representative

Clockwise from top left, Kallen Dimitroff, government junior and University-wide representative, Mohammed Nabulsi, law student, law school representative and co-author of the resolution, Mukund Rathi, computer science senior and co-author of the resolution and Jonathan Barak Dror, economics sophomore and University-wide representative debate the passing of the divestment resolution at the Student Government meeting Tuesday evening.

Photo Credit: Mariana Gonzalez | Daily Texan Staff

After weeks of contentious debate, the Student Government Assembly voted against a divestment resolution which would have asked the UT System Investment Management Company (UTIMCO) to pull investments from five corporations that the resolution claimed “facilitate in the oppression of the Palestinian people by the State of Israel.”  

The Assembly voted against the resolution by a 11–23–1 vote Tuesday night.

The resolution asked UTIMCO to divest specifically from Alstom, Cemex, Hewlett-Packard, Procter & Gamble and United Technologies because of “human rights violations,” according to the resolution. 

University-wide representative Santiago Rosales said he voted against the resolution because he thought it was too divisive to support.

“I do not mean to say that either side is divisive in itself but rather that the approach of [the resolution] is divisive in nature,” Rosales said. “This student government has taken unified approaches of bridging differences in this campus, bringing students together to bring meaningful change.”

After the vote, many students who had lobbied in support of the resolution protested outside of the Assembly room, voicing opposition to the decision. University of Texas Police Department officers came to monitor the scene.

English junior Josephine Lawson, a co-author of the divestment resolution, reacts with other students after the Assembly did not pass the resolution. Mariana Gonzalez | Daily Texan Staff

UTIMCO CEO and CIO Bruce Zimmerman said the company makes investment decisions solely based on the financial interest of the University and so would not have taken the resolution into consideration even if it had passed.

“The current policy is not to take into account political and social considerations,” Zimmerman said. “That’s a long standing policy, and it’s a policy supported by staff.”

Mohammed Nabulsi, SG law representative and an author of the resolution, said the authors wanted to pass the resolution despite UTIMCO’s stance on divestment based on political and social issues.

“What we’re doing with this resolution is saying, irrespective of what [UTIMCO has] already said, our student body continues, continues, continues to support divesting from human rights abuses,” Nabulsi said. “This is just following in line with other resolutions Student Government has
already passed.”

The 2010–2011 SG Assembly passed a resolution asking UTIMCO to revise its policies to include consideration of social policy. The divestment resolution also cited precedent from the 2014–2015 SG session, during which the Assembly passed a resolution calling for divestment from companies that facilitate genocide in Sudan.

The resolution was based out of a national boycott-sanctioning-divestment, or “BDS,” movement started by Palestinian human rights groups. Nabulsi told the Texan on April 9 that Unify Texas, a student organization opposing the BDS resolution, does not understand the BDS movement.

“Unify Texas relies on a mischaracterization of BDS and our goals here on campus in order to make a straw man argument,” Nabulsi said. “BDS is a step towards leveling the negotiating playing field so that the Israeli government is forced to take Palestinian demands seriously.”

Earlier Tuesday, 17 former SG presidents and vice presidents sent a letter to the current Assembly, asking them not to vote in favor of the resolution.

“As our former student body presidents have said — the people who care most about our University — it is not our place to support this philosophy,” University-wide representative Kallen Dimitroff said. “The alienation it would cause certain groups on campus, the stance and precedent it would set for student government, would be very detrimental.”

Carmel Abuzaid, a international relations and global studies freshman and supporter of divestment, said passing the resolution would specifically recognize the oppression she and other UT students have experienced in Palestine firsthand. 

“Passing this resolution would not only recognize my experiences as valid but would also unify the University against injustice and oppression,” Abuzaid said.

Maya Russo, an international relations and global studies sophomore who spoke in opposition to the resolution, said she felt personally targeted. 

“This is not a human rights legislation, nor is it one that promotes justice. This is an anti-Israel legislation,” Russo said. “This hateful rhetoric that is directed at my people and at me personally is one-sided. … This is a step in the wrong direction toward the ultimate objective — peace.” 

 

The Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, which is on the UT campus, holds nearly 2,000 Native American human remains, according to Bryant Celestine, a representative from the Alabama-Coushatta tribe of Texas.

UT researchers originally acquired the human remains from excavations during New Deal-era public works’ projects, donations and purchases from private collections and other construction-related excavations, said Marybeth Tomka, head of collections at the laboratory. Celestine said he believes the human remains should belong to their respective tribes.

Bureaucratic requirements within the repatriation process and the historical realities of Texan Native Americans make it difficult for tribes to reclaim and rebury the remains of their ancestors today, according to Celestine and anthropology associate professor Shannon Speed.

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 currently governs the repatriation process for Native American human remains. In order for a tribe to complete the process, the tribe must be federally recognized and must be able to prove its affiliation with the remains in question.

The lack of natively Texan, federally recognized tribes in the country makes it difficult for the remains to reach the tribe that they belong to, Speed said.

“The biggest issue in Texas with regards to repatriation is that we have had many, many tribes over time in this area, but we currently only have three federally recognized tribes, none of which are original to the area,” Speed said. “All the remains are extremely unlikely to be from any one of those tribes, and the appropriate tribes aren’t automatically consulted for [Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act] because they are not federally recognized.”

Celestine said the requirement to prove the human remains’ affiliation with documentation hinders many tribes’ ability to repatriate remains because existing research has incorrect information.

“A lot of times the information that is in those documents is not necessarily from the native point of view,” Celestine said. “They contain assumptions that have been made over time based on one researcher’s experience, and at some point, it becomes the law of the land and anything that challenges that is normally disrespected and ignored. It impedes upon some tribes ability to get repatriation in certain instances.”

Tomka said the laboratory has recently undertaken new initiatives to reach out to tribes native to Texas living outside of the state and to make honest efforts in finding and using reliable information to ensure that all tribes have a fair opportunity to claim their ancestors.

“It’s just best policy to start the consultation process as soon as possible [and] as fair as possible,” Tomka said. “It works out for everybody because then nobody feels like they are being ignored [and] nobody feels like they are being stepped on or put aside. So we ask, ‘We are going into an area that is in your native lands. What would you like us to do?’”

ESB dismisses allegations of collaboration between Long and Jones-Dargahi, citing insufficient evidence

In the final hours of runoff voting, the Election Supervisory Board dismissed allegations that Executive Alliance candidates Braydon Jones and Kimia Dargahi failed to identify a student as a worker in their campaign.

Defeated presidential candidate David Maly sent a complaint to the board late Wednesday evening, claiming that an email from re-elected Liberal Arts Representative Tanner Long, urging newly elected representatives to vote for Jones and Dargahi in the executive alliance runoff election, was a “clear collaboration between Long and the Jones-Dargahi alliance.”

“The complainant could not prove that coordination between the Executive Alliance and Tanner Long existed prior to Tanner Long’s email being sent to new ‘Officers Elect,’” the resolution read.

In Long’s email to the representatives, he encouraged the newly elected representatives to vote for Jones-Dargahi.

“These positions require the political savvy that Braydon and Kimia have already demonstrated during their past SG positions,” Long wrote. “I’m not sure I can say the same for their opponents.”

Long said he hoped the representatives would vote for, and advocate for, Jones’ campaign.

“This runoff election is more important than ever because Student Government needs legitimacy to function properly,” Long wrote. “I ask that you support Braydon and Kimia in the runoff election  I also ask you for your direct support in their effort. As representatives, we can have a lot of credibility with our constituents. And with that comes the responsibility to ensure that Student Government is as legitimate as it can be.”

Long concluded the email by saying said it was “his understanding” that Jones would be contacting them later that day to invite them to a special campaign event. Although Long and Jones said they did not discuss the event together, Maly said he believes otherwise.

“I think it’s ridiculous to say that Tanner just assumed that Braydon would be inviting these people,” Maly said. “I don’t think he would send an email to all these people, saying that Braydon was going to be contacting you to invite you to this event, unless he knew that was going to happen. I think it’s clear that collaboration took place, which would make Mr. Long a worker.”  

Long sent an affidavit to the board, stating he acted on behalf of no one but himself.

“I acted on my own accord,” Long said. “Others cannot know my own private actions unless I reveal them. I would also like to say I am flattered by Mr. Maly, who seems to believe a voice of support from me just would help to further a candidate.”

Jones said again he was not aware Long was planning to send an email advocating for his campaign.

“I have not once been in contact with Mr. Long regarding that night’s event, or I did not at any point encourage him to reach out to the reps and send an email,” Jones said. “That was all on his own will.”

Maly also said Long acted in association with Student Government, which is illegal by the Election Code. Long’s email signature read “Liberal arts representative.”

“A title does not mean I am speaking on behalf of that position,” Long said. “If that were the case, having the University of Texas on my signature line would imply I’m speaking on behalf of the University to support the candidates.”  

The board ultimately ruled there was insufficient evidence to prove a connection between Long and Jones-Dargahi.

“Therefore, let it be resolved: That after holding a hearing on the morning of Thursday, March 12, 2015, the Election Supervisory Board has determined that the burden of proof has not been met, and the complaint is being dismissed,” the resolution read.

Voting continues until 5 p.m., and results for the Executive Alliance runoff will be announced on the Main Mall at 6 p.m.

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

In a recent op-ed piece, Nicole Kruijs provides an uncharitable and one-sided description of the Rotnofsky-Mandalapu campaign for Student Government president and vice president. She emphasizes the satirical elements of their message without paying heed to the substance that undergirds that satire. Fairness demands a more considerate treatment of their candidacy.

“Jon Stewart is hilarious,” Kruijs says. "But I wouldn't want him to be president of the United States."

This analogy is disingenuous in that it presumes the qualities required of the two offices — president of SG and president of the United States — are identical. This is fallacious. 

As commander-in-chief of the armed forces and custodian of our nuclear arsenal, the president of the United States must obviously possess attributes that extend beyond compassion and a willingness to listen to the people who elected him.

This is not so for the executive officers of Student Government. Their role — their only role — is to be a faithful representative of the student body — the whole student body. Kruijs concedes this much later in her piece. 

Rotnofsky and Mandalapu evince a desire to fulfill such a representative role. As evidence of this fact, I direct the reader's attention to their profile in the Daily Texan, in which Mandalapu provides an eloquent response to the question of what's wrong with Student Government, namely that it's unrepresentative. Mandalapu has noted that only 15 percent of the student body voted in last year's election, which — amusingly — was considered a record turnout.

Mandalapu attributes this lack of participation to the fact that SG has recently been dominated by Greek and spirit organizations, an arrangement that inhibits less represented student organizations from receiving SG funding. While I can’t prove this beyond a reasonable doubt, I do have reason to believe it is true. As treasurer of UT's Undergraduate Classics Society, I have seen SG and Senate financial officers ignore my organization’s request to borrow the required credit card after completing the mandatory steps to receive funding for an event.

Without attributing any malicious motives to the other two candidates, I do assert that they undeniably fit the profile of the unrepresentative elements whose influence within SG is alleged to be disproportionate. This is precisely why I support the Rotnofsky-Mandalapu ticket: a consideration of what the two campaigns stand for. That students do not engage in such a consideration is no fault of their campaign. 

Kruijs also suggests that the Jones-Dargahi slate, unlike Rotnofsky and Mandalapu, will "listen to you" as the official representatives of the student body. This allegation I find generic, insincere and unsubstantiated.

Consider the recent Assembly resolution to remove the Jefferson Davis statue from the Main Mall. Rotnofsky and Mandalapu, taking into account the discomfort the statue's presence creates for students of color, are taking action to bring about its removal. Though Jones admittedly signed on as a co-sponsor, this resolution should be adduced as an example of the Rotnofsky-Mandalapu ticket's willingness to listen to students. I find it more reassuring than a Twitter hashtag. 

Indeed, all the measures Kruijs attributes to the Jones-Dargahi ticket — "building bridges across communities," for instance — are ill defined; they're broad, and what's more, they're not accompanied by specific examples of how Jones and Dargahi propose to accomplish such an objective, other than "relationships" (more on that below).

This is precisely the sort of electoral laziness that Rotnofsky and Mandalapu seek to ridicule when they propose Adam Sandler movies as a method by which the Assembly and the Executive Board can develop greater rapport. I find their humorous attempts to underscore the insincerity of conventional responses to such issues less insulting that their opponents' assumption that they can walk away with the election with empty phrases. Kruijs seems to assume that the campaign's satire is gratuitous, that it isn't directed at any systemic shortcomings. This I find overly simplistic. 

Finally, Kruijs attributes the connections Jones has established with alumni, faculty and administrators during a time of administrative transition as reasons to support his candidacy. She provides no assurances that such connections are representative — that they fulfill precisely the role she says SG should play in conveying the concerns of the student body to higher authorities (I find the allegation that any bill adopted by state legislators depended upon the support of a UT student ludicrous on its face; Kruijs provides no evidence — short of the fact that she and her colleagues "voiced their support" — that Jones was instrumental in SR 11's or AR 30's passage). I would appreciate confirmation that Jones can use his connections responsibly, or at the very least evidence suggesting he is capable of so doing. 

Dean-Jones is a Plan II, history and classics senior from Austin. He is not officially involved in the Rotnofsky-Mandalapu campaign.

Editor’s Note: There are eight University-wide representative positions, for which 15 candidates are running. Eighty percent of University-wide representative candidates responded to the Daily Texan Candidate Questionnaire, and we judged the candidates based on the quality of their written responses as well as their performance at Monday’s candidate debate. All photos were provided by the candidates. Voting takes place Wednesday and Thursday at utexasvote.org.

 

Kallen Dimitroff, history and government junior

Kallen Dimitroff has been involved in numerous school organizations in her three years at UT. She previously worked as a first-year representative and a Liberal Arts representative in Student Government. With this experience, she is inspired to create a yearly conference sponsored by SG in which leaders from every major student group discuss issues of importance. She’s devoted to increasing unity on campus and helping students get connected. We strongly recommend Dimitroff.

 

John Falke, BHP, finance and government sophomore

John Falke is committed to student participation in the University. With ideas involving larger and more involved student organization fairs and an increased emphasis on student organizations at freshman orientation, Falke wants students to recognize all their options. As a current member of the Assembly, Falke has the experience needed to be an effective representative of all UT students and a desire to improve the internal culture of SG. We strongly recommend Falke.

 

Anika Agarwal, biomedical engineering freshman

Anika Agarwal does not believe that Student Government cannot effect real change. By “getting the student body more involved in the process of student government and by making the process of enacting legislation more transparent, SG can effectively mitigate this misconception,” Agarwal believes. This freshman’s solutions to campus issues like hours of operation in dining halls and bus route timing are practical and appeal to all ages and types of students. We endorse Agarwal.

 

Hayley Cook, advertising junior

Hayley Cook believes firmly in a “commitment to excellence” and strives to be a good leader. We were impressed to see that she has a specific goal targeting the availability of online recording of lectures to students on campus, and using technology to document SG progress. We liked her idea that by engaging and informing students, SG has an opportunity to empower the student population at UT. We recommend Cook.

 

Alejandrina Guzman, psychology sophomore

Alejandrina Guzman is dedicated to improving handicap accessibility around campus because she does not believe the amenities in place are enough. Guzman displays an initiative to speak on behalf of a group not always represented in Student Government. For her interests in student safety and updated accessibility, we recommend Guzman.

 

Kevin Helgren, psychology and neuroscience senior

As a newcomer to SG, Kevin Helgren makes up for his lack of experience with passion. Helgren believes in transparency and plans to implement an open-door policy — complete with monthly assemblies open to the student body —  if elected. Helgren has the drive and unique perspective to turn this campus around. We recommend Helgren.

 

Santiago Rosales, finance and economics freshman

Santiago Rosales is well aware of the necessary improvements that need to be made within SG and the University as whole. A first-year representative, he cited outreach as a major source of improvement, as well as internal communication. His long term goal is to “see a stronger UT challenge the Ivy League and lead the nation in research and alumni notoriety. That begins with a firm investment in the student life of my peers and a dedication to opening more doors for all students at UT.” We recommend Rosales.

 

Spencer Schredder, economics and international relations & global studies junior

Spencer Schredder understands the problems that exist within Student Government. For him, accountability and ethics play a large role in his life and will surely transfer over if elected. He plans on opening clear lines of communication between SG and the student population as well as increasing cross-cultural understanding and eliminating wasteful spending that could easily be more responsibly allocated to deserving groups and causes. We recommend Schredder.

Photo Credit: Daily Texan Staff

Thanks for watching our live stream of the SG debate. For more coverage,  Click here to view our interactive database of all campus-wide candidates and their platforms and follow us on Twitter for the latest news.

Tonight at 7:00 p.m., watch as Daily Texan editor-in-chief Riley Brands moderates a debate between the Executive Alliance and University-Wide Representative candidates for the 2015 Student Government elections. For live-tweets from the debate, follow news editor Julia Brouillette at @juliakbrou

Want to get caught up on each candidate? Click here to view our interactive database of all campus-wide candidates and their platforms.

Voting will take place on Wednesday and Thursday at utexasvote.org.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Anika Agarwal and Sammy Minkowitz | Daily Texan Staff

The Election Supervisory Board suspended two Student Government candidates, University-wide representative candidate Anika Agarwal and Liberal Arts representative candidate Sammy Minkowitz, from campaigning for two days.

In a majority opinion, the Board concluded that Agarwal and Minkowitz violated the election code of “prohibited association” by showing support for other candidates. 

Graduate school representative candidate Katherine Jensen submitted a complaint to the Board, saying Agarwal solicited votes on behalf of Minkowitz via social media. In the complaint, Jensen said Agarwal’s support of Minkowitz on Facebook showed a clear collaboration between the two campaigns because Minkowitz did not “untag” herself in Agarwal’s endorsement photo in the two days following the original post.

“Sammy and Anika were kind of confused on whether they were associated,” Molina said. 

Agarwal said Minkowitz asked her to make her campaign photo Agarwal’s profile picture on Facebook, and Agarwal instead shared the photo on her Facebook wall. Agarwal said she did not consider her actions to be co-campaigning because she did not share the photo within her campaign page. 

“I didn’t really see it as co-campaigning,” Agarwal said. “It was a miscommunication and forgetting how open Facebook can be.”

Minkowitz said she had similar misunderstandings as to what co-campaigning meant. 

“I thought of co-campaigning as putting two candidates’ names on the same poster, two candidates speaking together or two candidates posting a campaign photo with both faces,” Minkowitz said. “I didn’t think I was co-campaigning, and nobody told me what I was doing wrong.”

Jensen also said Minkowitz showed public support for University-wide representative candidate Jonathan Dror. On Facebook, Minkowitz clicked that she was going to the event “Vote for Jonathan Dror,” and she also liked his Facebook page. The Board found that Dror was not in violation of the code.

According to the election code, candidates can not support other candidates unless the candidates are running together in an Executive Alliance campaign for Student Government president and vice president.  

“We take the prohibited association clause very seriously,” Board chair Nick Molina said. “We don’t want any students to get the idea that two candidates can run together.”

In their resolution, the Board said Agarwal was in direct violation of the election Code and Minkowitz received undue benefits from the prohibited association. Both candidates are suspended from campaigning between 7 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Monday. 

“Except in cases of a bona fide executive alliance as provided for in this code, no candidate is allowed to contribute financially or provide any other form of tangible support, including but not limited to campaign materials, to another candidate’s campaign,” the code says.

In addition to a temporary ban from campaigning, the Board required that Agarwal and Minkowitz no longer spend 10 percent of their total available campaign funds for their respective campaign races. University-wide representative candidates are allowed to spend $612, and college representative candidates may spend up to $408. 

“The way that I see it, it’s meant to not necessarily hurt the candidates. It’s meant to level the playing field,” Molina said. 

The two will be able to campaign again Monday night in time for the University-wide representative debate. 

Straus' committee picks show his continued pragmatism

The Texas Legislature is an ironic place. Historically, U.S. governments have been set up that are composed of a pragmatic upper house (Senate) and a radical lower house (House of Representatives).  

In Texas, the opposite is true. Nowhere has that become clearer than in the way the leaders of the two respective chambers — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in the Senate and Speaker Joe Straus in the House — have selected the composition and heads of pertinent committees, the lifeblood of legislatures in the modern era. 

Patrick, a bombastic right-wing activist elected last year, quickly made good on his promise to slash the number of committees and boot most all of the Democratic chairs from power. Straus, on the other hand, elected by the House's members in bipartisan fashion, largely retained the pervasiveness of Democratic influence in the lower house. Furthermore, for those Republicans selected to lead committees, many moderates received the most plum assignments

State Representative John Zerwas, R-Richmond, for example, was chosen to lead the House Higher Education Committee. As most media sources quickly noted, Zerwas has recently been a supporter of the Texas Dream Act, which grants in-state tuition at state universities such as this one to undocumented immigrants. State Representative John Otto, R-Dayton, meanwhile, was selected as the new chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, which is tasked with the enviable position of writing the state's budget. In a recent analysis by Rice University, Otto was noted as the fifth most liberal Republican in the legislature while Zerwas was rated the third . 

Roughly a third of committees will be headed by Democrats, mirroring the proportion of the House itself occupied by the minority party. Most of these committees are rather insignificant, but others are invaluable. The transportation committee will be chaired by state Representative Joe Pickett, D-El Paso. State Representative Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, the second-longest serving member of the legislature, will continue at the helm of Local & Consent Calendars, one of the most powerful committees under the dome. 

The most zealous conservatives, specifically the ones who voted against Straus last month for speaker, were unsurprisingly punished. Special Purposes Districts Committee immediately comes to mind. 

In continuing his pragmatic and bipartisan approach to House administration, Straus has sent a message back to Patrick: The House will continue being a bastion of real government solutions to problems and not just a breeding ground for right-wing pipe dreams, no matter what the Senate descends into.  

Horwitz is the Senior Associate Editor.

Photo Credit: Mariana Munoz | Daily Texan Staff

After a group of Student Government representatives sought his removal, Chris Jordan, SG chief of staff, will be monitored by assembly members for compliance with SG policy and behavior.

At the SG meeting Tuesday, Jessica Sherman, external affairs committee chair, announced that there would be a new code of conduct and expectations implemented as a zero-tolerance policy to address the responsibilities and behavior of an executive member. 

The announcement came after members of the assembly attempted to remove Jordan from office. A draft of a document, titled “In Support of Chris Jordan’s Removal From Office,” called for his removal, listing reasons behind the assembly’s decision. According to Cameron Crane, College of Natural Sciences representative, the anonymously written document was supported by over 20 assembly members and was intended for internal sharing. Currently, no formal document is required to remove an individual from an appointment.

According to Crane, who said he did not contribute to the document, assembly members had been sharing and contributing to it over the past week. 

The document outlines claims of Jordan’s alleged misconduct, which include Jordan’s supposed failure to release interview notes for external and internal positions in April. The document claims his actions were intentional and that he was aware of the rules requiring the notes to be released. 

According to the document, Jordan has also “exhibited patterns of bullying and physical aggression.” In addition, it stated Jordan failed to communicate with his agency directors and other UT-related entities, claiming he did not file impact reports and poorly handled a proposed Austin City Council debate.

“I don’t think that he has been doing the duties outlined for his position,” Austin Ferguson, College of Fine Arts representative, said in an email. “His lack of transparency and initiative in ensuring that communication is upheld has been the thing that I have picked up on the most. This, in turn, has created some tension between the various branches.”

Jordan’s biggest concern, he said, is the behavioral accusations made against him, including a claim that he shoved Sergio Cavazos, College of Liberal Arts representative, at last week’s meeting. As a result, he notified the Office of the Dean of Students about the document.

“I want to feel safe and feel that I have the opportunity to defend myself because some of this is constructive criticism, and I’d be happy to sit down and talk about it, and we can go down the list, but some of it is just not true,” Jordan said.  

Members of the executive board and the assembly discussed the accusations with Jordan before Tuesday’s SG meeting. Crane — who was present at the meeting, along with Cavazos and Tanner Long, also a College of Liberal Arts representative — said the group decided to implement the code of conduct announced at the meeting once Jordan left. Crane said this compromise would best represent the assembly’s concerns and suggestions as a whole.

According to the assembly board, a group of six SG representatives that speak for the assembly — Braydon Jones, Melysa Barth, Jamie Nalley, Sherman, Cavazos, Chandler Foster and Shannon Geison — communication has been their biggest problem with Jordan this year.

“For the most part, the legislative branch has no knowledge of what agencies are doing internally and externally,” the board said in an email sent by Geison. “[Jordan] can absolutely fix it by apologizing and sharing how he plans to move forward.”

SG President Kori Rady said he stopped Jordan’s removal prior to Tuesday’s meeting in favor of the compromise announced at the meeting. Rady would like to see this code applied to other SG members, not just Jordan.

“I’m the leader of the organization,” Rady said. “And when I see that there is misinformation [and] miscommunication, it is my job to connect the different parties who are not aligned and [make] sure they are on the same page.”

Jordan said he walked into Tuesday’s meeting thinking he was going to be impeached after seeing the document. Although impeachment and removal from office are two different processes, Jordan said they send the same message. 

“What it is is that they don’t have faith in me to do my job and are removing me from my job,” Jordan said. 

District 9 candidates Erin McGann, Kathie Tovo and Chris Riley discuss transportation issues at an Austin City Council forum Thursday evening.

Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

The three candidates vying to be the first District 9 representative in the newly restructured Austin City Council discussed public transportation, affordability and Sixth Street safety at a forum Thursday hosted by the city’s Ethics Review Commission and the League of Women Voters.

In 2013, Austin voters approved reformatting the council from six citywide elected members to a district representation system made up of 10 members. The mayor will continue to be elected citywide. Under the new system, much of the University, downtown Austin, West Campus and Hyde Park are located in District 9. The new council will be elected in November and take office in January. 

Council members Kathie Tovo and Chris Riley, and Erin McGann, a program supervisor in the Department of Criminal Justice, are competing for the first District 9 council seat. 

At Thursday’s forum, held at the Palmer Events Center, McGann said she was running because the council had become out of touch with the city and criticized its approval of the urban rail. McGann also said the proposed urban rail would not actually decrease traffic, and suggested more parking lots would help alleviate the growing traffic problem.  

“The proposed rail will continue the trend towards unaffordability in Austin,” McGann said. “I will fight to audit all departments for waste, corruptions. We owe it to Austin to be completely transparent in spending and taxes.”

Riley said making bike sharing available at Austin’s larger events would help traffic and parking problems.

“We can make some city facilities available for parking,” Riley said. “I’ve sponsored resolutions to make sure we are appropriately managing those resources. Parking is a resource and it needs to be managed carefully, thoughtfully and responsibly.”

According to Tovo, neighborhoods without off-street parking may have trouble if driveways are small or residents need to find parking for friends.

“One of the things we can do to make sure we can preserve the quality of life in our neighborhoods is to pay attention to things like parking,” Tovo said.

The candidates also addressed affordable housing. Riley said District 9 is a diverse area with need for a wide variety of housing.

“Currently, we’re not doing a very good job of providing the options that are needed to meet every housing need that’s out there,” Riley said. “It serves everyone’s interests to have a great diversity of housing options. District 9 is a great place to provide a model for the rest of the city and for the country.”

Tovo said one way of creating more affordable housing would be preserving older houses, as well as requiring developers to provide housing on-site if applying for the city’s density bonus program. 

“Within District 9, I think we have some good opportunities, one in the area of preservation,” Tovo said.  “We also need to look carefully how we use our density bonus programs. We lost millions of dollars of money that could have been used for affordable housing.”

McGann addressed Sixth Street and the safety issues that accompany its popularity.

“I would like to see Austin have a sobriety center,” McGann said. “The center would allow access to people who are not necessarily breaking the law but need somewhere safe if they cannot go home.”

Tovo said the importance of Sixth Street to Austin makes it more imperative to improve safety in the area.

“People need to feel comfortable eating and enjoying the nightlife,” Tovo said. “We need to make sure we have adequate officers in the street.”