City Council candidate Jimmy Paver played federal and state cards at his campaign kickoff event on Saturday afternoon, promising to leverage his knowledge from many years serving as an aide to Lloyd Doggett and Mark Strama to fix Austin’s transportation problems.
Paver also said he would use his public policy acumen to wring more services from a growing but inefficient city budget. He told a crowd of 60 at the Dart Bowl bowling alley that the city can’t keep raising taxes or utility rates when so many are struggling.
“Austin has a rising tax base, but our services are staying the same or being diminished,” Paver said. “We have no new parks, we have no extended library hours, the pools are open fewer days out of the year. And we have roads that don’t befit a city of our stature.”
Austin in recent years has directed too much of its investment to Downtown and visitor services, Paver said. One way to improve services and still contain costs will be to reprioritize, spending more on services meaningful to residents. Paver said he would also consider a homestead property tax exemption tied to duration of residence.
The city should stick with its renewable energy programs, however, because that will lead to long-term cheaper utility rates, said Paver, who worked on renewables policy while serving as an aide to former State Representative Strama.
Paver also served for several years on US Congressman Lloyd Doggett’s campaign and home office staff. “The state and federal experience I can bring is the ability to work with regional partners,” he said, with transportation an issue in particular need of such partnership. “We need to improve our infrastructure, we need an east-west route through the city, and we need to improve and widen our roads.”
In the near-term, traffic congestion is a four-hour issue that relatively inexpensive solutions could help to ease, he said, “like car pooling, time shifting when people are going, and allowing employers to let people work from home.”
Paver sought a balance on land use. “We need to protect the integrity of our neighborhoods,” he said, “and then we need to sponsor prudent growth.”
Paver, who was born and raised in District 7, said serving fellow citizens would be a special priority. “One of those problems we have in government is a lack of attention to the needs of the people that we serve. I will work tirelessly to ensure that you as individuals will be listened to, assisted, and supported.
“From a pothole on Lamar, to a policy position on taxes, no one will be shut out of this process, or turned away because I think I know more than you do.”