‘Empty nester’ targets unity for Council

Published 8:51 am Thursday, May 31, 2012

Candidate Profile: Lynn Spainhower for City Council

Lynn Spainhower, a single mother of two boys, set a goal for herself years ago to accomplish once her children had left and she had a bit more time.


“I always told myself when I became an empty nester, I’d get more involved in politics,” she said.

Now both her boys are leaving to serve in the Navy, and Spainhower has her eye on a seat with the Austin City Council. She filed to run on May 22 and currently runs unopposed for the 3rd Ward seat Council Member Marian Clennon — who is running for mayor — will give up at the end of the term.

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“The timing was just right,” she said. “The boys are heading out, and I have more time on my hands.” She felt there was a lot she could contribute, especially with the community betterment project Vision 2020 starting.

Spainhower said her opinions differ from Clennon on some matters. Her main focus with the council would be to work on the cohesiveness of its members.

“I’d like to be a team player,” she said. It will be the council’s job to ensure that Vision 2020 gets going responsibly, she said. The city shouldn’t let the project strap the community financially.

Spainhower was born in Austin, where her father worked for Hormel Foods Corp. At a young age, she moved with her family to southern California and grew up there.

“I’ve been back in the city for about 19 years,” she said. She did in-home child care for nine years, then served as director for Catherwood Home Child Care in Austin for about 11 years. She currently works for the Service Employees International Union, which organizes support staff in schools, she said.

Spainhower said he has always been one to be active in the community. She served on the Planning Commission for eight years, and was a chairperson part of that time. She said the experience was great training ground for moving to the next step as a council member.

Her experience includes advocacy efforts. She was district coordinator for Child Care Works! from 2004 to 2006. She said she partnered with Sen. Dan Sparks and Rep. Jeanne Poppe, both DFL-Austin, to create and pass into law a variance for Catherwood Home Child Care in Austin that made it possible to keep a licensed provider on-site 24 hours a day and increased the capacity limits to accommodate more children during transition hours.

For the moment, Spainhower said, she wants to find out what the priorities and burning issues are for citizens in Ward 3.

“The only way you’re going to do that is by door knocking and talking to your neighbors,” she said. Being a union organizer, that’s nothing strange for Spainhower.

“I’m a very effective communicator,” she said, adding her greatest strength is mobilizing people for a cause.

As for the rest of the council, Steve King has filed for re-election to his Ward 2 seat and Janet Anderson has filed to run for another term as council member at-large. No one has filed to run for the Ward 1 seat currently held by Brian McAlister, who will not be running again. The filing period ends June 5.