Early Voting Starts Today. Here’s My Austin Voter Guide.

5 min readApr 19, 2021

Early voting in Austin starts today. We are not voting for elected officials, but make no mistake, this is an incredible consequential and influential election in Austin, making our government more accountable, democratic and less influenced by special interests.

Here’s my personal voting guide:

Prop A: YES

This would ensure the firefighter’s union and City of Austin would go into arbitration in order to settle labor negotiations that have reached an impasse.

Prop B: NO

This proposition would criminalize people experiencing homelessness, forcing people to live in creek beds and other dangerous places in hiding while the City develops a supportive housing strategy. Read the essay below if you’d like more perspective on why voting “NO” on Prop B is so critical for Austin.

Prop C: YES

This would bring more independence to the Office of Police Oversight at a time when police accountability has never been more important.

Prop D: YES

Switching Mayoral elections to Presidential years is a move that would bring out higher voter turnout in Austin for our most important citywide office.

Prop E: YES

Ranked choice voting is the most pro-democracy method known today for electing representatives, removing the need for costly runoffs that rely on low voter turnout and special interests.

Prop F: YES

The ballot language is intentionally written poorly to dissuade your support, but this would make the most powerful person in Austin’s city government an actual elected official instead of the Jim Crow Era office known as City Manager (installed in the 1920s) which is unelected and slow to address City issues due to a lack of accountability to voters. Read this op-ed published in the Austin American-Statesman I wrote about my support for Proposition F.

Prop G: YES

This would create an 11th City Council district and enable greater demographic representation.

Prop H: YES

This proposition would reduce the influence of big money in local politics by enabling all voters, regardless of income level, to participate.

Why I’m Voting “NO” on Proposition B

Today, I want to write a few words about Prop B. As you know, Austin has a homelessness problem. This is directly tied to Austin’s affordability and housing issues not to mention the racial and policing histories of the city. In short, Prop B would criminalize people experiencing homelessness in a way that is neither an embodiment of empathy nor our city’s values including responsibility, accountability, sustainability and integrity. Will homelessness stop being an issue in Austin if Prop B passes? No. Will people experiencing homeless be safer if Prop B passes? No. Does Prop B put a better plan in place to house people experiencing homelessness? No.

Prop B does one thing: it makes the “problem” of homelessness go out of the sight lines of people in Austin who are most offended by having to confront the aforementioned city issues up close.

Was the repeal of the camping ban a mistake? Well that depends on what we quality as a mistake.

Austin is segregated along racial and economic lines because of a City Plan. Is that a mistake?

Austin is troubled by traffic stemming from an Interstate highway that runs through the heart of Downtown. Is that a mistake?

Austin has a housing shortage that is further exacerbating displacement and gentrification on the East Side. Is that a mistake?

Austin failed to update its land development code in 2018 partially contributing to the lack of housing supply and exorbitant home and rent increases in the last year. Is that a mistake?

Austin has a vibrant tech community and ecosystem that largely excludes people of color including thousands of our neighbors who don’t have access to high-speed Internet. Is that a mistake?

I could go on and on.

Austin has so many mistakes that rate so much higher, both personally and historically, than people experiencing homelessness being able to tent in public so what’s the difference here?

The segregation doesn’t negatively impact people who support this well-funded “Save Austin Now PAC” driving the Prop B campaign.

The traffic doesn’t impact people able to work remotely or choose their own hours, like many of us in tech and West Austin, nearly as much as those priced further away from their workplaces like day laborers, service industry professionals or front-line workers.

The housing shortage doesn’t nearly hurt people making six figures in high-earning industries as much as the working and middle class people who’ve been forced to re-locate to Pflugerville, Round Rock, Buda or other outer-lying areas not to mention Austinites now moving to San Antonio where the cost of living is closer to Austin’s of just a few years ago.

The lack of a land development code mostly hurts perpetual renters and people at the lower end of the home-buying market who are continuously being priced out of both homeownership and renting in the urban core.

The tech industry thriving is a narrative that reflects how West Austin wants to be perceived much better than the true story of the industry further contributing to income disparity in the city.

Uber and Lyft being somewhat forced out of Austin a couple years ago was a driving force that finally got the tech industry and young affluent people in Austin to get involved at the local government level because they fully understood how it impacted their lives.

Similarly, Prop B is a lightning rod of an issue in Austin right now because affluent — mostly white, let’s be honest — people in Austin are being impacted by the sight of homelessness up close and on the trail among other places.

The fact that the Uber and Lyft issue was “fixed” so swiftly and that, now, Prop B is an attempt to “fix” this homelessness issue swiftly doesn’t speak to a community of people fully invested in the equity, inclusion and sustainability of this city as much as it speaks to the old adage that “money talks” and when people with access and affluence and an appetite for self-serving political reform, the financial wherewithal, sense of urgency and political will is suddenly there at the ready.

Yet when these larger problems facing our city, these bigger mistakes, these deeper issues around racial inequality and lack of affordability and police brutality and broadband disparity and the like negatively impact the lives of tens of thousands in our city, the people behind “Save Austin Now” are not nearly as ready, willing and able to jump at the opportunity to be heard, raise funds, write a check, show up at Council meetings or forums, sign petitions, or support much-needed reforms to improve lives.

So, no, I won’t be voting for Prop B. I hope you don’t either.




I believe. I have ideas and turn some into businesses. Sometimes I run long distances. Chris Nolan, ATCQ, Lake Como & Murakami are my favorites. @joahspearman