Pro Tem Sheryl Cole

University faculty and staff have contributed less than $8,000 to major candidates in the Austin mayor’s race this year, significantly less than the total amount of contributions to the state race for governor.

Texas Ethics Commission data on UT employee contributors to political campaigns shows more than 120 individuals who have contributed a total of more than $20,000 to primarily support state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, and the Travis County Democratic Party in the governor’s race. Meanwhile, information filed with the Austin Office of the City Clerk shows more than 25 University faculty or staff who have contributed a total of around $7,750 to major mayoral candidates Steve Adler, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and City Council member Mike Martinez. 

People who make gubernatorial campaign contributions are required to disclose their employer, but those who donate to mayoral campaigns are not. It is possible that the number of donations is underestimated because of the different filing practices by the city and state.

Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, visiting scholar at the University who researches political behavior, said voters tend to follow and support candidates competing in statewide and national elections even though citizens have a greater likelihood of being able to influence local politics. 

“Our attention is always drawn to the top-of-the-ticket folks — in the midterm, to the gubernatorial candidates [and] maybe the senate races,” DeFrancesco Soto said. “It’s this disconnect between the realities of politics and how it affects us and how we perceive politics. Local news will cover what’s going on here in Austin, but it’s not as sexy and glamorous.”

DeFrancesco Soto also said gubernatorial candidates tend to be affiliated with a political party and have developed sophisticated systems for asking for donations — two attributes typically not found at the local level.

Among disclosed faculty and staff campaign donations to the three major mayoral candidates, Adler has received the most with $4,550. Cole and Martinez have both received more than $1,500.  

Adler’s campaign manager Jim Wick said their campaign has currently raised $566,000 from about 2,500 donors since Adler first began campaigning for mayor in January. Wick said this amount beats the record of about 1,500 donors who supported Mayor Lee Leffingwell’s campaign in 2009.

The City of Austin allows individuals to donate a maximum of $350 to a mayoral candidate’s campaign, while individuals donating to a gubernatorial candidate can give up to $2,600.

Matt Parkerson, campaign manager for Martinez, said the campaign has risen more than $200,000.

“We knock on doors seven days a week,” Parkerson said. 

Both Wick and Parkerson said their respective campaigns do not do anything to specifically gain support from UT faculty and staff, but both campaigns have coalitions on campus to get students involved in the mayoral election.

David Sullivan, a research associate for the University’s Center for Energy and Environmental Resources, said he and his wife contributed money to both Cole’s and Martinez’s campaigns, along with the campaigns of several other City Council members.

“Aside from my day job here at the University, I’m also at the city office,” Sullivan said. “My wife and I donated basically out of loyalty and trust. I believe the city is in an excellent position to elect a good mayor.” 

Engineering professor Philip Varghese financially contributed to the Adler campaign, but said it is important for voters to participate in both mayoral and gubernatorial elections.

“However, the sums of money being spent on the governor’s race are so large that I don’t think any contribution I can afford to make will materially impact it,” Varghese said in an email. “I suppose one could argue that’s true of a single vote as well, but I think voting is a responsibility. Donating money is optional.”

Photo courtesy of Sheryl Cole for Austin

Editor’s Note: Early voting began Monday and continues through Oct. 31. Election day is Nov. 4.

After countless years with a small, commission-style city government, Austin will elect 10 district city council members for the first time this November, a direct result of voters passing the 10-ONE redistricting plan two years ago. The “ONE” in that plan refers to the mayor, who will still be elected by the entire city. But the job will be far different come January because not only will Mayor Lee Leffingwell step down after two terms, but the chief executive will have to work with a city council that looks and acts radically different.

 Between the top three candidates for mayor, civil rights attorney Steve Adler, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and City Council Member Mike Martinez, the choice is abundantly clear for us. Cole possesses both the requisite experience and the needed temperament to be an effective and passionate mayor for all of Austin, including students.

While we certainly appreciate many of the big ideas Adler has brought to the table, this lawyer and philanthropist has no political experience whatsoever. In every election, but particularly in this special one, Austin needs a leader who does not need on-the-job training. We need a mayor who is familiar with the way this city does business. Unlike Houston, Austin does not have a strong mayor system. This means, despite what Adler may be suggesting, that the mayor cannot unilaterally change policies. The mayor would need to calmly and diligently work with the city council to do that.

Between Martinez and Cole, furthermore, we find the latter to be the clear choice. While we think Martinez has some good ideas as well, they appear both less refined and less realistic compared to his competitor. Martinez talks in broad platitudes about opposing the gentrification of East Austin, but his personal actions don’t always match his policy statements.

While we disagree with all three major candidates on Proposition 1, the urban rail issue, we think Cole has the most pragmatic take of the major candidates. At a debate hosted by UT Student Government and The Daily Texan on Monday evening, Cole talked somewhat frankly about what she would do if Proposition 1 does not pass — as many think it may very well not — saying she’d work to establish other modes of transportation. Whereas the other candidates would still be intent upon forcing unpopular boondoggles down Austinites’ throats, Cole would respect public sentiment and try to move forward working for a more manageable plan.

On transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft, we also found Cole to be a tempered voice of reason in a debate where simplistic sound bites and tribalistic loyalties led other council members to push for hasty and impulsive legalization without working out the big problems in equity and public safety. We still think the gouging tactics evident in Uber’s so-called “surge pricing” should be strongly curtailed.

But most of all, we think Cole could keep the most open mind for students’ interests. She has pushed for measures to increase the housing affordability for students, and she has even actively encouraged students to participate in the discussion about so-called “stealth dorms.”

All in all, Austin faces some good choices among the candidates to be its next mayor. We believe Cole is simply the best because she has strong experience in Austin city government, pragmatic capabilities and a genuine desire to help students. She’s the best option, for University students and for all of Austin.

Photo Credit: Sarah Montgomery | Daily Texan Staff

With early voting underway, three major mayoral candidates stressed the importance of students affecting change with the Austin City Council’s first election under its 10-ONE structure, which divides the city’s representation into 10 geographic districts.

With the mayor now the only citywide elected official, the candidates — attorney Steve Adler, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and City Council member Mike Martinez — debated transportation, housing during a forum hosted by Student Government and The Daily Texan on campus at Gearing Hall. Adler emphasized the benefit of changing the City Council entirely during the upcoming election.

“The biggest challenge we have is doing things we are comfortable with,” Adler said. “We have the opportunity to do things a new way. Every piece of gravity and inertia is going to pull us back to how we’ve done things in the past, and we need to move forward.”

The candidates touched on public transportation options, including Proposition 1. Cole said, if Prop. 1, which allocates $600 million in bond money toward an urban rail line and requires the city to spend $400 million in road improvements, fails at the ballot, she would ask the community why they chose not to support it.

“When we come together as a community, that is when we are strongest,” Cole said. “We need to look throughout the city and see that this is a down payment on a 50-year vision, and we have to embrace the 50-year vision before we embark on another course.”

Cole also said she supports transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft, because they are good alternative transit options.

“There’s a lot of concern in the community about people able to get to our high density points like downtown if they don’t want to drive or can’t because they’ve been drinking,” Cole said. “TNCs can be used for that.”

While Adler criticized the City Council for its pace on passing ordinances, Martinez said the ordinance legalizing TNCs to operate in Austin happened as quickly as it should have.

“Government is not reactive; it is responsive,” Martinez said. “It takes time to make policies. We started this conversation in May this year, with a task force that is still making its way through the process, and here we are, less than six months later with a policy in place.”

Martinez defended his stance on occupancy limits and said that, without enforcement, the neighborhoods of Austin would be unfairly changed.

“We have developers that take advantage of our land development code and find ways to build units that are stealth dorms,” Martinez said. “We had plans that were submitted that looked like a duplex but it had seven or eight bathrooms and seven or eight bedrooms, and we knew they would be rented as single rooms. We wanted to stem the tide of stealth dorms. It was changing the character of traditional neighborhoods for single family houses.”

Adler said “stealth dorms” rose from Austin’s affordability crisis.

“When people can’t afford to be here, you’re going to find people creating solutions,” Adler said. “I have trouble with the ordinance that it is kind of a one-size-fits-all. There are some parts of the city that are not traditional. But we need to protect neighborhoods. We shouldn’t have multifamily projects where they don’t belong.”

Cole said affordable housing could be solved by looking at other alternatives, such as micro-units.

“I think we can create more affordability by design,” Cole said. “We have to be open to micro-units: smaller housing that students can live in and people who can’t afford to live in larger apartments.”

Early voting started Monday and runs until Oct. 31. Election Day is Nov. 4.

Steve Adler, candidate for Austin mayor, discusses efficient and environmentally friendly energy for Austin on Wednesday night.

Photo Credit: Ellyn Snider | Daily Texan Staff

Seven mayoral candidates discussed water conservation, transportation issues and curbing property taxes in a forum at the Austin Convention Center on Wednesday night. 

Businessman Todd Phelps, retired electrical engineer Ronald Culver, City Council Member Mike Martinez, aircraft technician Randall Stephens, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, retired technology writer David Orshalick and attorney Steve Adler sat down at a forum hosted by the City Ethics Commission and League of Women Voters of the Austin Area. The only candidate listed on the ballot that did not appear is activist Mary Krenek.

Adler said the affordability crisis in Austin has been exacerbated by the rising property prices. Cole said the increasing property tax rate is unacceptable.

“We have to remember that it has two components: rate and appraised value,” Cole said. “What is really getting out of control is the appraised value. We have allocated money to work with the appraisal district to fight the appraisal values. We also need to go to the legislature and make changes there. I do not support a rate exemption, I support a flat tax exemption.”

Orshalick said preemptive strategic planning would have stymied the water conservation problem, and that the best way to meet all their recommendations is by putting everything into one city plan.

“With one strategic city plan, we wouldn’t have to have these conversations every one, two [and] four years,” Orshalick said. “The Water Task Force found a lot of things for us to do. One of the recommendations of the Water Task Force was that we have a water master plan. I think that the recommendations are very good.”

Adler said he believed Austin needs to improve water conservation.

“People are conserving more and more water and expect their bills to go down, but they don’t, and they don’t understand why,” Adler said. “It’s because we have high capital expenditure that keep those bills up. We should be doing a better job with conservation and reuse. San Antonio reuses about 40 percent of its water. Austin reuses 3 percent.”

Culver proposed adding an express lane to alleviate traffic congestion on the highways. Phelps stressed the importance of legalizing transportation network companies to help with the traffic problem.

“We need to greenlight companies like Uber and Lyft immediately,” Phelps said. “We can create flow in this city. As far as the transportation system of the future, we need to look at something that’s smart and technology driven.”

Martinez said expanding access to different social services is imperative.

“We invest about $18 million a year in social service contracting,” Martinez said. “We estimate we have over 100,000 residents in Travis County who are eligible but not enrolled in food service programs.”

Stephens said the way to expand social programs would be bringing back Texan tax dollars.

“Our governor has correctly pointed out that we are a donor state, and I wouldn’t be ashamed to ask Congress to give us some of our money back to us,” Stephens said. 

The candidates also addressed the issue of rental properties not kept up to city code. Orshalick said the City Council was to blame for substandard housing.

“Social equity is part of my platform,” Orshalick said. “The fact that we have substandard housing in Austin, Texas, speaks very poorly of us. When it came time to pass a long-term rental ordinance — we started in 2009 and we still don’t have one. This would include automatic inspections of very rental property and ensure performance to city code. This is long overdue.”

Martinez said mandatory rental registration for landlords was necessary to help renters in substandard housing.

“We absolutely must bring these folks outside of the shadows,” Martinez said. “We must be able to contact these renters. We can’t do that unless we can access the people who own these rental properties.”

Mayoral candidate Todd Phelps discusses his position during a debate at the South Lamar Alamo Drafthouse. The sold-out event, hosted by United Way for Greater Austin, was centered around discussion of affordability and education.

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

Five Austin mayoral candidates met Wednesday at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar Boulevard to talk about affordability and early childhood education.

The event, hosted by United Way for Greater Austin, sold out the theater in which the debate was held, prompting the organizers to open a second theater livestreaming the debate.

During the candidates’ discussion on affordability, candidate Todd Phelps said he thinks everyone should be able to live in Central Texas and that tax initiatives should help long-term residents who need relief. 

“We need to give them relief, and lobby state government and anticipate property value raises and protect people in that zone,” Phelps said. “Another way would be to not support initiatives and bonds that would push them out of town just because they would not be able to afford tax increases, and that’s what we’re looking right now at the rail bond tax.”

Council Member Mike Martinez said he worked to help Austin become more affordable by holding down property taxes through City Council.

“We [have been] doing everything we can over the last four years to lower or hold your tax rate flat,” Martinez said. “Providing that upward mobility ensuring that the entry-level position is not the only one you stay in when you enter the workforce. I’ll continue to push for a higher living wage than $11 per hour.”

Candidate Steve Adler criticized some of the current City Council's spending decisions and said they have had a negative impact on Austin's affordability.

"What have the incumbents done to make your life more affordable?" Adler said. "The middle class needs someone that will actually champion their cause."

The candidates’ discussion also focused on providing early childhood education opportunities. Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole said child care is important to Austin infrastructure, citing her role as a mother and previous PTA member.

“I always say I went to City Council for rest because I have three boys,” Cole said. “I believe in child care because not only for economic development but for purely your sanity.”  

Cole said she has advocated for child care before, while working to promote equal pay for women so they can afford their own child care.

Martinez agreed with providing early educational opportunities and child care.

“We don’t create dropouts in their teenage years; we create them at the age of 4 by not providing that early childhood education,” Martinez said. “It is our responsibility as a community to understand that impact and issue that we face.”

Candidate Randall Stephens supported the idea of pre-kindergarten programs and after-school programs being supplemented by funding from tax-exempt organizations.

“I believe in a safe place after school and where a child can find a tutor, but, if the city can’t pay for that tutor, the tax-exempt organizations can,” Stevens said. “Austin is a city on the move, and by supporting our children we’re protecting the great nature and soul of the city.”

Phelps said he supports after-school programs — if there are sufficient funds.

“I think we need to make sure the money is there by not wasting money on frivolous things like the water treatment plan and bonds that don’t make sense,” Phelps said.

The November mayoral election is the first under the city’s new 10-ONE plan, which reformats City Council into 10 district representatives with one citywide, elected mayor.

On Wednesday, the mayoral candidates for the upcoming November election participated in a debate presented by KLRU and the Urban Land Institute. Although the discussion featured a variety of questions posed by moderator Jennifer Stayton, the conversation was consumed by the topic of transportation.

Stayton started the debate by asking the candidates about Proposition 1 — a more than $1 billion transportation bond proposal that would create a 9.5-mile light rail transit line. While the proposal would lead to what could be considered a more efficient and more modern method for public transportation, $400 million of the proposed funding would go toward road improvements.

During the debate, candidates Randall Stephens and Todd Phelps expressed opposition to Proposition 1, but unfortunately did not provide any viable alternative. In response to a statement by fellow candidate and current City Council member Mike Martinez, explaining Proposition 1’s place in a 50-year traffic solution vision, Stephens dismissed the proposition as insufficient in addressing the urgency of the problem. Phelps, an advocate for roadway expansions, including of Interstate 35, spoke against the increase in property taxes that would ensue, which has already caused a mass exodus of Austin residents. But his battle cry of “35 high and wide” does not help those who depend on efficient public transportation. Candidate Steve Adler expressed support for the proposition, but only because the city needs a solution sooner rather than later. Adler proffered the elitist idea of behavioral changes in the workplace, such as telecommuting and staggered work hours, which could only be applied to jobs in the service sector.

Martinez and current Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole were the only candidates to wholeheartedly support the proposition, unsurprisingly considering their current participation in the City Council, which voted in early August to place the measure on the ballot. But Martinez’s vision for Austin is unrealistic, at least for the near future. “I will continue my work as chairman of the Capital Metro board, and ensure that each year, millions of cars are removed from the road,” Martinez said during the forum. Though more affordable and better for the environment, public transportation is not everyone’s first choice, and his plan to alter public behavior seems to us unfeasible.

But Cole differs from Martinez in that she expressed equal support for roadway projects included in the proposition. “Roads are imperative to present a comprehensive package,” Cole said. This editorial board supports Cole’s advocacy for roadway improvements because while a rail will primarily help with inner city mobility, in the interest of expediency, Cole’s vision is a more pragmatic response to the transportation question.

Erin McGann, District 9 candidate, discusses local issues at Dominican Joe Coffee House Friday afternoon. McGann favors a network of bus routes over the current proposed light rail plan which her two District 9 opponents have supported.

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

The final ballot list for the Nov. 4 local elections was released Aug. 18, revealing 78 candidates for 11 positions in Austin’s first geographically represented city council.

This will be the first election under the 10-ONE system, a plan approved by voters in 2012 which includes an expanded 11-member council, with the mayor elected citywide and council members selected from ten individual geographic districts encompassing the city.

“Under the new system of government, it’s going to be even more important for a mayor that has a record of collaboration because we’re going to have a lot more diversity,” Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole said.

Steve Adler, mayoral candidate and local attorney, said he thinks the city will benefit from the 10-ONE system.

“I think Austin is at a tipping point. A fork in the road,” Adler said. “Cities don’t get the opportunity to do government-culture restarts. We have one. I think it’s a once in a generation opportunity.”

Adler and Cole join council member Mike Martinez and five other candidates on the ballot for mayor this November. Many of the candidates have cited transportation and affordability as fundamental challenges the city faces.

The only two sitting council members running for re-election are Kathie Tovo and Chris Riley, both vying for the chance to represent District 9. This region is composed of much of downtown, UT, West Campus, North Campus and Hyde Park. Other areas, such as Mueller and South Congress, are in the district as well.

Riley said 14 percent of people who live in the Cherrywood neighborhood ride their bikes to work.

“Students are really in a position to lead the charge towards a better urban environment,” Riley said. “They’re saying they want to rely less on their cars. They don’t want to be driving as much as the people that came before them. They want to live in a walkable urban setting.”

Riley, who serves on both the Capital Metro and Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization boards, said he believes in “accommodating people over cars.” He said he hopes to ease restrictions that make it difficult to build affordable housing like micro-units and accessory dwelling units.

Both Riley and Tovo said they support urban rail and voted for the proposal in July. All of the candidates running said they want to reach out to the student population.

Tovo said she is concerned about high property taxes being passed onto students in the form of higher rents, and emphasized that she has been leading the council in work on property tax reforms.

Erin McGann, a candidate who works at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in social services, said she wants to create more middle-income housing and does not support the urban rail proposal or the city’s involvement in property development.

McGann said she saw the single-member districts as an opportunity to get involved and was even more motivated knowing the only two incumbents were running in her district.

“There needs to be another choice,” McGann said. “I mean, everybody else gets a brand new city council person — why not District 9?”

A candidate forum for District 9 will be held at the Palmer Events Center on Sept. 18.

Other districts also encompass areas with significant student populations. District 1 covers the east side of campus and East Austin. District 3 includes East Riverside, while District 10 includes the Far West area.

Mary Jane Smitherman speaks at a panel about women in politics and gave advice to students on starting their own political careers at the SAC ballroom on Saturday morning. 

Photo Credit: Shweta Gulati | Daily Texan Staff

The competitive nature of politics could contribute to women’s lack of political involvement and leadership roles, according to several community leaders who spoke in a panel on campus Saturday.

A group of female political leaders, including Martha Liner and Marijane Smitherman from Austin Republican Women and Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole spoke at a panel about their experiences as women in politics, and gave advice to students about starting their own political careers.

According to the Women’s Campaign Forum, a nonpartisan, nonprofit established to encourage more women to run for office, 50 percent fewer women than men consider running for office.

Smitherman said the fear of failure might discourage some women from participating in politics. 

“You have to be willing to lose, and I think that draws many women away,” said Smitherman, whose husband, Barry Smitherman, is a Texas Railroad Commissioner and former candidate for attorney general. “When you’re in a campaign, it’s competitive, and you’re taking that chance. The biggest thing is just to realize that you have to get back up and be resilient.”

Women are also less likely to be recruited into politics compared to men, according to Liner. 

“They’re less likely to be approached by a party to campaign,” Liner said.

Cole, who agreed with Liner, said it is crucial for women to take initiative when it comes to political involvement.

“I was very active in school issues, and I took it upon myself to run,” Cole said. “You just have to get out there and do it.”

Plan II senior Andrea Onuigbo, who works on state Sen. Wendy Davis’ gubernatorial campaign, said she thinks the confidence gap between men and women in politics could also play a role.

“Women are afraid to go into the race, to enter into that goal of campaigning, unless they’re very confident that it’s going to be competitive and they’re going to do well,” Onuigbo said. “It’s that confidence gap — women don’t typically feel like they’re as supported if they go into campaigns, so they tend to wait and establish themselves a little bit more, versus a male who would be like, ‘I’m going to go straight for office,’ without as much experience.”

Liner said one motivation behind her entry into politics was the ability to enact change.

“I realized there was a lot of inefficiency and weird stuff going on in government … [and] I saw the opportunity to make changes,” Liner said. “At the state level, you have the opportunity to be more local, and so you see change happen much faster. That’s why I enjoy state government — you can see change, and it can happen very quickly.”

Liner said she encourages all women considering a career in politics to find a mentor. 

“Especially for women in politics, it’s crucial to find a mentor and be a mentor,” Liner said. “It creates a support system and builds confidence.” 

Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole has spearheaded numerous projects since she was first elected to Austin City Council, but she said the moment that had the most impact on her political career came when she was PTA president of her sons’ elementary school.

“I always say that my start in politics began as PTA president,” Cole said. “When you’re balancing the interests of parents, teachers and the community at large, you learn how to bring people together.” 

After Cole became the PTA president, the school superintendent asked her to co-chair a school bond campaign. Cole said her two co-chairs encouraged her to visit school campuses to see their conditions.

“When I saw those schools, they were in such bad shape — leaky roofs, rodents, I mean rats everywhere,” Cole said.

Cole said many of the schools didn’t comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and needed restroom and gym repairs.

“I got really mad, so I started telling every person I knew, especially the PTA moms,” Cole said.

She said the school bond was not predicted to pass because similar bonds proposed in several other cities in the region had failed to pass.

“On the night of the bond election, when I saw the ticker go across the screen at 60 percent, that’s when the political bug hit me,” Cole said. “That’s what government is supposed to do — provide funding and solutions for people.”

As the first person in her family to graduate from college, Cole said education is an issue that is important to her. 

“I knew that education was the path for [my sons] to have a successful future, so I was determined to make sure that they had a good education,” Cole said.

Since Cole became the first African-American woman on Austin City Council in 2006, she has often paid particular attention to issues involving University students. In November 2013, Cole helped pass an affordable housing bond, and more recently, she contacted student groups to try to increase their involvement with the “stealth dorm” ordinance.

Cole said that when she first joined the council, she was concerned about how to balance the interests of the African-American community while also serving the needs of the greater Austin community.

“I remember that I carried a resolution for Barton Springs Pool and their master plan, and I remember that there was a write-up in a newspaper article that said, ‘She is showing that she will not be pigeonholed to the black issues.’”

Cole said she wondered if she was making everybody mad because she couldn’t do enough.

“You sort of wear two hats where you’re expected to handle the issues that affect the African-American community, but I’ve tried really hard not to limit myself to only those issues,” Cole said. “You want to show that an African-American can do both, but at the same time, you don’t want the African-American community to feel like you’re not representing them.”

Michael McGill, Cole’s policy director and chief of staff who has worked with her for about three years, said sometimes professionals who come by the office ask if they can get a “Sheryl Cole hug.”

“She’s definitely a hugger,” Nancy Cardenas, Cole’s executive assistant, said.

McGill said it’s apparent to him that Cole loves the part of her job that involves interacting with people.

“She’s a genuinely warm person, and that’s in short supply in a job that can wear you down,” McGill said.

Photo Credit: Caleb Kuntz | Daily Texan Staff

Although there has not been much student involvement in the “stealth dorm” issue, Student Government plans to develop resolution regarding the issue, according to incoming SG President Kori Rady.

Austin City Council took an initial vote to limit the number of unrelated adults who are allowed together in a single-family zoned property on Feb. 14. The council will meet on March 20 for a second reading — out of three required to pass. If approved, the limit will be reduced from six people to four.

Rady said he is not aware of any specific student groups who have pushed for legislation on the issue, and student body elections have been the major focus in the last several weeks.

“With Student Government elections and campaigning, [the proposed city code change] was right in the middle of that,” Rady said.

While no SG legislation has so far been proposed or passed, Rady said, in the next several weeks, SG will focus more on the issue.

“I think it’s important to a lot of students,” Rady said. “We’ll definitely start working on something in the next couple of weeks.”

Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole initially proposed that eight weeks be allotted to conduct an economic study to determine the proposed city code change’s potential effect on affordable housing, but her motion was turned down 3-4 in favor of a six-week period of study, which passed 6-1.

Cole said she thinks the difference in votes between the two amendments was a result of some council members deciding that the economic study was necessary.

“[With the second proposed amendment], I think some of us decided we didn’t want to be voting against information,” Cole said. “The first time, we were like, ‘We need to hurry up and finish this.’”

Cole said she was surprised students were not engaged in the process to change the city code.

“I don’t know why students didn’t get involved in that,” Cole said. “I’d like to see that.”