Austin’s next mayor will serve two years, not the usual four
The first tenure of Austin’s next mayor will be cut in half because of a measure backed by voters in 2021.
Proposition D passed last year with more than two-thirds of the vote. The prop, which got on the ballot after a petition effort, moves the city’s mayoral elections to the same year as presidential elections.
The intent? To Increase voter turnout in mayoral elections. In 2016, nearly 65% of Austin voters cast a vote, while fewer than 62% did in 2018.
So, Austin voters will pick a mayor in 2022. And then again in 2024.
“I think that most folks might not be aware of it,” said Andrew Allison, who worked for the group behind the prop, Austinites for Progressive Reform.
The group collected enough signatures last year to get five propositions on the ballot, all aimed at changing parts of Austin’s government. The majority of voters supported just two of the propositions, including moving mayoral elections to the same year as presidential and adopting ranked-choice voting for local elections.
Candidates elected as mayor or one of Austin’s 10 council members can serve two terms — assuming they win re-election. Typically, these terms are four years. They can serve more terms, though, if they collect enough signatures to get on the ballot again; this is what District 9 Council Member Kathie Tovo in order to run in 2018.
As for this year's mayoral election, these first two years in office will count as one of the next mayor’s two terms, according to the city's charter. So, if the next mayor wins reelection, they would serve only six years instead of the typical eight.
This story has been updated.