A applicant active to represent East Austin’s Commune 1 rents a abode on East 13th Street but has a abode absolution — meant to abate taxes on an owner’s “principal residence” — on a abode beyond town.
Natasha Harper-Madison, 40, a bounded activist and small-business adviser active for Burghal Council, told the American-Statesman aftermost anniversary that she lives in the 13th Street abode with a roommate. She and her husband, Austin firefighter Thomas Madison, own a home in a Williamson County area of far Northwest Austin. Madison lives there with the couple’s two youngest children, who appear elementary academy in the Round Rock academy district.
Harper-Madison said she confused to the 13th Street abode in October 2016 for claimed affidavit that she will not accomplish allotment of the campaign. She said she did not move there to run for office.
Candidates for Burghal Board are appropriate to abide in the commune they’re gluttonous to represent for at atomic six months afore the filing borderline of an election, which was Aug. 20 for the Nov. 6 election.
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Records from both counties appearance Harper-Madison was registered to vote in Williamson County from 2008 to October 2017, voting best afresh there in November 2016, aback the acclamation included President Donald Trump and Board Member Jimmy Flannigan. Aftermost November, she switched her allotment to the 13th Street house, in Travis County.
Harper-Madison listed her Williamson County home as her campaign’s abode aback she called a broker to activate fundraising in January and on attack accounts forms in January and July. Aback she filed for a abode on the ballot, she listed her 13th Street abode and said she’s resided continuously in the “territory from which the appointment approved is elected” for 17 years.
She said she anticipation that accent meant the city, not the district. Burghal of Austin agent David Green said that’s incorrect, abacus that the area catechism is meant to authorize whether the being has lived in the commune he or she seeks to represent for at atomic six months.
Harper-Madison said she’s not afraid about a claiming in affiliation with her residency, and Green said the burghal has not accustomed any questions or challenges accompanying to it. One of her opponents, Vincent Harding, said he has been asked about her accepting a abode absolution in addition commune but hasn’t looked into the details.
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Residency in Texas is nebulous, authentic added by area you intend to abide than by area you beddy-bye at night, experts said. Spouses’ residencies depended on anniversary added until the 1970s, but affiliated bodies can authorize abstracted residences aback the access of the state’s Equal Rights Amendment, said advocate Buck Wood.
Wood, a longtime belief and political attorney, has formed on address cases for decades but said he rarely takes them anymore because they’re so difficult to pin down.
A abode absolution can be an important allotment of affirmation but is not conclusive, he said. Voting behavior is important. Area accouchement appear academy can be addition point of evidence. Area taxes are paid and added activity rituals are accustomed can additionally matter. In one case, a cloister disqualified that the abode area a man kept his dog was his accurate residence, Wood said.
“It’s acutely difficult to lop somebody off the acclamation for residency,” Wood said. “One affair that will activate it … if (candidates) go aback into what they would now say is their above abode and vote, that’s conclusive.”
Harper-Madison is one of seven candidates active to alter Ora Houston. She has emphasized that she was aloft in the genitalia of East Austin she’s gluttonous to represent and has formed there for years with the East Austin 12th Street Merchants Association. Her parents and ancestors alive in the commune too, she said.
“I grew up in this neighborhood,” she said.
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