Today Frank P. Ward III became the first conservative with a capital “C” to join this year’s field of City Council candidates. By that I mean Ward is a member of what would generally be described as the conservative movement. In other words, he’s a Republican.
His resume very much fits the profile of an “Austin Republican.” According to Linkedin:
He’s spent the last seven years in public affairs, most recently as a partner at The Mach 1 Group, a local boutique PR shop with close ties to Republicans, the oil industry and Lance Armstrong.
He spent a coupla years working at the Lege for Sen. Florence Shapiro, a DFW Republican who clashed with tea partiers over education funding.
He spent two years working with the Export-Import Bank.
He spent a year writing speeches for U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla.
He spent a year doing something for George W.
You get the idea. He’s a Chamber of Commerce Republican (Clarification: I’m referring to the business ethos, not specifically the Austin Chamber). Or, in the parlance of the alt-right, a “globalist cuck.”
Ward’s own announcement was preceded by an endorsement from outgoing Council Member Ellen Troxclair, the last Republican standing on the 11-member Council dais. To wit:
Frank will be our voice of reason on the Council, someone who we can look to to ensure that growth pays for itself and that our tax dollars are spent wisely on basic city services like public safety, infrastructure, and parks. He has earned my unwavering support and I’m proud to endorse him for Austin City Council.
Funny. The concept of ensuring that “growth pays for itself” is usually what you hear from neighborhood preservationists who complain that developers are not forced to pay for the impact of growth on infrastructure, city services etc. That’s not something I would expect to hear from Troxclair. But oh well.
Let’s hear what Frank has to say for himself.
While Austin is unlike any city in America, its grasp on what makes it “weird” and wonderful seems to be slowly slipping away. With the unsustainable rise in property taxes, stupefying traffic and mobility challenges, and a cumbersome regulatory regime that makes individuals want to pull out their hair and small businesses question whether they either want to stay in Austin or possibly relocate here, there must be a better way.
Our extremely able and hard-driving City Council member, Ellen Troxclair, has served with distinction. There’s a reason why she was the youngest woman ever elected to City Council in Austin. She is a difference-maker. We have been fortunate to have our voices and interests represented by such a strong and reliable fighter for what I like to call “real Austin.”
I’d be interested to understand who is a part of the “real Austin.” I have this inkling that they’re not the folks who made Austin “weird.” But perhaps by “weird” Ward is referring to bowtie-clad Republicans. They are indeed an increasingly endangered species in these here parts.
In the rest of his 710-word introduction, Ward focuses on property taxes, regulations and transportation. As you might expect from a Circle C Republican, he frames transportation entirely as an issue of cars and roads.
He does not specifically touch upon the most significant regulatory reform facing the city: CodeNEXT. I sense he may be taking a page from Troxclair’s book and de-emphasizing land use issues.
While there are few government regulations more intrusive than zoning, the problem facing Republican candidates is that many Republican voters like strict zoning regulations. They like the assurance that their suburban lifestyle will not be threatened by big buildings or the poorer/younger people who tend to live in them. They like knowing that there will be a giant parking lot welcoming them at every destination.
What are Ward’s chances? Certainly nothing to sniff at. If it were a head-to-head race between Ward and one of the liberal candidates, I’d definitely put my money on the liberal winning on Nov. 6 as the result of a motivated liberal base that turns out to vote against Trump/Abbott/Cruz etc. Remember, although District 8 is conservative for Austin, Hillary Clinton easily carried it over Trump.
But the crowded field of candidates in District 8 means that there will most likely be a run-off election in December between the two top vote-getters. That will be a low turnout affair, making it much more likely that a Republican candidate could win.