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%
- Make significant revisions to the Land Development Code, for both residential and commercial
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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If the idea of the metaverse makes you feel more scared than excited, you’re not alone.
In a recent poll on the metaverse, a third of respondents leaned toward feeling more scared about it. It’s a response fitting for a tool that’s in its infancy stages, where it’s not uncommon for some to find it elusive or irrelevant, or require a virtual reality headset.
Amber Allen, founder of metaverse company Double A, has noticed these concerns. Now with the Austin-based company, she’s working on advancements in the metaverse, which may see progress in business use before it becomes mainstream in the general public. But getting to that point involves demystifying misconceptions over it, like that we’ll all put a headset on and avoid real life.
“A lot of people are talking about the metaverse and like what it could be in 10 or 30 years. And they're not talking a lot about what it is right now. And I think that's what scares people and confuses them,” Allen told Austonia. “I'm just very passionate about what is the metaverse now. It's the next wave of the internet. No, you don't need to wear a VR headset.”
She broke this down last week in Forbes, writing about what is hype versus what’s actually happening with this phase of the internet.
Allen sees how eventually, the metaverse could become a part of how we play and interact. But before the Metaverse extends to the average consumer, many predict that it will be popular in business first.
It’s why some think Microsoft may have an edge over Facebook turned Meta in the industry. And why Allen has designed for work that’s 3D, interactive and business to business, garnering interest from companies like General Mills, Dell and Chanel.
She points to how many workers now prefer a hybrid work environment, but says the business tools are not there right now. It’s not just within the workplace, however. Double A also offers tools for boosting sales and generating brand engagement through activities like watch parties and meet and greets.
With companies like Allen’s, corporate metaverse use could see wider adoption. Double A has hired 13 people this year, adding to the ranks of nearly 30 employees plus dozens of contractors. Some are remote workers outside of Texas while others use the office in East Austin with graffiti art that includes popular gaming figures like Zelda and the Mario Brothers.
Allen takes great pride in working in her home state, saying that she’d like to be a great ambassador for Austin. She said she wants people new to the city to feel welcome. She has meet ups from time to time so that new people who have moved in can get face time with others who have been in Austin for a while.
Still, her work is bound to extend outside of Austin as she aims to create products that will have global reach.
“I want to change the world,” Allen said. “You got to think localized. If I'm creating something, how does this work for Europe? How would this work for Asia? How can they build on things?”
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The record-breaking heat seen last week is officially coming to a halt as some much-needed rain is expected in Austin from Monday through Wednesday.
The National Weather Service has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for Central Texas as thunderstorms headed this way could be strong to severe.
Thunderstorms are forecast to begin in the west around 6 p.m. Monday, bringing about a half-inch of rain through the night. Then Tuesday, thunderstorms will likely begin after 1 p.m. lasting through the night. Temperatures on Monday and Tuesday will be in the mid-80s before dropping to the mid-70s on Wednesday. Wednesday will also bring rain and thunderstorms in the morning before clearing out.
Rainfall chances will increase today beginning in the west before spreading east. Rain chances remain elevated through tonight and then again tomorrow and tomorrow night. Strong to severe storms and locally heavy rain will be possible from the stronger activity. pic.twitter.com/f8OpN50dkX
— NWS Austin/San Antonio (@NWSSanAntonio) May 23, 2022
The rain comes after a dry spring that has pushed drought conditions from moderate to severe, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Lake Travis has dropped to its lowest level in almost 4 years as a result.