Waller, Helle declare for 1st Ward seats
Published 6:48 pm Friday, May 27, 2022
Current councilwoman Rebecca Waller and Laura Helle have filed papers to run for city council in 1st Ward.
Waller is running for reelection with the other 1st Ward seat being vacated by Oballa Oballa, who is running for the At Large seat.
Waller is in her first term on the City Council and has enjoyed and embraced the opportunity to serve her constituents and the community as a whole.
“I’m rerunning because I’ve really enjoyed the council experience so far in the community,” Waller said. “I really want to continue to grow our city.”
“I want to continue to build on what we have and hopefully the residents and constituents will see some of the things I’ve done,” she added.
Waller said she is passionate in her work and stressed that she will continue to do what she can for anybody who comes to her with concerns.
“For me, I’m really here for our community,” she said. “I’m not political. I’m here for the people and what they need and what they want. They can come and talk to me. I’ll see what I can do for whatever issue to make it better.”
One of the things Waller pointed to that she would like to continue working on is the housing issue, which she said has seen some very positive steps in recent years.
But she also stressed that she wants to continue being a voice for the community and that she’s willing to continue pushing forward if elected.
“I’m willing to fight for things I believe in,” Waller said. “For me, you have to have a drive and passion to do this. I’m willing to do what it takes to fight for what is right in our community.”
Missing the service
Laura Helle was elected to one term in 1st Ward in 2016, but decided not to run again in 2020 to clear some room for Oballa to run for the seat.
However, she also found that she missed the work.
“I’m happy with the choice, but I miss it,” Helle said. “I miss working with people in the city. I think we’ve got a really wonderful team there.”
If elected, Helle also points to the housing crunch in Austin as being a top issue. While strides have been made, she remains concerned about the lack of multiple family housing.
With her prior service, Helle feels she has the experience necessary to give her a running start.
“I would argue that I have a head start on understanding a tight budget,” Helle said. “Not everybody totally understands when making a decision for the City of Austin, it’s a $14 million budget. The city employs like 150 people. You can’t make a decision based on one particular neighborhood.”
Through her time on a variety of different community organizations, Helle feels she also has the right contacts to be a viable option for City Council.
“I feel like I have a really good knowledge base, which is helpful,” Helle said. “I also feel like I have a lot of relationships throughout the community, the county and non profit and community leaders.”
“I really want to concentrate on cooperating with the mayor and other people on the City Council,” she continued. “I think Austin is a little too small for people to get entrenched and try to block someone else’s agenda.”