City hopefuls meet face to face

Published 7:15 am Wednesday, October 27, 2010

With the election looming, seven City Council hopefuls faced off in a debate that touched on local job growth, rental property management and energy initiatives Tuesday night at City Hall.

The debate, sponsored by the League of Women Voters, featured City Council candidates from all three wards and the member-at-large seat.

Business growth

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All of the candidates agreed that the City of Austin needs to see new businesses moving to town, but some of them disagreed about how to go about attracting the businesses.

Judy Enright, candidate from Ward 3, said if she is elected she would be considerate of existing businesses when attempting to bring new businesses to town but that new growth is important.

“It would be nice to fill some of our empty buildings that we have in town,” Enright said.

Richard Pacholl, incumbent from Ward 2, said the city should offer incentives to business owners considering moving to Austin.

“The City of Austin needs new businesses in town,” Pacholl said. “In order to attract new business or new industry in town we need tax incentive.”

Ward 1 incumbent Jeff Austin – whose opponent, Derek Hyland, was absent from the debate – disagreed with Pacholl, saying that tax incentives may not be the best option for all incoming businesses.

“We have to look at each business that’s coming on an individual basis,” Austin said. “Each situation requires different things to be done.”

Ward 3 challenger Jeff Bednar said incentives should be based on individual situations.

“It should be incentive-driven based on the number of jobs, the quality of jobs and the guarantee that the jobs will stay in place,” Bednar said.

Michael Weinmann, candidate for the council member-at-large seat, said communication is key as the council brainstorms ideas for attracting new businesses. Weinmann said council members should have conversations with businesses that recently relocated to Austin to find out what attracted them to the city.

Rental property management

The candidates expressed similar thoughts on the topic of regulating rental property management in the city, saying that landlords need to be more responsible for their property.

Weinmann said landlords who live outside of Austin need to have a representative in Austin who can check on the property on a regular basis to ensure it is being well maintained.

Roger Boughton, challenger from Ward 2, agreed with Weinmann. He said the city needs to have more communication with landlords who live outside of Austin.