Austin Council Member Ellen Troxclair won’t seek re-election


Ellen Troxclair, Austin’s only conservative City Council member, will not seek a second term, she said in a news release Wednesday afternoon.

“The decision on whether seek another term has been an incredibly difficult one because I believe so passionately in the work with which my constitutents have entrusted me,” she said in the release. “I can leave knowing that I accomplished what I set out to do — serve as an advocate for my district, a voice of reason, a fiscal watchdog, an unwavering voice for lowering the cost of living, and a representative of the average Austinite who often feels overlooked at City Hall.”

BACKGROUND: Has Austin council’s lone conservative, Troxclair, worn out her welcome?

The release gave no specific reason for her decision, but Troxclair said in a text message that, like others in Austin, she’s “worried about raising a family and earning a living.”

She is a real estate agent who has given birth to two daughters during her three and a half years on the City Council and recently returned from maternity leave. She said she has no plans to run for anything else and hopes a candidate will step forward in the race whom she can support. Three progressives have so far said they will run.

“It’s been an honor to serve for 4 years, but I never set out to be a career politician, and it’s time to step aside and let someone else carry the torch,” she said.

Troxclair won southwest Austin’s District 8 seat with the narrowest margin of the 2014 council races, in the first year of the 10-1 district-based representation, which allowed more geographic, ideological and racial diversity.

A real estate agent and former aide to Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, Troxclair has been the farthest right, politically, of council members since progressives replaced council members Don Zimmerman and Sheri Gallo last year. She drew support from constituents who appreciated her pleas for tax relief, but angered her colleagues when she lobbied against them at the Capitol for the Texas Legislature to overturn local measures.

She said she is proudest of successfully pushing proposals to increase to the property homestead exemption to 10 percent, give residents a method to decrease water bill spikes, allocate hotel taxes to parks and historic sites and provide funding for infrastructure in her district.

“I want to thank Ellen for her service and her sincere commitement to serving the City and the residents of her district,” Mayor Steve Adler said in a text message after the announcement. “She was an integral part of the historic 10:1 Council and helped create a legacy that will always be remembered. She told me that she recognizes that she still has six more months of serious work to do.”

Five City Council seats and the mayor’s seat are up for election this year. Council Member Ora Houston announced last month that she will not run again in District 1.

ALSO READ: Austin Council Member Ora Houston won’t run again, Dem party chair will

Three progressives have announced plans this year to run in Troxclair’s district: Rich DePalma, a contracting consultant and member of the Parks and Recreation Board; Bobby Levinski, an environmental lawyer and activist opposed to the CodeNext rewrite of land use rules; and Paige Ellis, an environmental marketing specialist.

Mark Littlefield, a local political pollster and consultant, said he’d expected Troxclair to get the most votes in the race and end up in a runoff with one of the Democrats. But the path to victory for a Republican in a Democratic city would be more difficult in the current political climate, he said.

“What I told people in 2016 was ‘Ellen is going to be really tough to beat when she runs for re-election in 2018,’” he said. “She’s proven to be a great campaigner… Almost every year she’s had money left over in her account. She donated to local parks. She was responsive to her constituents. Man, she was doing everything right.

“But then I would preface it by saying ‘Unless Donald Trump wins, ha ha ha.’”

Troxclair said in her news release that she hopes to support a fiscally conservative candidate and plans to stay involved in politics herself.

“Austin continues on an unsustainable path,” she said. “Constant over-taxation, over-regulation, lack of prioritizing basic infrastructure needs and implementing policies that are detrimental to our economy will continue to push families and businesses out of our city.

“It is heartbreaking to watch a city that I love race to become a place where the average person cannot afford to live.”

This story has been updated throughout.



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