As 2021 comes to a close, City Council Member Kathie Tovo said she’s “strongly considering” a run for mayor in 2022, according to a report from the Austin Monitor.
Though she didn’t confirm the run, Tovo is entering her final year as a District 9 representative and 12th year on City Council. Currently, candidates for mayor officially include conservative Jennifer Virden. Meanwhile, State Rep. Celia Israel has formed an exploratory committee and former State Sen. Kirk Watson has expressed interest.
Mayor Steve Adler can also petition for a third term, which he has yet to indicate, otherwise his term will end in 2023. Election day is Nov. 8, 2022.
Thankful for these great colleagues. https://t.co/89HyHgXaoG
— Kathie Tovo (@kathietovo) November 23, 2021
After two of what Tovo called the hardest years on City Council in 2020 and 2021, Tovo has had plenty of time to reflect on which issues to tackle in the New Year. Alongside the rest of the world, Tovo, a Democratic council member, said her main focus has been on COVID-19 recovery.
District 9, which covers Downtown, Central Austin and South Congress, has been hit particularly hard in the pandemic. Tovo said she has been focused on business and arts sector recovery, particularly uplifting musicians, increasing equitable food access and strengthening child care options.
When Austin’s pandemic response took a pause for Winter Storm Uri, Tovo sponsored the resilience hubs initiative which will expand to all Austin neighborhoods to bring food, water and warmth in the event of another disaster.
Tovo is also focusing on reducing violent crime on Sixth Street after the last year saw increased criminal activity, including several shootings. Tovo’s solution is to foster a well-trained and fully-staffed police force.
Finally, after focusing on bringing affordable housing to the city over the last year, Tovo wants to proliferate accessory dwelling units and increase access to affordable construction loans. A resolution for ADUs is planned for January or February.Tovo’s seat already has some competition—progressive candidate Zohaib Qadri announced his run for the District 9 seat in mid-November.
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Austin Nicholson was ahead of the curve when he got his vasectomy in September 2021, saving himself a long line as Austin-area doctors say the demand for sterilization has seen a “significant” spike since Roe v. Wade was overturned on Friday.
Nicholson, 25, said he would prefer to adopt children, had felt the Supreme Court decision coming for a while, and, wary of the consequences, he decided to pull the trigger and make an appointment.
“A big part of it was the political climate. We could both potentially face consequences and she would definitely face more consequences, which I also personally would not want,” Nicholson said. “I didn't want to be stuck in Texas and have a potential abortion on the mind when it's illegal.”
According to vasectomy specialist Dr. Luke Machen of Austin Fertility and Reproductive Medicine, the clinic received over 150 vasectomy appointment requests combined on Friday and Monday following the ruling. Typically, the clinic performs 45-50 vasectomies per month.
The Austin Urology Institute reported that they received about 70 calls in the first hour after the ruling was released. OBYN at Women’s Health Domain reported receiving over 100 requests from women interested in getting their tubes tied.
“I would say a significant number of patients who scheduled recently have mentioned the Supreme Court case,” Machen said. “A lot of guys have said they were thinking about having a vasectomy over the last year or so, and the ruling was the final push to get it done.”
The average patient at Austin Fertility who receives a vasectomy is about 37, though Machen said he has started to see an increased number of patients with zero children choosing to get a vasectomy. While they put together a study, Machen expects demand for the procedure to plateau but stay higher than before the ruling.
Machen said vasectomy is the most effective form of permanent birth control, requires only about a week of recovery time, is reversible with success rates of up to 95% and has no effects on sexual function or testosterone.
Nicholson said the procedure was less than $700, he was never in any pain, had very little recovery time and has never regretted the decision—in fact, he has happily recommended the procedure to friends.
“It helps me feel better knowing that I won't put a woman in that situation where she'd have to be faced with a potentially life-altering decision, or consequence even,” Nicholson said. “I actually have had three of my friends ask me questions about it and tell me that they were considering it.”
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