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RECA Statement on Proposed City of Austin Charter Amendments

RECA is against the five proposed charter amendments coming before the voters this May which will attempt to completely alter the way Austin’s government is structured and the balance of power within it.  

This May, in an off-year election, a well-funded group of individuals is seeking to have Austinites vote on a series of significant changes to our City Charter without public involvement or education about the monumental changes that would occur if these amendments were adopted. These include how the City holds elections, an increase in number of Council Members representing districts in Austin, and changes to the structure of the City government to a “strong mayor” structure. As an organization, RECA opposes all of these changes for many reasons, the most significant being the complete absence of civic process and the attempt to place far-reaching changes before the voters during a global pandemic.

For 30 years, the Real Estate Council of Austin has actively participated on issues affecting our industry with a focus on our responsibility to provide safe, vibrant, and environmentally-sound places for all residents to live, work, and play. To achieve this, our advocacy includes sustaining Austin as an exemplary leader with a long history of civic inclusiveness and equal access to representation.

Strong mayor governance would radically change and undermine the structure and purpose of Austin’s new 10-1 district representation. The citizens of Austin adopted this new system just seven years ago, in an effort to give equal voice and representation to every citizen and ensure that a form of checks and balances exists at the center of our City government. These proposed amendments breach the trust of the citizens who supported the 10-1 system. Consolidating political power into a single individual as a “strong mayor” diminishes the importance of and accessibility to district representation and undermines Austin’s inclusive political culture.

Austin has operated with a Council-Manager form of government for nearly 100 years and has a history of hiring diverse City Managers who break barriers and bring their perspectives and expertise to the position.  A strong mayor system does not allow for long-term equity investments and improvements, and instead can fall prey to short-term decision-making based on political promises.

We encourage our members, their colleagues, and their neighbors to educate themselves on both sides of the issue. However, at this time RECA as an organization is against all five charter amendments, Propositions D, E, F, G, and H.