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This story was updated at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday with the final results from Travis County and at 2 p.m. on Wednesday with the final results from Williamson County.
With all votes tallied, Council Member Jimmy Flannigan is headed to a runoff against his opponent, Mackenzie Kelly, in the race for his District 6 seat on Austin City Council.
Flannigan led the race, with 40.22% of votes. But he needed 50% to avoid a runoff.
Kelly, one of three challengers, received 33.4%.
Jennifer Mushtaler and Dee Harrison—who, like Kelly, ran on platforms in opposition to Flannigan's stance on police reform, homelessness and Project Connect—had 19.11% and 7.26% of the vote, respectively.
District 6, which includes parts of northwest Austin, is one of five of Austin City Council's 10 seats up for election this year. In his next term, Flannigan will be tasked with the ongoing rewrite of the city's land use code, making further cuts to the Austin Police Department's budget, and—with voter approval of Proposition A—implementing the $7.1 billion Project Connect transit plan.
As a council member, Flannigan has supported all of the above initiatives. His platform included plans to address the pandemic, Austin's affordability crisis, traffic congestion and public safety reform.
Flannigan has proposed replacing the police chief role with a system modeled after the city's 10-1 structure, in which five commanders represented different regions of the city and a civilian police commission would direct the Austin Police Department.
Flannigan also voted to overturn the city's camping ban.
"Austin service provides concur that criminalizations creates barriers to accessing necessary services to get folks experiencing homelessness into housing, while also adding costs to the criminal justice system," he told Austonia last month.
Flannigan outraised his opponents by a wide margin, with around $167,000 in donations, according to the latest round of campaign finance reports.
Harrison recently retired from a career in emergency management at various local and state agencies. She opposes the current council's push to reimagine public safety by reallocating police funds to other city services as well as the Project Connect transit plan.
Harrison raised $2,450 in political contributions.
Kelly is a client care manager who ran against Flannigan in 2014. She also opposes recent cuts to the Austin police department budget and the decision to overturn the camping ban.
"This was a knee-jerk reaction by the city with no solid plan in place to address homelessness as a whole," she recently told Austonia.
Kelly raised $64,0000 in political contributions and was endorsed by local Republicans, such as Travis County GOP Chairperson Matt Mackowiak and former Austin City Council Member Ellen Troxclair.
Mushtaler, a physician and small business owner, ran on a platform that included reinstating the camping ban, fully funding law enforcement and prioritizing neighborhoods in the land use code rewrite process.
Mushtaler raised $40,000 in political contributions.
Travis County saw record turnout this election, with 35,354 District 6 residents casting a ballot in this year's election, compared to 27,599 in 2016.
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that Texas will opt out of further federal unemployment benefits related to the pandemic effective June 26, citing the number of current job openings and concern about potentially fraudulent unemployment claims. The benefits include a $300 weekly supplement.
"The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring communities across the state," Abbott said in a statement. "According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment jobs."
TWC listed 837,273 job openings as of Monday afternoon compared to 226,849 unemployment insurance claims filed statewide between March 31 and May 1. An estimated 1 million Texans were unemployed as of March, according to latest estimates released by the state agency.
Some local business owners, including Doc's Backyard Grill owner Charles Milligan, suspect unemployment benefits are deterring Austinites from returning to work. But others agree with economists who say multiple factors are at play, including health concerns and child care availability.
We're seeing lots of posts about how nobody wants to work right now. Just wanted to share our experience.
We received over 60 resumes for a taproom bartender position we posted last week. Every applicant we've set up an interview with has shown up.
People want 𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘥 work.
— Austin Beerworks (@AustinBeerworks) May 11, 2021
Abbott also cited fraudulent unemployment claims. Between March 2020 and April 2021, TWC received 4.48 million unemployment benefit applications, 611,000 or around 14% of which were tagged as suspicious. Most of those tagged were blocked before any benefits were paid out, according to an April 29 press release.
Federal law requires the effective date of such benefits change to be at least 30 days after the U.S. Department of Labor is notified.
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