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Harper-Madison elected mayor pro tem for 2021

Thursday, January 28, 2021 by Jo Clifton

District 1 Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison is Austin’s new mayor pro tem. While her colleagues voted unanimously to select her, the motion and the vote were atypical of such elections. The post of mayor pro tem is a largely ceremonial position, yet Harper-Madison and District 10 Council Member Alison Alter had both indicated that they wanted the job. As Mayor Steve Adler explained, the pair worked out a deal in which Harper-Madison will serve in the position through 2021 and then Council will take another vote and elect Alter for the following year. Alter said she would actually have the job for 2022 and the beginning of 2023; at that point, the Council will have a new mayor and will elect a new mayor pro tem, who could be Harper-Madison, Alter or any other member of the Council. In response to a comment from City Attorney Anne Morgan, Adler said, “Questions or conversations could be had over whether or not this is even an action that the Council can take in an enforceable way. But I think that those are questions that will be decided by the Council a year from now.” He said the vote would express “a moral commitment to abide by how we vote here and I recognize that people will be making plans accordingly, so I would hope and trust that this carries forward and ends up being executed.” Not everyone supported Harper-Madison’s appointment to the post: Prior to the election, one community member objected on the grounds that the Council member does not represent North Austin (true), while another resident spoke up to cast aspersions on the characters of Harper-Madison and her husband, claims that the Monitor was unable to verify. Adler said such disparaging remarks were not permissible, but he was corrected by a citizen. Adler said he believed he was acting in good faith, relying on rules for conducting Council meetings.

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