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Long-odds candidate puts ‘people over profits’

Monday, August 29, 2022 by Sean Saldaña

With a campaign focused on affordability, District 9 City Council candidate Zena Mitchell has many of the same talking points as her competitors, but differs in one key aspect of her messaging – she’s made the decision to avoid fundraising large amounts of money, leaning into her slogan “people over profits.” Campaign finance reports from July show that, at the time, she only had $109 in expenditures.

As a former teacher at Northeast High School, Mitchell is sensitive to affordability concerns, looking to launch a rent-to-own housing program in the city and limit large-scale real estate investment with the hopes of giving average Austinites a competitive advantage in the real estate market. “I’ve lived in Austin for 30 years. My husband and I raised our kids here. We sent our kids to public schools. And now those kids that we’ve raised here can’t afford to live here,” she tells the Austin Monitor. Mitchell believes that large companies have a responsibility to step up and take more of an active role in supporting the community, saying, “The corporations are stressing our infrastructure, which is our human capital, our electricity, our water and our roads. And I think they need to pay for that.”

Another thing that makes her stand out is her commitment to progressive causes. Whereas many candidates are focusing their efforts on more local issues, Mitchell is committed to fighting for causes like abortion access and gun control. While she knows the odds of coming out ahead of her well-funded competitors aren’t in her favor, she’s hoping to overcome that with grassroots support. Mitchell draws a comparison to the 2022 Derby winner Rich Strike. “Did you see the Kentucky Derby this year? The odds were 80 to 1. That’s me.”

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