Published in the Oak Hill Gazette
After many long weeks on the campaign trail, Ellen Troxclair is settling into her position as District 8’s City Council Member.
But if her downtown office is any indication, she’s not letting herself get too comfortable. After approximately a month on the job, unpacked boxes still lay scattered around the room’s obvious focal point, a computer sitting atop a desk full of papers.
“I have tried to personally respond to every single email I’ve gotten from residents of District 8,” she said. “The expectations have been set really, really high, because people feel like they finally have a voice and there’s going to be more accountability and responsiveness [due to the new 10-1 election system]. So now it’s incumbent upon those who have been elected to meet those expectations.”
At 29, she’s also the youngest woman to occupy this office in Austin’s history. According to Troxclair, her age is an asset rather than a liability.
“We’re a relatively young city. I think the average age is 31 years. And yet that generation was not at all represented in the past by City Hall,” Troxclair said. “I think it’s important that all kinds of diversity are represented, including different generations.”
Her age also factored into why she decided to run for office.
“I’m going to be hopefully raising a family that is going to be affected by the decisions being made right now at City Hall. I’m going to be one of the people paying taxes for decades to come, and we’re going to be impacted by those decisions for a really long time,” she said. “I didn’t see anybody that was clearly articulating the things that I felt were most impacting my family, friends, neighbors and clients.”
The Texas-native wasn’t always on this political trajectory. While studying international business and Spanish at the University of Texas at Austin, she wanted get a job that paid her to travel. Then, she said, she fell in love with the city and decided to stay.
“I got an internship at the Capitol when I was in college, and I loved it. I always enjoyed being behind the scenes, being the policy person, and never thought that I would run for office,” she said.
After graduation, Troxclair married her husband, Caleb, and the couple purchased a home in Southwest Austin. After going through the buying process and becoming friends with their realtor, Troxclair decided to launch her career in real estate. The business now informs her political career.
“I think it’s good to have a foot in the real world, outside of government, and to hear first hand from clients about their struggles about whether or not they can afford property taxes, or their struggles with a commute, or where their kids go to school – a lot of stuff that is truly impacted by decisions that are made by city council. I hear from a non-political perspective in my real estate business, so I think it’s a good experience and good balance,” she said.
Given her background as a realtor and home owner, Troxclair is particularly passionate about keeping housing affordable in Southwest Austin. As a recent appointee to the Regional Affordability Committee, she said she and her colleagues plan to address the district’s rising cost of living from a broad perspective.
“We have 11 taxing entities that are a part of the Regional Affordability Committee. I think it’s hard for the average person to know and to keep up with those different entities, and where and how all those things are working together. Up until now there has been no coordination between them,” she said. “We’re working on how the county, city, the school district, everything as a whole, can come together to address affordability in Austin.”
When she’s not addressing Austin’s issues at City Hall, Troxclair said she enjoys spending time with her husband and two rescue dogs, hanging out in the park and catching live music. She’s also passionate about fundraising scholarship money for kids from Central Texas who are pursuing health-related careers, and, as a former ballet student, is a patron of the Ballet Austin Guild.
However, free time is rare currency these days, Troxclair said.
“I’m here because I think I can make a difference in the future of Austin,” she said. “It’s worth it to me to sacrifice some of my personal time in order to accomplish those goals.”