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After big win, Travillion ready for next four years

Tuesday, November 10, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Although Travis County Commissioner-elect Jeff Travillion won reelection with nearly 76 percent of the vote, he doesn’t dwell on that, saying simply, “It is gratifying to be invited back.” Then he’s off, talking about his plans for the next four years, starting with transit. Travillion, who is Travis County’s representative on the Capital Metro Board of Directors, says transit is always at the top of his to-do list. In particular, he will be “looking for equitable outcomes” in spending money to help Precinct 1.

Travillion thinks a number of things can be done in the near future to expand access to public transportation for his constituents. “We need to see how quickly we can get a MetroRapid (bus) coming out of Techno Center (near Yager and Parmer), and how quickly we can get park-and-ride and a MetroRapid installed at the expo center. That will serve the Cameron/Dessau area,” he explains.

He’s also interested in the idea of having a pickup zone so a smaller bus could pick up passengers and deliver them faster to a bus stop for a bigger bus in that area. Travillion said he hopes those opportunities will come up very soon. In one scenario, someone calls Capital Metro and the bus picks them up and takes them to the expo center, where they can board a bigger bus to their destination. In another scenario, someone calls Capital Metro and is taken from their home to the destination, if that destination is nearby.

“We think that cutting the waiting time from one hour to 15 minutes will be something that will increase ridership significantly. We’re doing the same thing in the Menchaca Road area as well. It was important to me to see some kind of equity,” Travillion concluded.

The second issue on Travillion’s list is access to health care. “We are still working very hard to get clinic space in the Colony Park area,” he said, “and until then we’ve been working with the community center in Manor to co-locate with schools until we have a standalone clinic that addresses the needs of the eastern crescent.”

Travillion had two more items on his list: Workforce training and community policing. He said it is important to make sure Travis County has the workforce to provide workers for Tesla when the first buildings come online. He also wants to ensure there are training opportunities for people in the Travis County jail, so that “people who’ve gotten in a little trouble still have access to training to help keep them from going back to jail,” he said.

The Travis County Correctional Complex currently houses 1,656 men and 174 women. There are four facilities that house both men and women. Travillion strongly believes it would be safer for both the women and the officers who protect them to be in one primary area.

“Historically, we have used a warehouse-type building,” he said. “I think that is ineffective.” He pointed out that the county has seven jail buildings built to last about 25 years and some have been in service for 40 years. While he is not in favor of replacing all of them, “I think as a starting point we need to make sure we can address the needs of women, especially from a trauma-informed perspective.”

Travillion noted that he was one of the commissioners who rejected the previous design for a new women’s jail. That jail was on hold until the county put together a team to describe the therapeutic services, medical services and training that Travillion says incarcerated women need.

“A lot of people oppose the idea of any jail, but while they’re in our custody we need to make sure they can go back into the community with a stable lifestyle. If we don’t provide the mental health and training,” he said, we can’t solve the problem of recidivism.

Travis County Judge-elect Andy Brown has said he is opposed to moving forward with the jail. Travillion said, “Everybody says they don’t want jails and I understand that, but … what have we done to make sure that somebody who gets out and is trying to do the right thing … has the right resources and has access to decent affordable housing? This is a community conversation. You’ll never address the homelessness issue if you don’t address housing.”

Photo via Facebook

Editor’s Note: Andy Brown is on the board of the Capital of Texas Media Foundation, which is the parent nonprofit of the Austin Monitor.

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