For those who may not know me. I am a third-generation Austinite whose roots run deep throughout this community.
In 1946, at a time when segregation was the law of the land, my grandparents Dr. James Murphy Holloway and Mrs. Mildred Coleman Holloway moved their one-story, front-gabled frame bungalow to a double-lot at 2201 E. 22nd St. in East Austin from Waco, Texas.
My grandfather was one of Austin’s first African-American physicians. He practiced at Holy Cross Hospital, the only integrated hospital in Austin during that time. His first office was on E. 6th Street before moving his office to Waller Street, and finally to New York Avenue.
My grandmother, Mrs. Mildred Coleman Holloway became a prominent figure in Texas Democratic politics. She began her career when blacks were still required to pay a poll tax to vote and later helped launch the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats, the Black Austin Democrats, the United Political Organization and served as an election judge for many years at her polling place at David Chapel Church at Martin Luther King and Chestnut in East Austin.
City Council District 1 — The Negro District
My grandparents moved to District 1 because the all-white, all male, Austin City government, nearly 20 years earlier, on March 22, 1928 adopted a city-wide, land-use plan, the “1928 Master Plan” that expressly and specifically created a “Negro District” in what is now City Council District 1.
By threatening to only run utilities to their homes if they lived in East Austin, this Master Plan created residential segregation in Austin. By deliberately driving African-American and Hispanic residents, who at that time were living throughout the city, to move to East Austin, the Plan effectively legalized institutional segregation through Austin’s municipal housing code.
That bungalow, which no longer stands at 2201 E. 22nd St. — was my mother, James Murphy Holloway Spigner’s childhood-home. My mother and father, Hon. Reedy Spigner, II, lived briefly in the home, and made it my childhood home, before relocating to Dallas in the 1970”s.
After completing college and obtaining a master’s degree I returned to Austin. Back to 2201 E. 22nd St. where I lived with my grandmother until her death in 2003. I would still reside in our family, generational-home at 2201 E. 22nd St., but there have been dramatic changes in East Austin.
Today, Austin is experiencing enormous growth. Each day, our city is growing by 100 additional people, making Austin one of the fastest-gentrifying cities in the United States.
In East Austin, this growth has cost our community greatly. Our population of children under 18 years of age, legacy-residents and working families are declining. Our property taxes and anxiety surrounding issues of race and culture are rising. These conflicts are destroying our sense of community in District 1. Our city government must aid District 1 residents with these challenges.
This is why I am running for City Council.
In both my professional career and civic life, I’ve tried to make Austin a better place, both for its citizens and for visitors who travel here. I have worked for the State of Texas, Senate Committee on Jurisprudence, the Office of the Attorney General and the Texas Department of State Health Services. My extensive background as a research specialist and analyst, in emergency preparedness policy, requires skills well-suited to be District 1’s councilman. It requires intense issue evaluation, strategy, attention to detail, policy development and execution.
I hold a B.A in Marketing from Clark Atlanta University, in Atlanta, Georgia, a Masters in Public Health from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and I am currently completing my PHD in Educational Leadership from Prairie View University in Prairie View, Texas.
My experiences living, studying and working in three (3) southern, capital cities — Austin, Atlanta and Baton Rouge — make me uniquely
prepared to provide innovative insight and solutions. All three cities are facing similar struggles with gentrification, transportation and income inequality.
For some, this year is a mid-term election year. Their focus is solely on division. National, rather than local politics. Republicans vs Democrats. Black vs. Brown. LBGT vs. Straight. However, those labels and stereotypes are irrelevant in this local race.
Let me be clear. This campaign is focused on solutions for District 1 not differences, whether ethnic, class, sexual orientation or party-affiliation. Our campaign will not pit one versus another. Austin needs unity, not division. We welcome everyone. Black. White. Brown. Straight. LGBT. Rich. Poor. These are our neighborhoods, our streets, our lives — Our Austin.
My commitment is to serve all the citizens of District 1 and contribute to its growth and prosperity. I cannot do this without you. I look forward to walking the streets and meeting all the residents of District 1 to hear your concerns.
I ask that you stand with me now, as we stand with each other, to make Austin a city that we are proud to call home, and proud to hand to our children. Thank you for letting me share with you, my story and my motivation for seeking this important office.