Former City Council Member Kathie Tovo enters race to become Austin mayor
Former Austin City Council Member Kathie Tovo is running for mayor, she announced Thursday.
Tovo will likely run against current Mayor Kirk Watson in the Nov. 5 election. Watson has said he intends to run again, although he has not made a formal announcement. He's serving a two-year term. His first term as mayor was back in the 1990s before a lengthy tenure in the Texas Senate.
Tovo served on the Austin City Council from 2011 to 2023, representing parts of downtown and Central Austin. She was mayor pro tem from 2015 to 2018, taking on the duties of the mayor when the mayor was absent. The role is voted on by council members.
Tovo had a hand in the creation of the Sobering Center and a program that provided more than 1 million meals to Austin ISD families during the pandemic.
She said she has always been committed to transparency and community-led initiatives, and that that will not change in her run for mayor.
“When I first ran for office, I made a commitment to represent everyday Austinites — Austin’s working families,” she said in a written statement. “As a Council Member, I supported community-led policy and helped give a voice for progressive policies that would benefit all of us, not just those who want to use the City to make a profit. I’m still committed to these same progressive values: equity, honest government and standing up for women, workers, immigrants and our LGBTQIA+ community.”
Tovo also said she plans to take a stand against “bad plans” such as the expansion of I-35.
“This campaign will be about engaging with Austinites throughout the city to craft a vision where every Austinite has the opportunity to succeed and thrive,” she said.
If Tovo is elected, she would be only the second woman to serve as Austin mayor and the first in more than 40 years.
In addition to mayor, Austin voters will elect City Council representatives for Districts 2, 4, 6, 7 and 10 this fall.