Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Diversity still triumphs in Austin elections

Zoe Fu

My little sister’s middle school (and my former school) is an anomaly in Austin — it’s a school with demographics representative of all of Austin Independent School District. Wednesday evening, my sister called to tell me she’d spent the day watching her friends cry and trying to comfort them. I told her I’d done the same. For many students around Austin, this election was crushing.

The national results challenged our personal identity as Austinites and Americans. For those of us who were raised feeling like a part of an America that valued tolerance and individual freedoms first, we felt betrayed. To those who were raised having to fight for their right to be recognized as Americans, it felt like an indictment of their very existence.

But in Austin, local election results made one thing clear: we will not stand for leaders that work to divide us.

Sally Hernandez, who has previously spoken out against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s deportation policy and even considered making Austin a sanctuary city, won the election for sheriff. Margaret Moore, who’s already begun to revamp the Civil Rights Unit, is our new District Attorney.

But even these results are not free from the kind of divisions that were seen across the country. This year, Texans voted by the demographics that separate them, rather than those that unite them.

In Austin, identity politics played a role in our local elections. Precinct 426 is 77 percent Hispanic, and Hernandez won 82 percent of the vote. But in West Lake Hills Precinct 364, where 90 percent of the population is Anglo, Hernandez only won 51 percent of the vote. But we are all Austinites, right?

While it is important to note that race is not the only factor that plays into a person’s vote, this distinction is worth examining. Austin voted overwhelmingly for candidates who represent inclusion and progress. Sunday morning’s Love Trumps Hate rally at Austin City Hall was conducted in two languages and Mayor Steve Adler was careful to conclude that “everyone living in Austin deserves to be protected and welcomed.”

Glenn Smith was overhwlemingly re-elected in 69.8 percent white Waller County, where Sandra Bland died last July. But we are all Texans, right?

While Sunday’s rally featured personal accounts and calls for “justicia y respeto” that rang off the surrounding buildings, it was my 5-year-old neighbor’s small action that has stayed with me.

Ruby Sutherland listened carefully to my translation of Fernando Lopez’s words then pointed to the pad of paper I was writing on and said, “Can I make a sign?” I handed her a paper and pen. “How do you spell love?” she asked.

Now, I’ve seen indictment after indictment of identity politics in the past week, and that’s understandable. But what we have to see is that identity politics are not a problem if we can recognize that there is a geographic identity we all share. One that cannot be divided by laws or bigotry. We are all Americans first, and we shouldn’t let anybody tell us differently.

MacLean is an advertising and geography sophomore from Austin. Follow her on twitter @maclean_josie

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Diversity still triumphs in Austin elections