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District 10 challenger Jennifer Virden announces run for Austin mayor. (Jennifer Virden)

Jennifer Virden, a real estate broker and general contractor, officially announced her candidacy for mayor of Austin on Monday.

If Virden wins, she'd serve a two-year term and become the first woman mayor of the city in 40 years. Last year, in an unsuccessful run for the Austin City Council District 10— which includes northwest and West Austin—Virden lost to incumbent Alison Alter by about 9 percentage points.

"We all love Austin, and it's time to get serious about undoing the damage that is being done to our city," Virden said in a press release. "Together we can bring the competent, common sense and compassionate leadership Austin needs now more than ever."

Running on a conservative platform in liberal Austin, Virden first announced her intent to run in a series of tweets in June, when she also released a platform with four key planks:

  • Restore police budget cuts
  • End homeless camping
  • Increase the homestead tax exemption to 20%
  • End the land use code rewrite process

Mayor Steve Adler's final term ends in 2023, in which he has indicated he will not petition for a third term. No other candidates have entered the race yet. While there was speculation District 4 Council Member Greg Casar was considering running, he announced a bid for Congress late last week. There's also talk that others could enter the race, including personal injury lawyer Adam Loewy, State Rep. Celia Israel, former State Sen. Kirk Watson, and City Council Member Kathie Tovo.

Late last month, a federal appeals court rejected her effort to overturn a city ordinance that limits campaign fundraising to the year before an election. The mayoral hopeful argued the limit violated her First Amendment rights. But in an Oct. 25 opinion, the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rejected the argument.

"The temporal restriction at issue does not prevent Virden from spending her own money to disseminate speech, nor does it prevent her from speaking. Virden, however, seeks money to speak 'more robustly.' But the First Amendment does not provide her that right."

With 365 days until the 2022 election, she can now receive campaign contributions and has updated her site with donation suggestions ranging from $5-$400.

Virden has been endorsed by former mayors Lee Leffingwell and Ron Mullen.


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