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Celia Israel announces run for Austin mayor

Wednesday, January 12, 2022 by Elizabeth Pagano

State Rep. Celia Israel has made it official: On a chilly Tuesday morning at Parque Zaragoza in East Austin, Israel announced that she would be running for mayor of Austin. 

She was joined by supporters Rubén Cantú, Ashley Cheng, Nelson Linder, Sofia Reyes and state Rep. Donna Howard. 

In her speech, Israel pledged to “use our prosperity to build a city that leaves no one behind.” She told the crowd her campaign will focus on “three pillars”: housing and affordability; public health and public safety; and transportation and mobility. 

“The building cranes and the help-wanted ads are an indicator of a strong economy, but we are becoming an elitist city where only the wealthy can afford to live. We can’t become a city that attracts billionaires, but sends the working class out to Buda and Bastrop.”

Israel said she will support policies that “allow for more housing options” and help retain families and diversity and allow seniors to age in place. In her speech, she also vowed to keep families safe, provide more safe mobility options to residents, and bring higher expectations to a police force helmed by a new chief. 

Since 2014, Israel has represented House District 50, where she was a founding member of the House LGBTQ Caucus. In addition to her service at the state Legislature, the lifelong Texan has a long history of civic engagement that includes time on the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the city’s Environmental Board, Police Monitor Board, 2011 Bond Advisory Task Force, and Mueller redevelopment advisory commission, as well as an AISD school safety task force.

Israel is a licensed Realtor who lives with her wife, Celinda Garza, in District 7. The two were married by Howard after their wedding was delayed when the representative flew to Washington D.C. to break quorum in an effort to block passage of a bill that would restrict voting in Texas. 

In her introduction, Howard thanked Israel for the counsel offered by her colleague and friend, who earned the nickname “transportation queen” during her time on the Legislature.

“She’s also someone that could bring a chaotic legislative chamber to total silence when she stood up to speak about the impact of legislation on people, especially vulnerable people,” Howard said. “She has continued to make sure that whatever she does in public service in our community, it’s to be in service to all in our community.”

Israel joins Jennifer Virden and local workout guru Erica Nix as the only declared candidates in the race for mayor, though Council Member Kathie Tovo and former state senator and former Austin Mayor Kirk Watson are said to be considering runs as well. Virden declared her candidacy in November. Nix has filed paperwork to appoint a treasurer and confirmed to the Monitor that she will be running.

Watch the full video of Israel’s announcement.

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