WHY I SUPPORT KIRK FOR AUSTIN MAYOR

KAREN RANUS, MENTAL HEALTH COMMUNITY LEADER

I served as Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in Austin for over eight years. At NAMI, we focused on breaking down the stigma associated with mental health treatment and creating more accessible, necessary programs to positively affect families and people in the community.

That’s how I met Kirk. He has been longtime, stalwart champion of brain and mental health. When he served as Texas Senator, he included improvement of brain health as part of a ten-year plan to improve healthcare in Austin. And, typical of Kirk, he got things done.

For example, Austin got its first emergency department just for mental health. For example, Kirk declared that we should improve the Austin State Hospital and make it the “M.D. Anderson of the Brain”.

And, again, he got things done.

Because of Kirk’s leadership in the Texas Legislature, he ensured that hundreds of millions of dollars were appropriated to begin reconstructing the Austin State Hospital. But it was more than just getting a new hospital. In addition, he passed legislation to include the new Dell Medical School at UT as a leader in a complete redesign of how brain health can be provided in Central Texas. This work, which is ongoing, will help thousands of people across multiple counties access essential mental health resources. Prior to COVID-19, 1 in 5 people were impacted by a mental health condition each year. This number has only grown throughout the pandemic.

This work illustrates Kirk’s proven ability to be a visionary leader and demonstrates his success in getting big things done. There are few people who can anticipate and plan for the future and then make things happen.

I’m a proud supporter of Kirk’s campaign, in large part because of the litany of things he has accomplished for our community. That’s why I have complete confidence he’s the visionary, productive leader we need to overcome our city’s challenges as Austin Mayor.

– Karen Ranus

VICTORIA LI, COMMUNITY LEADER

May is Asian Pacific Islander Month. An entire month that recognizes the benefits and successes of Asian Americans for our community. Over time, the AAPI community has grown in Austin from 1% to the 10% it is today.

I first met Kirk many years ago when he was appointed by Gov. Ann Richards to serve on the Texas Air Control Board. Over that time, I have seen the way he is able to work with people from different backgrounds to implement comprehensive and thoughtful policies.

Throughout his service, he has always made sure to include members of the Asian American community. While the AAPI community continues to grow, he has included our perspective, which is something I really respect and admire.

That’s why just a week ago, I spoke at the Scoot Inn to formally kick off Kirk Watson’s Campaign for Austin Mayor. I believe Kirk is the person our city needs at this pivotal moment to serve as our next Mayor. Kirk has proven he has the insight and strength to give strategic change that’s necessary to become a world-class city.

I’m excited for the future of our city, especially if Kirk becomes our next Mayor.

Victoria Li

PAUL SALDAÑA, FORMER AISD TRUSTEE & COMMUNITY LEADER

As a former AISD Trustee and a longtime advocate for community equity and social justice, I’m excited to support my friend Kirk Watson to serve as our next Austin Mayor. We first met over 23 years ago. Kirk was first elected as Austin Mayor when I was Chief of Staff to our beloved Council Member, Mayor Pro Tem, and then Mayor Gus Garcia. Gus and Kirk were very close, and Kirk has talked many times about how much he learned from Mayor Garcia, who was the first Latino elected Mayor in Austin. I know Gus would be proud to see his dear friend running for Austin Mayor at this important time for Austin.

Kirk has always worked to include every person at the table to ensure all voices are represented. He has been an incredible mentor and role model to me and others across our community. I’m supporting Kirk because his leadership, courage, public service, advocacy, and positive impact are unmatched. We need Kirk and I’m asking you to please sign up to publicly support Kirk here or make a donation today to help his campaign for Mayor.

If you’ve already donated and signed up, be sure to forward this email to others who might know Kirk. With Austin continuing to grow, it’s going to take all of us communicating with our neighbors and friends to get Kirk to victory in November.

¡Adelante!

Paul Saldaña

SHERYL COLE, STATE REPRESENTATIVE HD-46

I’m excited to support my dear friend Kirk Watson, and I know he has what it takes to be an excellent mayor for Austin. Since I’ve known him, creating shared public space where our community can come together has been a hallmark of Kirk Watson’s leadership over the years.

I’ve seen him breathe new life into downtown Austin during his first term as mayor with a new City Hall and the 2nd Street Retail District, which opened up an underutilized and neglected area for redevelopment. That corner of downtown is now home to, among other things, the beautiful Austin Central Library.

Kirk brought that same commitment to open and accessible public space to the Texas Senate, where he was instrumental in the redevelopment of the stretch of state land between the Texas Capitol and the University of Texas into the Capitol Complex. Set for completion this summer, that project includes a tree-lined urban greenspace in the heart of Austin that will soon be hosting outdoor music performances, political rallies, and other community events.

These are just two examples of how Kirk believes that having public spaces where people from all over town can come together is essential to bringing people together as a community. They reveal how Kirk can get things done and will focus on improving the basic needs of Austin. Together, we can make great things happen. I hope you join me in supporting my friend, Kirk Watson, to be the next mayor of Austin.

Take it from me, I know how hard it is to run for Mayor. So when Kirk asked me to help, I knew I had to step up. Kirk is the progressive leader our city needs. If you agree, please chip in towards his campaign today.

Much love and a BIG hug!

Sheryl Cole

WENDY DAVIS, FORMER TEXAS SENATOR

I’m excited to support my dear friend and incredible public servant Kirk Watson in his bid to become Austin’s next mayor.

Kirk is one of the greatest feminists I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. In 2013, he had my back when I took to the floor of the Texas Senate to filibuster, a terrible abortion bill that undermined the rights of women. And when those in control of the Senate tried to shut me down, Kirk was ready and right there to continue the fight with some quick thinking and a mastery of the Senate rules. We won that night, in large part, because of Kirk.

Sometimes the work of feminists includes really great men who are strong allies. Kirk is one of those men, and he has demonstrated it time and again. He led the way on enacting significant reforms to address campus sexual assault and went on to pass the “most significant state sex assault legislation in the country” in 2019. And there was no greater champion of the work that Deeds Not Words, the non-profit that I founded, was doing to advance the gender equity agenda of our young women advocates.

Kirk has long been a trusted and effective ally of all we hold dear — from reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality, education excellence, environmental protections, government transparency, transportation infrastructure and more. No one I served with in the Texas Senate had a greater ability to bring disparate perspectives together to achieve positive outcomes.

Kirk is the effective leader we need. That’s why I believe he needs to be our next mayor. No one is better situated to take on the complex challenges and opportunities that lay ahead for Austin. I hope you’ll join me in supporting his campaign.

One way you can support Kirk right now is to make a donation to his campaign. We need Kirk as Austin’s mayor. And I’m proud to give him my support.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Wendy Davis

ROSIE MENDOZA, AUSTIN COMMUNITY LEADER

Access to healthcare and health equity remain enormous challenges in Texas as those in control of the Capitol have refused to expand Medicaid. But in Travis County, we’re tackling that challenge head-on thanks to the leadership of Kirk Watson.

I’m Kirk’s campaign treasurer. I’ve been his treasurer since back around 2006. I joined him because I believed in his approach to politics and public policy, especially when it came to working for equity in Austin. I also had the great pleasure of working with him when I was chair of the Central Health Board of Managers. Central Health is our county’s health care district providing health care for the county’s poorest and most vulnerable.

Now that Kirk has announced that he’s running for Austin Mayor, I hope you’ll join me in supporting his campaign and help by making a donation of any amount today.

Kirk has already brought about transformational progressive health care changes. For example, he pulled together community leaders, health advocates and big thinkers to develop 10 Goals in 10 Years to create a health ecosystem that works to ensure that everyone has access to high-quality healthcare, regardless of their ability to pay. In 2012, voters embraced his bold vision and approved Proposition 1, which boosted the public investment in healthcare for our uninsured and under-insured neighbors.

Ten years later, we’ve achieved every single of those goals — and then some. We built the Dell Medical School at UT Austin from the ground up with a specific focus on addressing health equity in Travis County. We opened a 21st-century safety-net and teaching hospital — at zero cost to taxpayers — as well as health clinics that bring critical services closer to those most in need. And we’re rethinking cancer care and brain health and even the fundamental structure of health insurance.

Kirk’s healthcare work has been recognized by People’s Community Clinic in Austin with its award for healthcare advocacy. He has also been recognized by the American Medical Association, the Texas Medical Association, the Central Texas chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute.

One of Texas’ foremost organizations promoting social, economic and racial justice, Texas Appleseed, honored Kirk with its highest honor.

It’s been really exciting for me to help Kirk make these big ideas a reality. And I’m thrilled to be supporting him as he steps up again to lead our community as the Mayor of Austin. He is absolutely the leader we need right now. He’s been a proven progressive who gets things done with practical solutions. Learn more about Kirk by clicking here.

Please become part of his campaign. You can sign up to be listed a public supporter here. And Kirk needs your financial support to get his message out. Now, more than ever, we need Kirk Watson to lead our city. I hope you’ll join me!

MAX LARS, CAMPAIGN MANAGER

My name is Max Lars, and, just this week, I started as Kirk Watson’s campaign manager. When Kirk reached out to me about helping him run for Austin Mayor, I knew that I wanted to be a part of a special campaign focused on building coalitions and supporting every Austinite, no matter their background.

As a former legislative staffer, I saw firsthand that Kirk Watson is a problem-solver focused on bringing everyone to the table to find common-sense solutions. He took on big issues as a Senator, such as public school funding and government accountability, and worked to build consensus among an array of different constituencies.

Kirk fought against efforts to reduce Austin’s local control, especially in cases where the Texas Legislature wanted to undermine local policies that help people live and thrive here. He also strongly advocated for local anti-discrimination ordinances and stood up against all efforts to discriminate against Texans, including playing a leading role in fighting the so-called “bathroom bill.

This work resulted in him being recognized by the social justice organization Texas Appleseed with the Good Apple Award in 2020.

I’ve worked on campaigns all across Texas. I’ve learned that there is only one way to win in November. Our only path to victory is if Austinites like you and me join in building an unprecedented grassroots campaign.

Knocking on doors. Texting friends and family. Meeting neighbors. Together we will put in the work to win and create a foundation for future success that supports every Austinite equitably, whatever their background and wherever they live. I am so excited to be in this with you.

Pol. Adv. paid by Kirk Watson for Mayor Campaign. Rosie Mendoza, Treasurer. This campaign has not agreed to comply with the contribution and expenditure limits of the Austin Fair Campaign Chapter.