Who am I?

I came to Austin in 1988 to start the Texas chapter of Clean Water Action. Prior to that, I had been an award-winning journalist at NPR stations in Minnesota and Philadelphia. I was elected to the Austin city council and served 1993-1996 and championed consumer, electoral and environmental reforms, including the 1994 electric rate case; I retired after the birth of my first child. As the co-founder of SOS, Save Our Springs, I helped usher in a new community consensus that preserving our environment is key to a strong economy. I am a recognized leader who has been an advisor to LCRA, Seton, SDC Communities, Vignette, Green Mountain Energy and numerous corporate and non-profit entities on environmental policy and community issues.

I have 2 teenage boys in AISD, am a member of the McCallum high school PTA, and a small businesswoman. My pollution reduction work with a client recently won the TCEQ Environmental Excellence award. I also worked on the national award-winning Austin Clean Water Program, which repaired leaking sewer lines across the city. I serve on many boards, including the national board of Clean Water Action. I am a 2001 graduate of Leadership Austin and is a current member of the Chamber of Commerce Clean Energy Council. I am married to John Umphress, a Green Building specialist with Austin Energy.

Why am I running?

I’m running for Travis County Commissioner because I believe we have to reclaim the idea of public service. A lot of people don’t like politics or politicians. It’s time to reestablish the notion of public service.

County government affects all of our lives. Each year the Commissioners Court sets the tax rate, spends $800 million in revenue and creates policies that affect more than 1 million people, including over 5,000 employees. It is heavily involved with protecting our environment and our quality of life.

I am running to reform a broken property tax system that has put an undue burden on homeowners and small businesses. Residential property appraisals have more than doubled in the recent decade, causing homeowners tax bills to go through the roof. The process is broken and I will make it my business to fix it.

We must have a comprehensive approach to protect our dwindling water supply. Hoping for rain is not a plan to deal with our increasingly dry weather. I will push for greater water conservation and to improve water quality.

We must deal with the fact that Travis County faces a growing threat of wildfires. I have a plan to pursue federal grants that will allow us to create the best preparedness program in the nation. We have all the talent and knowledge in Travis County to design a model program. We can both preserve our natural resources and keep our residents safe.

My Goals

My top three policy goals are to fix the tax appraisal system, improve our disaster preparedness and protecting our natural resources, especially water.

Property Tax
Our property tax appraisal system is broken and I plan to reform it. As it is, the process puts an undue burden on homeowners and small businesses. Residential property appraisals have increased 110 percent in the recent decade. In that same amount of time, appraisals on vacant lots have gone down 7 percent. The system is squeezing out the very people who helped make Austin such a great place to live. The process is broken, and I will make it my business to fix it.

Disaster Preparedness
We’ve got to face the fact that Travis County faces a growing threat of wildfires. That threat is made worse by the drought. As Travis County Commissioner, I will pursue federal grants to create the best community preparedness program in the nation. We have all the talent and skill in Travis County to design a model program. We can both preserve our natural resources and keep our residents safe. All we need are leaders to take the initiative.

I am so very proud of my leadership in protecting Barton Springs. For 25 years, I have been a leader in establishing our extensive preserve system in Austin and Travis County. Our county government needs to play a stronger role in protecting our environment and quality of life. County’s don’t typically have much land use power. We need to push for it. I will work to increase that power at the legislative level and through regional initiatives. The county does have authority over subdivisions. There are many opportunities for us to be national leaders in the arena of green subdivisions featuring rainwater collection systems, xeriscaping, purple pipe, energy-efficient buildings, on-site solar and renewable energy, etc.

For 25 years, I have worked extensively on water and environmental issues and I will use this knowledge to pursue solutions at the county level. Central Texas is feeling the impact of the dramatic changes in the weather. And scientific data indicates this region will become even hotter and drier in the future. We are losing our water supply. Our drinking water is under threat. As our lakes continue to dry up, we will lose tax revenue and our tax base. Our bays and estuaries, essential to life as we know it, are already under threat from the gradual heating up and drying out of the region. Once river flows to the bays and estuaries are choked off, marine life and complex food chains will suffer. Ultimately, Central Texans will be affected. We have to be more vigorous about conserving and reusing the water we have.

My DFA Values

My campaign embodies the value of community by involving people from all walks of life. I have over 600 (and growing) public supporters, supporters who are teachers, small business owners, service sector workers, members of the LBTQ community and neighborhood leaders. I am campaigning to strengthen our community by keeping it affordable for all Travis County residents and not jus the wealthy as well as protecting our environment.

My campaign embodies the value of security by advocating policies that protect our environment and invest in our schools. One of my top priorities as commissioner is protecting our environment, especially our local sources of water. I have a 25 year track record of building coalitions to protect natural assets like Barton Springs. As commissioner I will work to end unnecessary tax subsidies for corporations that don't need them, which has taken tens of millions of dollars from school districts.

My campaign embodies the value of liberty by being open to all people regardless of race, religion, creed, etc. As commissioner I will advocate for policies

My Campaign is People Powered!

I have been and will continue to engage the progressive grassroots community in Travis County. One example of grassroots outreach is a recent meeting with the League of Women Voters where I was able to share my message, listen to their concerns and and recruit volunteers. We have also engaged with and earned the support of environmental activists in the community.

Moving forward we will continue to attend neighborhood community meetings, reach out to the Texas University Democrats, engage in community events, build our volunteer network and continue knocking on doors and making phone calls to the voters of Travis County Precinct 2.

Voice support


  • Christian L. Smith
  • Tammy Kimmelman
  • Jeremiah Santos
  • Adrian Juarez, NY
  • William Hughes, PA
  • Kristin Fine
  • Kristian Caballero
  • Betty Weed
  • Wade Miller
  • James Robert Stratton
...and 1 more.

About the Endorsement Process

The driving force behind all DFA endorsements is our members. We recognize that all politics is local and that what is considered progressive in Los Angeles may be very different from what's considered progressive in Louisville. For this reason, DFA does not have a litmus test of specific progressive positions for which a candidate must stand. Our endorsement is heavily weighted based on these questions:

• Will the candidate move the progressive movement forward in their community?
• Does the candidate have substantial support from our local members?
• Do the candidate's positions and policies fit into the broader progressive movement?
• Is the campaign people-powered and the candidate working to win?

If you have questions, or want to let us know about a candidate in your neighborhood, please call us at (802) 651-3200 or email us at [email protected] .

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