Former Texas State Senator Kirk Watson mayor Austin race for

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Former State Senator Kirk Watson, who was mayor of Austin from 1997 to 2001, announced Tuesday it was launching a bid for his old job.

“It’s official, I’m running to be the next mayor of Austin!” said Watson on Twitter. “Austin is special, but we face many challenges. By working together, we can create transformational change that leaves no one behind.”

Watson’s announcement, first reported by the Austin American Statesmanwas sent to his supporters in an email on Tuesday morning.

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“I’m running for mayor because there’s more to do,” Watson said in his announcement. “I want to ensure that our city responds effectively to all the questions that will define our future. Austin should think big. We should set and achieve ambitious goals. And we should be able to do those things while providing basic, day-to-day services.”

Watson recently served as the first dean of the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs, a post he held after retiring after 13 years in the Texas Senate, to which he was elected from 2007-2020. Prior to that, Watson ran for Attorney General in 2002 and lost to Republican. Greg Abbott.

Watson remains a popular figure in Austin politics. It will have strong notoriety and should bring in a lot of money in fundraising.

Other candidates included in the November election include Rep. state democrat Celia Israel, Real Estate Broker Jennifer Virden and City Council Member Kathie Tovo. Tovo did not officially launch her campaign but told the statesman she planned to run for office and filed a campaign treasurer form, the first step toward starting her fundraising.

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At a time when local governments often face the state, Watson’s experience in the Legislature could strengthen his candidacy. But Austin has also changed dramatically since Watson was mayor at the turn of the century. Massive population growth has led to housing and transportation problems, and the city is often in cities lists head with the greatest income inequality. The city also faces tensions between the police and activists of police accountability.

On its campaign page, Watson praised his accomplishments as mayor, particularly his work to create the first office of the controller of the city police to increase police accountability; affordable housing programs; and measures obligations to protect ecologically sensitive land, the green belt of the city and natural swimming pool, Barton Springs.

Current Austin Mayor Steve Adler must step down after his second term ends unless he collects petitions from 5% of registered voters to run for a third term. Adler said he has no intention of collecting petitions.

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The candidate elected this year will only serve a two-year term as Austin tries to align its mayoral races with the presidential elections in a bid to increase voter turnout.

Disclosure: The University of Houston Business School of Public Hobby and Steve Adler, a former chairman of the board of the Texas Tribune, have been financial supporters of the Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonprofit news organization. advocacy that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial backers play no role in the journalism of the Tribune. Find a suit list here.

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