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  • Saturday, May 01, 2021
    Local Elections
    Early Voting, Monday, April 19th - Tuesday, April 27th
    Polls are open:
    7:00 AM - 7:00 PM Monday - Saturday
    Sunday, 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM

    http://www.votetravis.com/vexpress/display.do

    Read more about 2021 Propositions here

    “The official positions of the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce for the May 2021 elections were carefully arrived at with our core mission and objective in mind: Supporting the implementation of policy that favors the promotion of Black Business in Central Texas. We believe wholeheartedly in the capacity of our elected officials to consider and include Black business as integral to the success of the Central Texas region at large and to reflect that perspective in the proceedings of policymaking. We encourage all voters in support of our Chambers mission to join us in our pursuits for Black economic success and development.” 


    Prop A - Firefighters Arbitration 
    The Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce votes neutral in response to the development and implementation of the Firefighters Arbitration Agreement on behalf of the Austin Firefighters Association. 
    Greater Austin Black Chamber Board Position  NEUTRAL

    Prop B - Camping Ban
    The Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce supports policies that are both capable of protecting the development of Black business and prioritize accessible and affordable housing as an equitable right for the citizens of Austin. This proposition frames the general public understanding of our housing crisis as the antithesis of economic stability when the reality is that our city is capable of more than reactionary criminalization. Criminalizing houselessness will not eliminate our community members facing a lack of housing security and it will in fact, disproportionately affect our black communities at large; which is in direct opposition to the  mission of our organization. Our organization believes that we need housing security first and foremost seeing as Austin’s current housing crisis is a leading cause of the dwindling Black population in the city limits. The Greater Austin Black Chamber votes no to proposition B for its problematic ballot language with inherent geographic designation to say the least. It is clear that this policy was made without regard for the promotion of ALL Austin businesses.
    Our national housing crisis is inhumane by any stretch of the imagination and not good for anyone. That reach also extends to business. Proposition B has problematic ballot language with geographic designation to say the least. This chamber with its over 40 year history, has been fighting against racial injustice and cannot support any legislation that would portend to criminalize a disproportionate amount of black people. We support policies that would assist the housing insecure and promote ALL business simultaneously. Unfortunately this proposal does neither and worse yet may exacerbate our ability to effectively fulfill our mission of economic prosperity.

    Greater Austin Black Chamber Board Position  NO

    Prop C - Independent Police Oversight
    It has always been integral that the success of police and community relations be rooted in a mutual understanding of transparency and accountability. One of the leading ways that Austin can tangibly catch itself up in ensuring the safety and prosperity of its citizens is through the appointment of an independent Director of Police Oversight whom through their autonomous role will usher in a robust attention to detail that could otherwise be both overlooked and detrimental to our community relations at large. 
    Greater Austin Black Chamber Board Position  YES

    Prop D - Mayor Election Date
    It goes without saying that our city and state at large have numerous opportunities to meet our citizens halfway in regards to our voter regime. Part of why it is so fundamentally important that voter equity be prioritized is so that we may see an accurate portrayal of our city reflected back to us in the polls. One way that this can be achieved is to consolidate the mayoral elections to be in alignment with presidential years rather than that of gubernatorial years. If we want to encourage voter turnout, this adjustment will allow optimal time for voter education to become more comprehensive and ultimately liberate voters to make informed decisions on behalf of the communities they belong to and keep track of important election dates with less room for error.
    Greater Austin Black Chamber Board Position  YES

    Prop E - Ranked Choice
    It is evident that we do not just want voter turnout but rather an attached sense of agency behind each vote cast. Part of voter equity also involves supporting voter literacy when it comes to understanding the platform of each potential candidate. Ranked voting will give voice to the volume of voter preferences that often go unvoiced if the option were not made available. This would ultimately ensure that the winning candidate appealed broadly to the majority of voters and increase accuracy in elections where the candidate margins for determining a winner are much smaller.  
    Greater Austin Black Chamber Board Position  YES

    Prop F - Mayor-Council Model
    Historically, with the current council manager system, citizens have been able to rest assured that at a mayoral level there is an additional branch of feedback that is provided before policy is enacted. The power of that checkpoint of feedback has proven to be invaluable to the public at large when necessary review or reconsideration needs to be caught before decisions are made on behalf of our mayor. The elimination of this position would not only jeopardize the security that we as a community once had in knowing that another leader could provide insight to policy outside of the single mayoral office. It goes without saying how vital the council manager position has been as a liaison between the public and the mayor. We needn’t consolidate the contrast in powers that were vested in the council manager if we are to see a balanced and just mayoral office in the future. 
    Greater Austin Black Chamber Board Position  NO 

    Prop G - 11th Council District
    City Council was strategic in coding the language of this proposition via splitting the items up between both prop F and G. Their intention was to find a way to still allow at least one item to take place without being “contingent” on the outcome of the former. All of this to achieve their agenda of an even numbered council regardless. It goes without saying that even in the proposal, the City Council is relying on the lack of literacy of their community members to decipher what these two propositions would result in specifically. We strongly encourage that both Prop F and G are rejected to avoid the dangers of an even number of council members. 
    Greater Austin Black Chamber Board Position  NO

    Prop H - Democracy Dollars
    It goes without saying that the contents of prop H aim to dually level the playing field from the voter perspective as well as a candidate perspective. On the one hand, our voters who have never had the expendable income to place their earned revenue back into the political campaign of their choosing can now be included in the conversation by way of having a protected voucher to ensure their participation. This can only mobilize a larger number of low income earning voters to represent themselves and the candidates that reflect their best interests by way of funding their campaigns. Likewise, our more grassroots campaigns that are largely community based and funded won’t face intimidation due to their inability to garner enough financial backing to go up against special interest money in elections. This will add to the overall diversity and inclusion of our election process. 
    Greater Austin Black Chamber Board Position  YES 


    PROP A - Firefighters Arbitration: The GABC holds a NEUTRAL position on adding the Firefighters Arbitration Agreement. 

    PROP B: Camping Ban: The GABC decides NO on prop B because it does not promote equitable policy enforcement across the city, or protect all businesses equally and worst yet, criminalizes a disproportionate ethnic demographic. The proposed will not eliminate our housing crisis, or offer a solution for those facing housing insecurity.

    PROP C: Independent Police Oversight: The GABC decides YES. A Director of Police Oversight can ensure that there is always a role designated to both seek transparency and accountability from our police department to strengthen community relations. 

    PROP D: Mayor Election Date: The GABC decides YES. Simplify the voting process for all voters by consolidating mayoral elections to presidential election years instead of gubernatorial years. 

    PROP E: Ranked Choice: The GABC decides YES. Ensure that winning candidates actually appeal broadly to the majority of voters by allowing voters to rank their preferences. 

    PROP F: Mayor-Council Model: The GABC decides NO. Save the Council Manager position and keep a balance of municipal power in alignment with the needs of the public.

    PROP G: 11th Council District: The GABC decides NO. Keep the Council-Manager system in place and keep a larger concentration of power in the hands of the established districts. An additional district distracts and divides power further.

    PROP H: Democracy Dollars: The GABC decides YES. Levels the playing field to introduce a new wave of campaign support from traditionally non-donating voters. Allows for each registered voter to support candidate efforts financially. 

  • OPPOSITION OF TEXAS SENATE BILL NO. 7 STATEMENT

    We view Texas Senate Bill no. 7 as a clear threat to our democracy in the state of Texas and a microcosm for voter suppression of underrepresented communities across the nation. Many of the proposed policies in the bill would obstruct the guaranteed voting rights of Texans and especially penalizes communities of color as well as those with disabilities. The bill contains many proposed voting limitations including restrictions on voter eligibility, reduced polling hours and sites, unwarranted conditions to vote-by-mail, and requires those with disabilities to provide proof to qualify for mail-in voting. It also allows poll watchers to video record voters, which is an infringement on privacy and a pathway for partisan harassment. Texas lawmakers should be expanding avenues for voting as well as modernizing the already restricted process to make voting more accessible to all communities across our diverse state, rather than the opposite. Thus, we stand in strong opposition to TX SB7. 

    Tam Hawkins | GABC President & CEO

    Nelson E. Linder | President Austin NAACP

    Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, President of Huston-Tillotson University

    Cloteal Davis Haynes | CEO, Haynes-Eaglin-Waters, LLC

    Rev. Dr. Daryl Horton | President, Baptist Ministers Union of Austin and Vicinity

    Pastor Joseph C. Parker, Jr., Esq., D.Min. | David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church

  • AUSTIN AMERICAN STATESMAN

    ‘ENGAGE IN THE DAILY FIGHT:’ Leader of Austin black chamber of commerce points a path forward for business community

    By Lori Hawkins

    Following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer and protests for social justice for black Americans, a number of Austin businesses have issued statements condemning police violence and pledging to increase diversity efforts.

    Will that make a meaningful difference to Austin’s black community, which has been largely on the sidelines of the region’s economic boom over the past decade?

    That depends on whether companies are willing to step beyond public relations to real action, said Tam Hawkins, CEO of the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce.

    “It’s great that companies have made public statements,” Hawkins said. “Now we’ve got to move beyond the discussion and beyond holding the pain and move forward to action.”

    The American-Statesman talked with Hawkins about the challenges facing Austin’s black-owned businesses and what can be done to create more opportunities for Austin’s black workforce. The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity."

    Click Here to Read More

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