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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Thursday, July 12, 2018 by Jo Clifton
Troxclair decides not to seek re-election
Council Member Ellen Troxclair, the lone conservative on City Council, announced Wednesday that she would not be seeking re-election to her District 8 seat. Troxclair was elected as part of the first group of Council members elected from districts, and she represents the southwest part of the city.
In a press statement, Troxclair characterized her own service as that of “a fiscal watchdog, an unwavering voice for lowering the cost of living, and a representative of the average Austinite who often feels overlooked at City Hall.”
Among the issues that Troxclair said she believed were most important was increasing the property tax homestead exemption, which she has championed throughout her term in office. The exemption was increased this year from 8 to 10 percent.
Troxclair worked to make sure that the city increased protections for utility customers, doggedly pursuing the city’s utilities on the issue of faulty water meter readings.
Troxclair also worked with colleagues to ensure that the city could use Hotel Occupancy Tax funds for historic sites and parks. Council Member Leslie Pool, one of Council’s most liberal members, said, “I was glad to find common ground with Council Member Troxclair. Her staff and my staff worked really well together … and we had a good working relationship and did some good work for the city, specifically on (Hotel Occupancy Tax) reform and moving that issue into more transparent arenas.”
Mayor Steve Adler told the Austin Monitor, “I wanted to thank her for her service and her sincere commitment to serving the city and the residents of the district. She was an integral part of the historic 10-1 Council and helped create a legacy that will always be remembered. She also told me that she recognizes that she still has six more months of this serious work to do.”
Travis County Republican Party Chair Matt Mackowiak released the following statement: “Council Member Ellen Troxclair has been a dedicated public servant and a reliable taxpayer champion on the Austin City Council and her leadership will be sorely missed. Her consistent efforts to advance fiscal responsibility, address rising property taxes, reduce wasteful spending, and extend the Homestead Exemption have been deeply appreciated by all Republicans. We thank her for her incredible service these past four years and wish her very well as she supports her growing family and returns to the private sector. We know her future is bright.”
Although she has been consistently popular with conservatives, Troxclair raised the ire of her colleagues at City Hall as well as other Democrats when she testified before a legislative committee in favor of reducing the cap on property tax increases.
If she had decided to run for re-election, her opponents would no doubt have criticized her on that issue. In 2014, Troxclair beat her opponent, Ed Scruggs, by just 57 votes in a runoff.
Three progressives are currently running for the District 8 seat: Rich DePalma, Paige Ellis and Bobby Levinski.
Troxclair said, “I look forward to supporting someone in this election who will continue to provide common-sense, fiscally responsible leadership by focusing on lowering property taxes, reducing traffic, and providing more efficient and effective city services. I’m hopeful that someone with this dedication will step forward.”
Former Council Member Don Zimmerman, who served with Troxclair for two years but lost his re-election bid in 2016, said he was sorry to see her go. Zimmerman said he hoped that another conservative would step forward to run for the position.
Andy Hogue, a former employee of Zimmerman’s who currently works for the Travis County Republican Party, said he appreciated Troxclair because she responded calmly but also “fought hard for our values. I think she earned the respect of everybody on the dais. I think liberals and conservatives alike learned a lot from her.”
He later released the following statement: “It’s a sad day, not just for the conservatives of Austin, but for all taxpayers. With Council member Ora Houston also not seeking re-election there is now cause for alarm that there could soon be no consistent voices left on the dais calling for responsible spending, easing the burden on small businesses, and giving tax relief to our hardest-working citizens. Ellen Troxclair was the leading voice for common sense over the last four years and will be sorely missed at City Hall.”
Troxclair said although she is stepping away from Council, “this will not be the end of my public service. Whether it’s volunteering for local charities, encouraging other young, conservative women to get involved in politics, or helping candidates who share the same values, I will continue to be active and engaged in our community.”
Troxclair is the mother of two daughters, one of whom was born in April. As Adler noted, Council service is “a hard job and the sacrifices are great, especially for families.”
Photo courtesy of the city of Austin.
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Key Players & Topics In This Article
District 8: District 8 contains three distinct neighborhoods, Oak Hill, Circle C and Travis Country. The district is bounded on the east by Brodie Lane, on the south by the Travis-Hays county line, on the north by Bee Cave road and on the west by the winding Austin city limits line. It also has the city’s biggest and most infamous traffic bottleneck – the Oak Hill Y, the convergence of US 290 and SH 71, squeezing traffic heading to and from South MoPac Boulevard and out into the Hill Country.
Ellen Troxclair: Austin City Council member for District 8