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Election results: Prop A overwhelming rejected by Austin voters

(Bob Daemmrich)

The highly contentious Prop A—a proposition that would require minimum staffing levels for the Austin Police Department—failed to pass as complete election results came in Tuesday night. On the other hand, Prop B—a land exchange deal—passed.

Here are the unofficial results for all 140 voting centers in Travis County:

Prop A
For: 31.12%
Against: 68.88%

Prop B
For: 73.70%
Against: 26.30%

Prop A was the big-ticket item this election with big money and prominent members of the community on both sides.

If passed it would've required the department to employ at least two sworn officers for every 1,000 residents of the city and would create other standards related to staffing, training and recruiting.

Opponents of the proposition argued it was too expensive—implementing the proposition could've cost between $271.5 million and $600 million over five years, according to estimates reported by city staff. They claimed it would put other city funding in jeopardy with signs saying to vote no to protect libraries and city pools, among other city resources.

The No Way on Prop A campaign, put together by No Equity PAC, had over 115 members of the community backing it, including elected members and community organizations. It raised over $1 million in funding between Sept. 24 and Oct. 23 with a big $500,000 donation from George Soros.

"Tonight is a victory for the safety of all Austinites, and for our democracy. Prop A was an irresponsible ballot measure that would have forced Austin to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more on the police department by cutting funding from other essential city services," said Laura Hernandez Holmes, campaign manager for No Way on Prop A, after early voting results came in.

The city released a statement the next day on the results, stating it "remains committed to achieving and sustaining appropriate staffing levels at the Austin Police Department to meet the public safety needs of our residents." It cited the Police Cadet Academy will graduate in January 2022 and another class will start soon after as measures it is taking to get more police officers on the streets.

The vote comes as a loss for Save Austin Now, the PAC that championed reinstating the homeless camping ban in May. The group launched a petition just days after its May victory to address an increase of crime in the city.

The group, led by GOP Chairman Matt Mackowiak, gathered enough petition signatures to get the initiative on the ballot. It also raised over $1 million and had three former mayors backing it and Council Member Mackenzie Kelly.

"Tonight was a disappointment... but I do think we have moved things in a meaningful direction," Mackowiak said at the PAC's watch party. "We aren't going anywhere, we're not going to save Austin now, tonight, but we will."

Less talked about on the ballot was Prop B, the land exchange proposition. This will allow the city of Austin to lease nine acres of parkland along Lakeshore Boulevard, which is currently being used as a maintenance facility, in exchange for at least 48 acres of new waterfront property and the "cost or construction" of a new maintenance facility on other city-owned land.

Now that the measure has passed, the city says it will issue a solicitation for proposals as part of a competitive bidding process.

It has been reported tech giant Oracle will be the recipient of the 9 acres of parkland. The deal with Oracle could reportedly go through if the total value of its bid is equal to or greater than the appraised fair market value of the property the city would be surrendering, according to the ballot language.

Of the 849,679 registered voters in Travis County, 21.56% cast a vote this election.


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