Austinites for Geographic Representation going door-to-door, running phone banks, and distributing info at polling places
The proponents for Proposition 3’s 10-1 plan for electing council members met Saturday and laid out the campaign strategy they hope will bring victory November 6.
If so, the seventh time’s a charm, given that between 1973 and 2002 voters have shot down six previous attempts to have geographic representation on the Austin City Council.
Proposition 4 advocates of the 8-2-1 plan for electing council members have campaigned only by participating in speaking engagements and running full-page ads in The Austin Chronicle the past three weeks.
Using its coalition of 30 supporting organizations the AGR tactics will rely almost entirely on a ground game, neighbor to neighbor, house by house, phone by phone, in an effort to turn out people who will vote for Proposition 3.
Volunteer political advisor Peck Young said, “This election will be decided by people who don’t know what we’re talking about. … The truth is, what will decide this election is what’s done in the next two weeks.”
Although Austinites for Geographic Representation (AGR) had raised $90,000 by the first of this month, and says it raised another $18,000 through it’s recent e-mail campaign, the group has no plans to buy television spots because the cost is prohibitive.
“Austin is now one of the bigger markets in the United States and TV is charging high rates” Young said.
The campaign will instead rely on putting out 150,000 door hangars and blanketing neighborhoods, posting yard signs, using phone banks to reach upwards of 8,000 of the 33,000 people who signed petitions to get Proposition 3 on the ballot and provided phone numbers, running community newspaper ads, and getting volunteers to distribute information at polling places.
Volunteer Ed English announced that he has 26 volunteers working on the campaign in North Austin.
Campaign coordinator Linda Curtis said that 100,000 door hangars have already been picked up by volunteers to be distributed. Many of those were gobbled up by neighborhood association members of the Austin Neighborhoods Council.
“Door hangars really work,” Curtis said. “This gives us a bang for the buck.”
AGR will also rely heavily on social media that includes Facebook messages that can reach an exponential number of people by getting fans to “share” and “like” the group’s pages, triggering a cascade of contacts to gain attention for its YouTube videos and Google ads linked to search pages.
A series of new YouTube videos prepared by Rudy Malveaux and Jackie McCardell Jr. of Paradigm Shift Multimedia LLC were previewed at the meeting. Most were based on video footage from AGR’s October 6 rally that drew 150-200 people.
“We’re creating a context to tell the story of geographic representation,” said Jessica Ellison, who’s masterminding the campaign’s social media strategy.
Young said if funds are sufficient AGR will also send direct mail appeals to “close to 30,000” people who signed the petitions and for which they have good addresses.
Volunteer Stacy Suits, chief deputy constable for Precinct 3, managed two unsuccessful campaigns for geographic representation in the 1980s. He said another 500 yard signs are coming, many of which will be posted at early voting locations. He has 50 large signs that will be posted at high-traffic locations with property owners’ permission.
More than 30 AGR coalition members attended the meeting held at the Precinct 1 Constable’s office at 1811 Springdale Road.
Civil rights attorney Attorney David Van Os roused the crowd when he stood to say to Roger Borgelt, vice chairman of the Travis County Republican Party, “I’m a lifelong Democrat but Republicans should have a fair opportunity for participation in this city.
“The people managing Proposition 4 just want power and control. They do not believe in democracy. They don’t want an independent redistricting commission because they fear the people.
“Everyone should have equal representation in this democracy—the soul of the city is on the line in this election,” Van Os said before sitting down to loud applause.
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Related Bulldog coverage: This is The Austin Bulldog’s 35th article covering issues and activities pertaining to proposed changes to the Austin City Charter.