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State Rep. Celia Israel 'ready for a new challenge' with run for Austin mayor. (Rachel Pearll/CCR Studios)

State Rep. Celia Israel is officially in the running for Austin’s 2022 mayoral election, announcing at the East Austin Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center on Tuesday morning.


Israel announced she was “ready for a new challenge” in September when she said she would step down from overseeing District 50 for the first time since 2014 to pursue an exploratory committee toward running for Austin mayor.

Israel is only the second candidate in the race, next to conservative candidate Jennifer Virden, who announced her candidacy in November. Though no one else has officially thrown their hat in the ring, City Council member Kathie Tovo said she is “strongly considering” a run and former State senator and Austin mayor Kirk Watson is also thinking about a run.

Current Mayor Steve Adler said he will not seek reelection after serving two terms—the longest anyone can hold this position without petitioning for a third term—marking the first time Austin will be under a new administration since 2014.

Representing parts of North and Northeast Austin, Israel is a founding member of the Texas House LGBTQ Caucus, serves on the Committee on Insurance, and the Committee on Culture, Recreation and Tourism. Israel has also served on the Environmental Board, the Police Monitor Board, a Bond Advisory Committee, and the Robert Mueller Redevelopment Advisory.

A Democrat who participated in walkouts of Gov. Greg Abbott's special legislative sessions due to his controversial voter reform bill, Israel hinted at the state's recent legislative changes as part of her motive to run for Austin mayor.

Israel has said she will focus on homelessness, Austin’s affordability crisis and elevating Austin’s sense of community.

"From the pandemic to the legislative attacks on women, communities of color, and trans kids, I know I'm not the only one who has reflected on how we can best use our talents to meet the demands of these challenging times," Israel said in the statement. "And in an increasingly urbanized Texas, local government may seem messy and unglamorous, but it's where neighbors are actively coming together to solve problems."

The new mayor will serve a two-year term, not the usual four years, due to a change to the city’s election schedule from the last election. The 2022 mayoral election will be held on Nov. 8.

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