Watson moved to Austin to run for mayor

HomeCity of AustinCity CouncilWatson moved to Austin to run for mayor

This story was updated 9:40am December 10, 2022, to insert the date of the election in which Kirk Watson was first elected mayor.

Watson criticized Celia Israel for doing in 2021 what he did in 1996

As the Bulldog reported December 5th, in a video released December 2nd, mayoral candidate Kirk Watson said, “The truth is my opponent only moved into the city of Austin last year to run for mayor. The first vote she’ll cast in a mayor’s race in 20 years will be for herself.”

His campaign spent more than $5,000 to promote that video on Facebook in just the first three days since it was posted, and reached more than 150,000 people, according to Facebook’s Ad Library. The campaign also included the accusation in a mailer sent to prospective voters.

Celia Israel

What Watson said about his opponent Celia Israel is true.

But what Watson has forgotten—or conveniently overlooks—is that 26 years ago he moved from West Lake Hills into the City of Austin in March 1996, just a few months before declaring his candidacy for mayor of Austin. The election was held May 3, 1997.

I brought this up in our interview of August 15, 1996, for a story about his candidacy in my In Fact newsletter. Here’ an excerpt from that interview:

In Fact: Well you were excited enough to move into Austin. How long did you live in West Lake?

Kirk Watson: We lived in West Lake, uh, let me tell you I’ve got to work on my, we must have moved to West Lake in February of ‘93. Is that right, I finished chemo around February or March of ‘93, and we moved back into Austin, which I think is kind of a strange concept, I mean I never considered myself to be out of Austin. (Actually the deed records show that he bought a house in West Lake Hills in June 1992.)

IF: Well, politically, obviously you couldn’t run living out there.

KW: That’s true.

IF: Didn’t you move in just so you could run?

KW: No.

IF: You didn’t?

KW: Not just so I could run, no.

IF: But you obviously realized it was a prerequisite?

KW: There’s no question, no question, no question it allows an opportunity, yeah, but we had lived in Brykerwoods, I had been president of the Brykerwoods Neighborhood Association. I much prefer the inner city neighborhoods. But I much prefer the inner city neighborhood, and we looked to do that. But it does create the opportunity.

Property records provide details

Travis Central Appraisal District (TCAD) records indicate that Watson bought a home at 700 Las Lomas in West Lake Hills June 19, 1992, and sold it April 2, 1996.

Here are the deed records for the purchase of 700 Las Lomas and the sale of that property.

TCAD records show that he bought a home at 2301 Woodlawn Blvd. in Austin March 27, 1996. That was five months before his In Fact interview.

Here is the deed record for the purchase of 2301 Woodlawn.

The Bulldog has requested a comment for this story via email to Watson’s campaign manager.

This story includes reporting by Daniel Van Oudenaren.

Trust indicators: Ken Martin has been doing investigative reporting in the three-county Austin metro area since 1981. His aggressive reporting twice garnered first-place national awards for investigative reporting. Both of those projects resulted in successful criminal prosecutions. His 2011 investigation of the Austin City Council’s open meetings violations triggered a 21-month investigation by the Travis County attorney that resulted in the mayor and council members signing deferred prosecution agreements to avoid being charged, tried, and if convicted serving one to six months in jail and forfeiting their elective offices. See more on Ken on the About page. Email [email protected].

Related documents:

Celia Israel’s application for a place on the ballot, August 9, 2022 (1 page)

Interview with Kirk Watson, August 15, 1996 (46 pages)

Warranty Deed with Vendor’s Lien for purchase of 700 Las Lomas Drive, West Lake Hills, June 19, 1992 (4 pages)

General Warranty Deed for purchase of 2301 Woodlawn Blvd., Austin, March 27, 1996 (5 pages)

General Warranty Deed for sale of 700 Las Lomas Drive, West Lake Hills, April 3, 1996 (3 pages)

Travis Central Appraisal District records for 700 Las Lomas Drive, West Lake Hills (3 pages)

Travis Central Appraisal District records for 2301 Woodlawn Blvd, Austin (3 pages)

Related Bulldog election coverage:

Men dominant in runoff election finances, December 6, 2022

The scoreboard for eight runoff candidates, December 5, 2022

Celia Israel in the hot seat in final stretch of mayoral campaign, December 5, 2022

Celia Israel blasted for defunding crime victims—but is it true? December 1, 2022

Mayor Watson’s scheme broke law, Senator Watson’s bill provided alternative, November 20, 2022

Mayoral race and three council contests will go to runoff, November 9, 2022

Watson grabbed 70 percent of mayoral donations, November 3, 2022

Watson circumvented law to fund new medical school, November 1, 2022

What kind of legislator was Celia Israel? October 28, 2022

What kind of major was Kirk Watson? October 24, 2022

Candidates offer competing visions on homelessness, October 18, 2022

The man who would be mayor…again, October 10, 2022

Want to get elected but not be accountable? September 28, 2022


  1. No, I didn’t read to the end of this article, which was forwarded to me, otherwise I never would’ve seen or heard of it.

    Watson didn’t move here from, say, Houston or Round Rock or even Bastrop. West Lake is considered to be a part of Austin, even if residents can’t vote in Austin. I suspect he moved to the city limits of Austin so he could vote here.

    While you’re covering this election why don’t you show the incredibly stupid email Celia Israel sent out showing a picture of Watson morphing into Donald Trump. It’s stupid on so many levels, the main ones being that Watson is a yellow dog democrat and even so, this is a non-partisan mayoral race.

    Watson can work with the hard-core Republican Texas legislature. They famously hate our town. Celia Israel will not be able to work with them, as she proved in being unable to pass more than a handful of bills.

  2. Regarding the spending of taxpayer monies, neither of these ‘so-called’ Democrats running for Austin Mayor, including our current mayor would support a full forensic audit of City of Austin Management-officials and council member spending activities.

    Why? Because that would show the Austin taxpayer just how corrupt our Democrat, so-called leadership is.

    The new so-called Democrat party political and life goal is power and the redistribution of anyone else’s wealth but theirs and their families. They will be satisfied only when all of America’s rights and freedoms, small and large businesses, cities and towns are brought down to third world status and under the control of the new Democrat big government.

Congratulations. It looks like you’re the type of person who reads to the end of articles. Now that you’re informed on this topic we want your feedback.

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