Helle, Fischer win council seats

Published 10:32 am Wednesday, November 9, 2016

New blood is coming to the Austin City Council.

Challengers Laura Helle, 40, and Paul Fischer, 50, unseated incumbents Michael Jordal and Jeremy Carolan in Tuesday’s election. In Ward 1, Helle received 1,621 votes (54.29 percent) to Jordal’s 1,358 (45.48 percent). In Ward 3, Fischer received 1,311 votes (51.63 percent) to Carolan’s (47.89 percent).

Helle said she’s excited and will focus on three main things: 1. listening to everyone to make sure all voices are heard,  2. finding common ground and starting from and building from there, and 3. taking a proactive approach to bettering Austin, which could include looking at what’s working in other communities for ideas.

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“I’m humbled,” Helle said Wednesday morning. “I think that there’s a lot of responsibility as a community leader, especially given how divisive the national elections were. So I feel really responsible for bringing our community together and focusing on our common ground and building a better community for everyone.”

Fischer was also pleased with his victory, noting he fell asleep with no results reported and awoke this morning to congratulatory messages from friends.


“I was thankful for the votes that I got,” he said.

After the City Council voted on key issues like the Austin Community Recreation Center and Austin Housing Initiative earlier this year, Fischer said there aren’t big, divisive issues facing the council right now, which will give him time to transition into the job and get up to speed early next year.

Helle thanked the voters, her campaign team and her family, noting she’s going to research to be ready to hit the ground running once she takes office in January.

“There’s a lot of issues facing the city,” she said, referring to issues like Austin’s housing shortage and others.

She also thanked Jordal for his service and all the work he put into his four years as a council member.

After a divisive national election, Helle reiterated she wants to bring people together around the thing’s people have in common, noting people agree on far more issues than most think at first glance.

“I’m just going to get to work,” Helle said.

Moving forward, Fischer urged the public to contact him with the concerns at any time.

“I’m here to serve my constituents, to represent them and to make decisions based on how they feel,” he said.

“Thank you for the votes. … I’ll work hard for you.” he added

Helle is director of grants and alumni relations at Riverland Community College and is the former director of vision creation for Vision 2020. She is married to teacher Matt Stobaugh and has an 8-year-old daughter.

Paul Fischer, 50, is an account manager for Alpha Media and is active with Vision 2020 and the Salvation Army. He has two children, Evan and Katara.

Mayor Tom Stiehm and 2nd Ward Council member Steve King won re-election after running unopposed.

Tyler Hulsebus, Tom Sherman and Thomas Baudler were all elected to the Austin Utilities Board.