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Scruggs, Troxclair & the Politically-Charged, Non-Partisan Race in District 8

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Still in the race for District 8's Austin City Council seat are Ellen Troxclair and Ed Scruggs, two candidates that are, for the most part, diametrically opposed from a political standpoint – though, technically, city elections are non-partisan.

Scruggs says he's a progressive with on-the-ground experience in D8, and hopes to expand affordable housing options and diversity in the district. Troxclair touts herself as a fiscal conservative, and believes her voice on city council could help Austin reduce unnecessary municipal spending and increase affordability in the district.

Troxclair says her hope for a fiscally responsible Austin is necessary as the city expands.

“If we don't get a handle on our spending, we are not going to be able to reprioritize things like increasing our road capacity, improving our bus service,” she says. “So, for me, they're all interconnected and it starts with getting our spending under control.”

For his part, Scruggs calls himself a progressive. He says that's the most obvious difference between Troxclair and him, adding that his opponent doesn't have the years of experience working in the community that he has.

“I think also we have different amounts of experience within the district. I've served on a homeowner's association board and also served as its president, worked on behalf of getting school bonds passed to relieve school over-crowding,” he says. “My colleague's experience – she has a lot of legislative experience. So, it's a different type of experience – different points of view – as far as where we are coming at issues.”

Perhaps the biggest issue affecting District 8 – besides traffic – is property taxes. This is a community of mostly middle and upper-middle income families. Scruggs says it's becoming harder to find affordable homes in the area.

“We still have some lower-middle income neighborhoods,” he says. “Now, they are disappearing quickly and you lose diversity of neighborhoods and diversity within neighborhoods, and it goes to an alarming trend that I see.”

Scruggs says neighborhoods that lose that diversity – in income, race, gender and even age – can face a downward spiral.

Troxclair believes the antidote for that downward spiral would be an immediate 20 percent city homestead exemption, which, she says, her opponent doesn’t support.

If elected, that idea would need to be embraced by the rest of the city council before it could become a reality in Austin.

Election Day is December 16, and early voting continues through Friday Dec. 12.

Below you can listen to one-on-one interviews with each candidate from KUT's Joy Diaz.

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.