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Final Election Day results: Austin voters pass homeless camping ban, fail strong mayor proposal

Austin Texas residents line up in record numbers for early voting on municipal issues that will define the city's direction for years to come. (Bob Daemmrich)

With Election Day results tallied, Austin voted in favor of reinstating a ban on camping in certain areas of the city and maintaining the current strong-manager form of government after a contentious race, which saw eight ballot proposals and vociferous disagreement.

Proposition A, charter amendment regarding binding arbitration in firefighters' labor contract: 68.32% PASS

Proposition B, city Code amendment to reinstate restrictions on public camping: 57.7% PASS

Proposition C, charter amendment regarding office of police oversight: 62.8% PASS

Proposition D, charter amendment to move mayoral elections to presidential years: 66.5% PASS

Proposition E, charter amendment to create ranked choice voting for city elections: 58.4% PASS

Proposition F, charter amendment to change to a strong mayor form of government: 85.8% FAIL

Proposition G, charter amendment to add an 11th council district: 56.6% FAIL

Proposition H, charter amendment to adopt a public campaign finance program: 57.2% FAIL

Across Travis, Williamson and Hays counties, all of which include portions of the city of Austin, 220,420 ballots were cast, or around 18.1% of registered voters.

Proposition B, which stems from a successful citizen-led petition spearheaded by the local political action committee Save Austin Now, will re-criminalize sitting, lying, camping and panhandling downtown and around the University of Texas at Austin campus, among other areas. The PAC, which was founded by Travis County GOP Chairperson Matt Mackowiak and local Democratic advocate Cleo Petricek, argued that overturning the ban led to public health and safety concerns and allowed homeless residents to live in unsafe conditions. Opponents, who included most council members, say reinstating the ban will only force homeless residents into less safe parts of town and do nothing to provide housing.

Now passed, Prop B will take effect once the election results are certified, which usually takes a couple of days. Texas lawmakers are also considering a statewide camping ban, in response to recent policy changes in Austin.

Austinites for Progressive Reform, another local PAC, also led a successful citizen-led petition campaign, getting Props D, E, F, G and H on the ballot. The response from voters to this package of reforms, which the group argued would increase voter turnout, was more mixed. Voters passed Props D and E but failed Props F, G and H.

Austinites for All People, a coalition of residents opposed to Prop F, released a statement Saturday evening. "Voters delivered a rejection of the consolidation of power and political cronyism that Prop F would have meant for our city's governance," the group's co-chairs said. "The results are also an endorsement of the council-manager form of government and the 10-1 system that continues to work towards more diverse representation on city council."

Proposition A, a charter amendment regarding binding arbitration in firefighters' labor contract, stemmed from a citizen-led petition organized by the Austin Firefighters Association, which represents Austin Fire Department employees. AFA President Bob Nicks said binding arbitration will help prevent the city and the union from negotiating impasses, which have occurred in three of the last six bargaining cycles.

Proposition C, a charter amendment regarding the office of police oversight, comes from an ordinance put forward by the Council Member Greg Casar and will move the city's office of police oversight from the control of the city manager to that of council.


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