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Bruce Elfant

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Notebook Archives



Constable's Notebook - May 2005

On Saturday, May 7th Austin voters will have the opportunity to vote on (1) three City of Austin city council positions, (2) a proposed smoking ordinance and (3) whether the Austin Community College service area should be expanded to the portions of Austin outside Travis County. Only about one in ten voters are actually expected to participate in their democratic government which means that a few votes will likely will decide the outcome.

Early voting begins Wednesday April 20 and runs through Friday April 22 then resumes Monday April 25 through May 3. Early voting locations include Northcross and Highland Malls, Fiesta, Randalls on 35th St. and the Travis County offices at 5501 Airport Blvd. A complete list of early voting locations and election day polling places are available by calling the Travis County Clerk’s office at 854-4996 or www.co.travis.tx.us/county_clerk/election/.

Unfortunately with the exception of the Austin Chronicle, the local media has provided very little coverage of the upcoming election that will determine who will replace long time council members Daryl Slusher and Jackie Goodman. But the Austin League of Women Voters publishes a comprehensive voters guide that details candidates positions and explians the issue propositions. Voter guides are available at any public library as well as online at www.lwvaustin.org/.

The smoking ordinance is one of the more interesting propositions that has been on the ballot in a long time because it is really about protecting individual freedoms versus protecting public health. The bar owners have made a compelling case that most of their patrons smoke and should have the right to do so if they choose. The public health advocates have also effectively argued that bar employees don’t have a choice and that the public costs of diseases caused by smoking and second hand smoke should outweigh the personal freedom argument. Those who choose to vote will decide on May 7 which argument carries the day. I hope to see you at the polls.



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