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Photo by Celia for Austin

Nix drops out of mayoral race, issues endorsement for Israel

Thursday, September 1, 2022 by Nina Hernandez

Performance artist, fitness instructor and body positivity activist Erica Nix formally announced Wednesday that she would drop out of the mayoral race and endorse former state Rep. Celia Israel. Nix launched her campaign late this summer with a platform centered on saving creative spaces.

“I originally launched my campaign for mayor of Austin because I want to save our creative spaces, amplify weirdo voices, protect marginalized communities, and improve public transportation,” Nix, who removed her name from the ballot ahead of Monday’s deadline, said in a press statement. “As a creative myself I feel the pressure to figure out if I can even afford a future in the city I love so much.”

Nix moved to Austin in 1999 to study photography at St. Edward’s University. That was around the time she, as chronicled by Texas Monthly in 2020, started performing as an aerobics instructor alongside a garage band. As Nix points out, Austin isn’t the same city that once allowed such artistic experimentation to thrive.

“Since I came here in 1999, I’ve seen so many artists and creatives get priced out,” Nix wrote in her statement. “Austin is a refuge for every queer weirdo in Texas and that’s a huge responsibility.”

“I couldn’t ethically stay on the ballot when I think Celia Israel would do a great (even better) job,” Nix concluded in her statement, which was sent to the press via the Israel campaign. “As a lesbian Latina, Celia reflects the diversity of our city, and I know she’ll ensure Austin remains home for people from all walks of life, no matter their income or background.”

Israel, who announced her campaign in January, was elected to represent Texas House District 50 in 2014, and belonged to the cohort of Democrats who left Texas for Washington, D.C., last summer in protest of Senate Bill 1. Israel said she will prioritize transportation and housing affordability while fighting for progressive issues such as abortion and voting rights.

“This one means a lot to me,” Israel said of the Nix endorsement on Instagram. “Let’s work together to make Austin affordable for all the creative weirdos who make this city hum, because they’re worth the fight.”

Nix’s departure narrows the field to Israel; former state Sen. Kirk Watson, who made his announcement in February; real estate agent Jennifer Virden; Southeast Austin resident Anthony Bradshaw; legislative intern Phil Brual; and entrepreneur Gary S. Spellman.

Watson, who was Austin mayor from 1997 to 2001, said he is running to tackle the city’s affordability and housing issues. He has touted his ability at the state level to “get things done” for Austin, as well as his successes as mayor protecting Barton Springs and establishing the Dell Medical School.

Virden, a native Austinite, ran unsuccessfully against City Council Member Alison Alter to represent District 10 in 2020. She is running on a platform that includes supporting and “refunding” the Austin Police Department and cutting taxes.

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