state and federal policies have made that difficult, such as when it cut the police budget in August in response to mass protests.
He also thanked the people of Austin, as did many of his colleagues.
"It's not elected officials who make democracy work," he said. "It's you."
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May's second election is here, in which voters will decide on the candidates to represent their party in the November general election after the winner in some March primary races was unclear.
Just like the March primaries, voters will choose which party they choose to vote in. Then based on location, each ballot will show which races are in a runoff.
In Texas, candidates must win at least 50% of the vote to be elected. In the races where the top candidate only received a plurality of votes, a runoff is being held.
Here's everything you need to know before heading to the polls.
Know before you go
Early voting for the Texas primary runoff election begins Monday and will last through May 20; Election Day is May 24.
The registration period for this election has passed; check if you're registered to vote here.
The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. As long as you're in line by 7 p.m., you can vote.
You'll need a valid photo ID to present once you're at a polling location.
Here are the early voting locations in Travis County.
View wait times at polling locations here.
Races to watch in Travis County:
- Republican: Incumbent Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick won his primary in March.
- Democratic: Mike Collier and Michelle Beckley are vying to be the Democrat candidate on the ballot.
- Republican: Incumbent AG Ken Paxton is fighting for his seat against George P. Bush.
- Democratic: Rochelle Garza and Joe Jaworski will face off to be the Democratic candidate in this race.
View all the statewide races on the ballot here.
U.S. House of Representatives
View the district you live in here.
- Republican: Incumbent Chip Roy won his primary in March.
- Democratic: Claudia Andreana Zapata and Ricardo Villarreal are hoping to secure this vote.
- Republican: Dan McQueen and Michael Rodriguez are going head to head to be the Republican candidate in this race.
- Democratic: Former Austin council member Greg Casar won this race in March.
- Republican: Ellen Troxclair and Justin Berry are vying to be the Republican candidate in this race.
- Democratic: Pam Baggett won her primary in March.
Texas has been home to some of the country’s biggest celebrities of all time—think Amarillo resident Georgia O'Keeffe, Lubbock’s Buddy Holly and Corpus Christi’s famous singer Selena.
The Pudding’s People Map of the U.S., which shows each city’s “most Wikipedia’ed” resident, placed celebrities from all walks of life on the Texas map. As for Central Texas celebrities, there are some interesting (and not so surprising) names on deck.
Proving that Austin is “alright, alright, alright,” Minister of Culture Matthew McConaughey is both Austin’s and Uvalde’s top Wikipedia’ed resident. McConaughey, who was born in San Antonio adjacent Uvalde, has deeply ingrained himself in Austin by studying Radio-Television-Film at UT Austin, starring in the Austin-filmed movie “Dazed and Confused” and investing in Austin FC.
Heading down just a few miles south, San Marcos claimed former president Lyndon Baines Johnson as Texas State University’s most famous alumni, who graduated in 1930, and was also named in Fredericksburg. LBJ wasn’t the only ex-president on the map—George W. Bush was listed as the top resident in Dallas, Midland, Houston and Crawford.
You’ll see some other names with ties to Austin strewn around the state: Janis Joplin in Beaumont and Port Arthur; Stone Cold Steve Austin in Victoria and Edna; Dan Rather in his hometown of Wharton; and Waylon Jennings in Littlefield.
Venturing outside of the central areas, there are big celebrities who call Texas Home. Actress and artist Selena Gomez dominated search traffic in her hometown of Grand Prairie, musical artist Post Malone was most “Wikipedia’ed” in Grapevine, and Shaquille O’Neal was named in the city where he went to high school, San Antonio.
Plus, Thomas Haden Church, Angela Kinsey, Jessica Simpson, Chuck Norris, Roy Orbison, Ron White, Jessica Alba, Colt McCoy, Jimmy Dean and Johnny Manziel all had at least one city covered on the list.
Where’s Texas’ newest resident, Elon Musk? You’ll find him still in Los Angeles, as his foray into Texas living has just begun.Click here to view the full map.