Below is a short-hand account of the KLRU District 7 City Council interview with run-off candidates Jeb Boyt and Leslie Pool, conducted by KUT’s Jennifer Stayton.
The interview will be broadcast Thursday at 8 PM, and can be seen online at this link:
Most of the responses won’t be new to people who have followed the election. The last question is probably the most interesting – what would the candidate most like to achieve in office. Boyt – pedestrian/bicycle/transit improvements in North Burnet Gateway. Pool – parks, pools, libraries in the north part of the district.
4:15 – Stayton. Hypothetical – pressure on Council to increase public safety budget due to needs in two of the 10 Council districts. Your district has not been affected, but you’re being asked by neighborhood groups to increase funding for evening patrols. 1) How would you work with APD to determine which districts get more officers. 2) If other districts got more coverage, how would you communicate the bad news back to constituents.
Pool – Work for constable’s office, have insight. Talk to APD about employment schedules, how officers are integrated into communities, distribution and hot spots. If you don’t have enough boots on the ground, District 7 has great crime watch programs.
Boyt – Would look at APD’s recommendation, see what the gap is in budget vs needs. Have heard concerns, especially during major events, when coverage is limited. Work with APD, especially sector commands, to make sure full coverage. Communicate transparently to constituents.
7:52 – Stayton – Delivery of bad news – in general, what skills would you bring.
Boyt – Have experience delivering news to clients they don’t want to hear, something not possible. In political context, make sure to reach out to most invested stakeholders, make sure they can ask questions.
Pool – Rare to have a one-off situation. Have big events on regular basis. For an ACL or SXSW, have conversations in advance. If police have to shift elsewhere, arrange for neighborhood patrols, eyes on the street. Key is communication, planning, communicating what to expect. EMS or fire first responders would still be available.
9:38 – Stayton – lots of people don’t vote. Why should non-voter care what happens at City Hall?
Pool –Find points of engagement through conversation. Start dialogue – something like street lights, find out what they need. Get buy-in. Buy-in shapes investment in community, interest in voting.
Boyt – Some people are not happy and not voting. Some express surprise when meeting candidate at their door. Outreach a key aspect of 10-1 system. People don’t even know what City, Council does. Basic services that City provides. Engage them in that conversation.
13:05 – Stayton. So bigger picture, what is role of City Council.
Boyt – Council does budget. Beyond that, Council is voice of people. Representative body that gets together, makes decisions on operation of city budget, providing of services, infrastructure, health, safety, welfare of Austin. It’s where we have the conversations and actually make it happen.
Pool – Budget sets priorities. Council leads City to improvements in services, reaching vulnerable communities. Repair infrastructure, water supply, manage growth so as not to outstrip infrastructure.
13:54 – Stayton. What did you learn from your opponent?
Pool – All seven are so smart, so gracious in giving of knowledge. Learned a lot about people running with, against. Learned to speak succinctly in a minute. Impressed with quality of the dialogue among the candidates.
Boyt – Overall commitment among eight candidates – all care about Austin, the challenges on affordability and transportation. Everyone came from different perspective, brought different communities into conversation.
17:29 – Stayton. District 7 has large socioeconomic divide. Low income families moving to Pflugerville. District also struggles with traffic. Neither issue unique to D7. How would you work with other council members.
Boyt – One of the big challenges – working with other Council members. So many of the issues, votes are citywide matters, concerns. Social equity questions, affordability, good jobs, Safe Routes to Schools, libraries. Some of those things should find consensus across districts. Tougher challenge, libraries, parks where we have to spend money in just one place. Horse trading.
Pool – District Council members are going to be the main voices representing the needs of their districts to rest of Council. Will need to sell, persuade ideas. Look at priorities – take library as example. Two libraries needing repairs, money only for one. Hope there will be consensus to look at city as a whole, while we support what our districts need individually. Prioritization process – get something done that District 7 needs, while helping District 4 with something they need. Vulnerable communities – a key element of what the City does. A concern for the entire community – access to safe housing, education, health. Supports our economic development.
20:56 – Stayton – Rush hour, heading south in car. If stuck in car with three other people, who would those people be, what would you talk about?
Pool – Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, and – who’s a good woman comic? [Boyt – Sarah Silverman] Yes – Sarah Silverman.
Stayton – Would you talk city issues, or would you have them tell jokes?
Pool – I think both things would happen. Totally love Larry David’s wry sense of humor. Not sure who’d be driving. [laughter]
Boyt – Normally have KUT on in the car. [smiles] But in that context, would want to have a conversation about transportation, challenges of getting around. In that regard, the mayor, County judge – Sarah Eckhardt, and Linda Watson, CapMetro chair. “So this is what it’s like on the streets.”
23:00 Stayton – Final question. At end of your term, what is biggest mark you’d like to leave on district.
Boyt – North Burnet Gateway area from ACC campus to Gateway area, greatly improve pedestrian and bicycle, transit connectivity.
Pool – Improve access to parks, pools and libraries, especially north of Burnet Gateway, from Balcones Woods to I35. Desperately need additional green space, city services.