East side activist Llanes Pulido running for mayor
Wednesday, January 24, 2024 by Jo Clifton
Longtime Austin activist Carmen Llanes Pulido announced Tuesday that she would be running for mayor. Llanes Pulido, 39, is the executive director of GAVA (Go Austin/Vamos Austin) and a former member of a variety of city organizations, including the Planning Commission and the inaugural Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, which created Austin’s first district map.
Llanes Pulido told the Austin Monitor she is running against incumbent Mayor Kirk Watson because under his leadership the city has seen “inadequate planning, deals that favor investors, wasteful spending … and frankly a mindset for a much smaller city.” As for former Council Member Kathie Tovo, who announced her bid for the job on Friday, Llanes Pulido said she would give her credit for caring and working hard to help people. But Llanes Pulido said she could reach out to a more diverse community and bring them into the conversation about how government is run.
Llanes Pulido served as Tovo’s appointment to the Planning Commission, where she voted against a variety of urbanist plans. Because she was a member of the redistricting commission, Llanes Pulido said she was barred from running for office until mid-2023. However, she said she has been thinking about doing so for many years.
Llanes Pulido is the daughter of another East Austin activist, Daniel Llanes.
“My dad brought me into City Hall when I was a baby and he brought me to community meetings as a child,” she said. She added that going to all those meetings exposed her to the idea that when people get together, they can do “really innovative, creative things.” But she said that doesn’t mean that he wanted her to run for office.
“He knows I’m not a politician at heart – I’m a public servant,” she said.
She said she wants to “equitably climate-proof our city,” while at the same time mitigate displacement of people and restore “some health in our local economy and housing ecosystem.”
Although she did not mention him by name, Llanes Pulido is clearly not a fan of interim City Manager Jesús Garza. She specifically criticized his plan to fold the Equity Office into the Small and Minority Business Resources Department. Although it appeared that might not happen, after the budget was completed, Garza followed through with the plan.
Watson just filed his campaign finance report showing he had spent less than $8,500 from personal funds and about $600 from political contributions. However, he had not started fundraising for the upcoming election. During the 2022 election, he raised about $995,000 in the first four months of the campaign, considerably more than his opponents Celia Israel and Jennifer Virden.
Tovo filed her paperwork to run for mayor last week, so she will not have to disclose her fundraising proceeds until July. However, she has relied in the past on her own resources as well as donations to fund her campaigns.
Llanes Pulido told the Monitor she would be focused on getting voters to support her more than raising money for the campaign. She said she intends to have more small donors than her opponents.
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