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Former mayor, state Sen. Kirk Watson announces bid for Austin mayor

(Kirk Watson)

After months of speculation, former state Sen. Kirk Watson confirmed Tuesday he is running for Austin Mayor this November.


Watson is a Democrat who formerly served as Austin mayor from 1997-2001 before serving in the Texas Senate for 13 years. At 63, his last position was serving as the first dean of the University of Houston's Hobby School of Public Affairs.

He says he is running to "ensure that the city—effectively and equitably—addresses the range of issues that will define our future." According to his campaign website, his priorities while in office are:

  • Austin’s rising cost of living
  • Homelessness
  • Systemic racism
  • Public safety
  • Transportation
  • Managing Austin’s success so that in 10 years, 20 years and even beyond, we have sufficient water, parks and green space, equitable access to good-paying jobs, more cultural amenities, and other things that make Austin successful and make it home
So far, he will be up against State Rep. Cecilia Israel; former Austin City Council candidate Jennifer Virden; and Erica Nix, a "body positivity ambassador" and workout coach. Austin City Council Member Kathie Tovo has expressed interest in a run but has not formally announced her campaign.
Mayor Steve Adler's final term ends in 2023, in which he is not petitioning for a third term.

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