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Election Day is Nov. 8. Early voting begins Oct. 24 and runs until Nov. 4.

Meet the six candidates vying to be Austin's next mayor

Six people sit behind a long table with a screen behind them that says "City of Austin mayoral candidates forum"
Alyssa Olvera
KUT and the Austin Monitor hosted a forum Oct. 5 for the candidates running for Austin mayor.

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Austin Mayor Steve Adler has reached his term limit, and six candidates are vying to replace him this election — all with diverse experiences ranging from politician to realtor to business owner.

The mayor elected in this cycle will serve a two-year term, as opposed to four years. A ballot measure passed in May 2021 moved Austin's mayoral race to align with presidential elections in an effort to increase voter turnout.

KUT and the Austin Monitor hosted a forum last week to introduce the candidates. Watch it below:

2022 Mayoral Forum

Texas House Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin) and former state Sen. Kirk Watson, who was Austin's mayor from 1997 to 2001, are considered the top contenders.

Israel has lived in Austin since 1982 and graduated from UT Austin, like many of the candidates. She served in former Gov. Ann Richards' administration. Israel was elected to represent District 50 in the state House in 2014. She announced last year she would not be seeking reelection and instead run for mayor.

Israel says she aims to serve “the people who live here and who build the city around us: our teachers, construction workers, students, public service workers, artists, musicians, technologists, developers, and so many more.”

Watson was a lawyer before becoming mayor of Austin in 1997. As mayor, he revitalized downtown and championed environmental preservation, as he touts on his website. He also pushed programs to address police oversight, affordable housing and homelessness. He later represented District 14 in the Texas Senate from 2007 until 2020.

Phil Campero Brual

Brual was born and raised in Austin and is now a student at UT Austin. He said he shares a duplex with four roommates and is working three part-time jobs while interning at the Capitol. He said he is running to replace the “out of touch millionaires who pretend to understand the real struggles of the people living and working in Austin.” His focus is on the high costs of living and rent.

Anthony Bradshaw

Bradshaw is a security guard living in South Austin, according to his candidate application. He pledged not to raise any money for his campaign. In the mayoral forum, he said he wants to focus on affordable housing and education.

Jennifer Virden

A resident of North Austin, Virden has been a realtor and business manager for 30 years. She ran to represent District 10 in 2020, but lost to incumbent Alison Alter in a runoff. She distinguishes herself as the most conservative-leaning candidate. She said she wants to address the high cost of living in Austin by supporting local businesses and lowering property taxes. She said she also hopes to increase police funding and remove housing development restrictions in the Land Development Code.

She said she aims to reform Austin ISD’s recapture program, which allows the state to take property tax dollars from wealthy public school districts and redistribute them to lower-income districts and charter schools.

Gary S. Spellman

Spellman is a founder of an environmentally friendly cosmetics company based in Austin. He said he wants to appeal to moderate voters as a “purple” candidate. Austin's true problem, he said, is that it hasn’t reflected ideological diversity “since our council almost solely represents one political party."

KUT and the Monitor are hosting a series of candidate forums next week with the candidates running for five seats on the Austin City Council. Submit your own questions and watch the live forums on our website or our YouTube channel at noon everyday from Oct. 17 to Oct. 21.

Correction: This post has been updated to correct the spelling of Brual's last name and to say that Brual was born in Austin, not the Philippines.

Laura Morales is a part-time general assignment reporter. She has reported in Texas for five years with several publications including the Texas Observer, the Austin American-Statesman and the San Antonio Report.
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