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Interview with Mayor Kirk Watson
Interview with Mayor Kirk Watson
By Jessica Foreman
Posted: 2024-02-27T13:31:32Z

LWVAA members Carol Limaye and Jessica Foreman met with Mayor Kirk Watson on February 21st at City

Hall to hear about his goals for Austin. Please read below for highlights of our discussion.

What are Austin’s challenges?

Mayor Watson believes that Austin's challenges stem from the region's success and desirability. As

Austin flourishes economically, it also faces issues such as transportation and affordability. The mayor’s

major concern is that Austin will become inaccessible to future generations. Specifically, he cited the

difficulties in recruiting public service workers and educators due to affordability constraints. His goals

to address these challenges are through updated land use policies, diversifying the economic

development model, and investing in vocational training to create more opportunities for residents to

affordably live and work in Austin.

The Fayette Power Plant

LWV-AA has a current advocacy position calling for Austin Energy to disinvest from the Fayette Coal

power plant. We asked the mayor for his feelings on the topic.

The mayor has pulled his support for the current 2030 Resource, Generation, and Climate Protection

Plan for Austin Energy for not being aggressive enough in ending Austin’s relationship with the Fayette

Coal Power Plant. He wants a better framework to address the three major pillars of an Austin energy

plan: climate sustainability, reliability, and affordability. And as a piece of that, he wants Austin out of

the Fayette Coal Power plant by 2029. He feels that this date will give enough time for a responsible plan

to withdraw, and he wants the 2030 plan to focus on tangible steps to disinvest by 2029.

How has Austin changed since you last served as Mayor?

According to Mayor Watson, the two biggest changes are Austin's evolution into a major city and the

transformation of media. During his first term as Mayor, the Council could see where Austin was headed

with growth. This time around, Austin is a big city – the 10th largest in the country - and we need to

mature into that position with our governance and how we approach problem solving. How the city gets

information to the public is also a big change, from more traditional media coverage years ago, to social

media updates daily.

How can the city promote transparency in the city manager hiring process?

Mayor Watson stated that making the process transparent will be extremely important for the

new city manager, so they can start their job with credibility from the public. Once the final group of

candidates is announced, there will be opportunities for the public to interact directly with the

candidates at public meetings and offer their feedback to the city before the final hiring process.

Where does he see Austin in 10 or 20 years?

Looking ahead, the Mayor hopes Austin will maintain its unique character, welcoming new ideas and

diverse voices. He emphasized the importance of affordability to ensure the city remains accessible for

all residents.

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