Travis County

Voters in line on the first day of early voting in Texas at Southpark Meadows shopping center in South Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

In normal times, the first day of early voting is usually the busiest day of in-person voting ahead of Election Day.

But these are not normal times.

Pedestrians cross the street near bars on East Sixth Street in May.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe said he’s not going to allow bars to reopen at 50% capacity Wednesday, citing a memo from the county's top doctor saying COVID-19 "continues to be a threat."

KUT's Audrey McGlinchy (top left) moderates a candidate forum with (clockwise): Casey Ramos, Alex Strenger, David Chincanchan and Vanessa Fuentes.
Screenshot via YouTube

Lee esta historia en español. 

KUT and the Austin Monitor held a series of forums over the past few weeks with candidates running for Austin City Council. Not everyone can watch an hour-long forum, though, so we picked three big questions from the event and are providing text of the candidates' answers here. 

Julia Reihs / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

Early voting officially begins in Texas on Tuesday and runs through Oct. 30. In addition to the presidential election, Travis County voters have the chance to weigh in on a number of local and state races. Those in Austin have some transportation measures to decide as well.

A voter at Joslin Elementary during the primary runoff elections in July.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

If you live in Travis County, here are the races that could appear on your ballot in the 2020 general election. Residents of other counties can find their voter guides here.

A floor marker at UT Austin's Student Union reminds students to stay 6 feet apart.
Michael Minasi / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

High school and college-aged students are testing positive for COVID-19 at a much higher rate than the area's overall population, Austin's top public health expert says.

NOAA/NESDIS/STAR GOES-EAST

Galveston residents fleeing the path of Hurricane Laura are being bused to Austin’s Circuit of the Americas. From there, they’ll be placed in local hotels until it’s safe to go back to the Gulf Coast.

A sign tells people they can register to vote at a table outside the Palmer Events Center.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Lee esta historia en español.

Travis County officials have launched a program aimed at making it easier for people to register to vote during the pandemic in a way that doesn’t violate Texas’ online voter registration ban.

Tesla's Cybertruck model.
Tesla Inc.

Tesla’s new $1 billion electric vehicle factory will be built just east of Austin, the company’s CEO Elon Musk announced Wednesday.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

Austin Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza will be the next Travis County Attorney after her runoff opponent, Laurie Eiserloh, conceded the race on election night.

With early voting totals in, Garza led Eiserloh by a margin of a little over 8,300 votes – 55% to 45% of early votes and mail-in ballots. By 1 a.m. Wednesday, unofficial county results put that lead at more than 16,000 votes. Eiserloh's concession came shortly after 11:30 p.m on Tuesday.

Incumbent Judge Dimple Malhotra (left) is competing against Margaret Chen Kercher for the Democratic nomination for County Court Law No. 4.
Via the campaign websites

If you’re voting in the Democratic primary runoff in Travis County on Tuesday, you’ll see a race somewhere in the middle of the ballot for a judgeship for something called County Court at Law No. 4.

There are two candidates in the runoff: Dimple Malhotra and Margaret Chen Kercher.

Tesla has targeted an area off State Highway 130 and Harold Green Road as the site where it could build its electric truck factory.
Michael Minasi / KUT

Del Valle Independent School District’s board members agreed to a property tax abatement with Tesla, Inc., Thursday night.

The electric car maker is looking to build a $1 billion factory in Eastern Travis County. If the company meets all of the criteria while bringing its new factory online, it could save as much as $50 million in property taxes over 10 years.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Read this story in English.

Valerie Sterne siempre supo por anécdotas que las escuelas de Austin están segregadas. Ella era maestra y administradora del Distrito Escolar Independiente de Austin (AISD, en inglés), y vio de primera mano que los estudiantes de color y los de bajos recursos asistían a las mismas escuelas. Cuando se marchó para obtener su doctorado en política educativa, decidió estudiar el tema y obtener datos duros. 

Julia Reihs / KUT

Valerie Sterne has always known anecdotally that schools in Austin are segregated. She used to be a teacher and an administrator with the Austin Independent School District, and saw firsthand that students of color and low-income students were all attending the same schools. When she left to get her PhD in education policy, she decided to study the issue and get hard numbers. 

(Left) Julia Reihs | KUT; (Right) Photo courtesy of Laurie Eiserloh

The Travis County attorney does thankless work. That's a bleak descriptor, but it's not wrong.

Both Laurie Eiserloh, a career attorney and longtime staffer at the county attorney's office, and Austin Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza want to take on that thankless work and are competing in the Democratic runoff for the position that has no Republican challenger.

A face mask hangs from the rearview mirror of a parked car during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

Travis and Hays counties are following the footsteps of other local governments in Texas and directing businesses to develop safety policies that require employees and customers wear masks. 

Sam Biscoe served as Travis County judge for 15 years before returning to the position on an interim basis in May.
Office of County Judge Sam Biscoe

Sam Biscoe is no stranger to racism. He grew up in the shadow of segregation in Tyler, participated in the civil rights movement and started his career as a lawyer with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP. 

A notice to vacate is posted on an Austin home in 2018.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Texas Supreme Court is letting its ban on eviction proceedings expire today, meaning that starting tomorrow there is no longer a state ban on a landlord’s ability to evict a tenant.

Travis County Deputy Theresa Stewart serves an eviction suit to a tenant in Southwest Austin in 2018.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Eviction hearings in the Austin area will be put on pause until at least April 1, after Travis County justices of the peace issued an order Friday.

Julia Reihs / KUT

We followed four key Travis County races on election night: district attorney, county attorney, county sheriff and county commissioner for Precinct 3. Of the four, only one avoided a runoff on May 26: the Travis County sheriff's race.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

If you live in Travis County, here are all the races that might appear on your ballot for either the Democratic or Republican primary. Put your address into the tool below to find out which Congressional, state legislative and State Board of Education districts you're in, then scroll down to find the candidates in those races.

Salvador Castro for KUT

Feb. 3 is the last day to register to vote before the March 3 primary elections in Texas. Here’s what you need to know to register.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin Public Health says a person in Travis County has been diagnosed with measles for the first time since 1999.

Flags fly at Apple's North Austin campus
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Travis County is putting a moratorium on the practice of giving property tax breaks to companies that agree to expand here and meet minimum county requirements, including agreeing to invest at least $25 million and hire more than 100 people.

The incentives program was set up to lure business investment and expand the county’s tax base.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Travis County is one step closer to finalizing its formation of a public defender office for low-income defendants charged with certain felonies and misdemeanors. The Travis County Commissioners Court today OK’d the structure of the office’s seven-member oversight board, which will include attorneys, criminal justice advocates and former judges.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The effort to create a public defenders office in Travis County isn't dead after all.

At its board meeting this morning, the Texas Indigent Defense Commission OK'd a move to waive a requirement for a letter expressing interest in a $15-million grant to establish a public defender office in Travis County for adult felony and misdemeanor cases – something the county has tried and failed to do for decades.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Ninety-three percent of eligible voters in Travis County are expected to register to vote by the Oct. 9 deadline, according to the county’s voter registrar. So far, 91 percent of eligible voters have already registered.

Nasha Lee for KUT

Update: Travis County Commissioners voted 3-2 to continue negotiations with ROT Rally organizers to keep the annual event at the Expo Center.

Our original post continues: 

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The Austin City Limits festival starts up again at Zilker Park this weekend, and as one of the city’s biggest festivals begins, another could meet its end. A vote today by Travis County Commissioners could mean farewell for the ROT Rally.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Census tract 48453002411 has a lot to offer. There’s a brewery on the north edge of the tract. There’s a neighborhood park, and you’re not too far from McKinney Falls State Park. On a good day, you can drive from this part of Southeast Austin to downtown in 20 minutes.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Voters approved a Travis County bond package totaling almost $185 million Tuesday by a wide margin. More than 73 percent of voters cast a ballot in favor of both bond packages. The funding will go toward capital improvements across the county, as well as extending services to parts of eastern Travis County, Manor and Pflugerville.

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