Celia Israel in her office at the Capitol (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

State Rep. Celia Israel announced today (Tuesday, Jan. 11) that she is running to be Austin’s next mayor. If elected, she will become Austin’s first female mayor and Texas’ second lesbian mayor, after Houston’s Annise Parker.

Israel made her announcement this morning from Parque Zaragozain Recreation Center in East Austin, broadcasting it on Facebook Live.

Several Austin leaders have endorsed her campaign, including her legislative seat-mate state Rep. Donna Howard.

Israel was first elected to the Legislature in 2014 in a special election ; she became a founding member of the TEXAS LGBT Legislative Caucus. She said she moved to Austin at the age of 17 in 1982 when the city’s population was 359,000. Today Austin is pushing 1 million people.

Issues have changed, including traffic problems, and Howard pointed out that Israel has become the go-to person in the Legislature on transportation issues.

Israel said her other two major issues will be housing affordability and public health and safety.

“We need more, varied diverse housing, and we need it quick,” she said.

Howard pointed out that Israel was among the Democrats who went to D.C. over the summer to lobby Congress to pass voting rights legislation. Because she was out of state, she had to postpone her planned wedding to her partner of 26 years, Celinda Garza.

Among her supporters that spoke, med student Sophia Reyes said Israel would help increase availability of healthcare during the COVID crisis. Austin NAACP president Nelson Linder called Israel experienced and said that she “understands the issues. She hears us.” Ashley Chang said, “Celia leads with humanity. Please help me elect this Latina lesbian.”

The election is nonpartisan and will be held on Nov. 8 this year.

David Taffet