Civics 101

Local Elections Matter

It’s that time of year again. Election season is upon us and here at the Austin EcoNetwork, we want to make sure that you are informed about the candidates and issues at the local level. The presidential election is of course, important. But too often, we only pay attention to what’s going on with national politics, at the expense of local government.

That’s kind of crazy considering the large impact that local government has on our everyday lives. City Council affects the quality of our parks, the price of our property taxes, the health of our environment, and the severity of our traffic. While the president and Congress can enact big policies that eventually impact some of these things, they rarely have as direct an impact on the parks we visit everyday or the roads we always drive on.

But, local elections can sometimes be hard to follow along with. They often don’t get enough news coverage, and the attention they do get is usually pretty boring.

Here at the Austin EcoNetwork, we’re trying to change that by taking our Civics 101 series to the next level – local elections.

Let’s start with the basics.

The Basics

Where can I vote? Why should I vote? And what are the major issues of this election season?

The $720 Million Mobility Bond - Prop 1

What are the biggest issues facing Austin today? The most common answers to that question are transportation and affordability.

Well, Prop 1 affects both of them.

Which means that this is the big one. This is the issue of this local election season.

So now’s the time to pay attention.

Austin City Council Races

Choosing your City Council member is a big deal. This is the person who will represent you in City Hall for the next four years. They’ll make policies that will influence the city’s transportation infrastructure, affordability, environment, and your own neighborhood. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to who is actually running and what their plans are for Austin.

But, following along with local City Council races can be hard. They often don’t receive a lot of news coverage and it can be difficult to learn anything more about a candidate than what his or her yard sign looks like.

We’re trying to change that.

But first, we need to determine which City Council district you live in. The City of Austin is made up of 10 City Council districts, served by one City Council member each. In November, five of those seats will be up for election. (If you don’t know which City Council district you live in, you can look it up here).

City Council District Map
This is the map of all 10 City Council districts in Austin.

(Please note – New City Council Voter Guides are being released each week. District 6 and District 10 will be added by Friday, October 28th.)

Why all the mural pictures?

Another reason why a lot of people don’t follow along with local elections is that they seem boring, or worse yet, irrelevant.

We’re trying to change that as well.

As you can see below, the Austin EcoNetwork is using outdoor art this election cycle to help highlight the unique and creative aspects of each district. By showcasing these murals, we’re hoping to spread one important truth this election season – elections are fundamentally about people. It’s our voice, our vote, and our city. Elections are not about politicians or special interests. Elections are about us.

So we’re fighting back against the boring. Let’s make local elections matter (and maybe even a little fun). Follow along with us on Facebook and Instagram for even more coverage.