Zilker Neighborhood Association
Austin, Texas 78704

ZNA Officers Election (2021 Term)

This year's officer election for the 2021 term (January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021) was complicated by COVID-19 and the fact that there was a contested election for the offices of President and Vice-President of Parks and the Environment which required a secret ballot.

The ballots were counted on December 28, 2020. 52 ballots from eligible voters were received and counted. 2 ballots were received from ineligible voters and not counted. The winners will take office on January 1, 2021. The following are the election results (winners in bold):

Office Votes
President James Russell - 19
Bill Bunch - 33
Executive Vice-PresidentGary Hamilton - 48
Vice-President of Social ActivitiesPat Cramer - 48
Vice-President of Communications Megan Paul - 48
Vice-President of Parks and Environment Hanna Coffer - 14
Robin Rather - 37
Vice-President of ZoningBill Neale - 48
Secretary Dave Piper - 48
TreasurerBruce Wiland - 48
ANC DelegateBobby Rigney - 47


The following candidates were nominated by the ZNA Executive Committee:

The following candidates were nominated by ZNA Member Bill Bunch:

Statements by Candidates for President

James Russell Bill Bunch
j.edwardrussell@gmail.com bbunch1960@gmail.com

Hey Zilker, I’m James Russell. I landed on the “shores” of South Austin as a toddler in the early 1980s when my parents fled the Midwest from the ever-shrinking opportunities that Cleveland, Ohio had to offer. Though I left Austin briefly after high school for college and my own “tour of duty” in the Midwest before returning in the Spring of 2011, this city has always remained close to my heart.

I am proud to have served as Executive Director of the Trail of Lights Foundation since 2013. The Foundation was established to ensure sustainability of an Austin tradition. I am also the Executive Director of the Kite Festival Foundation, another Austin institution that I have worked to sustain. Beyond those positions, I also serve as Secretary of the Zilker Neighborhood Association Executive Committee, Board President of the Umlauf Sculpure Garden and Museum, Board President of the Police Activities League, Secretary of the Veterans Day Parade Foundation, Co-Chair of the Parkland Events Task Force, Chair of the Visitor Impact Task Force, and Co-Chair of the Special Event Task Force.

At my core, I am a collaborator-- someone who always strives for consensus, and I try to bring a sense of calm and mutual understanding to issues, whether contentious or otherwise. Knowing that I’ve never been the smartest person in the room, I defer to those with expertise to educate me before I come to a position.

Several years ago, when I was first asked by outgoing Executive Committee member David King to serve on the Zilker Neighborhood Executive Committee, I immediately accepted the opportunity. Not only do I have a strong philosophical belief that involvement in one’s community is what makes one’s community great, but I also feel a strong sense of duty to serve those I represent.

I live on Oxford and have been in Zillker for 33 years. I love and welcome newcomers while cherishing us “Zilker Hillbillys.” As Executive Director and attorney for Save Our Springs Alliance, I have worked for 30 years to protect Barton Springs and Zilker Park, often in close collaboration with ZNA leadership.

I am running for ZNA President now because the Zilker Park master planning process is about to kick off, and I believe we need a strong ZNA voice against further privatization and overdevelopment of the park. City surveys show overwhelmingly that people want our parks to be more natural and less developed. Barton Springs and the park are natural wonders of the world; we need to protect them.

Zilker Park and Butler Shores have been under attack – for development and privatization. Including, for a new soccer stadium, a planetarium, a permanent parking lot for ACL, toll lanes that would cavern over the Mopac footbridge, a restaurant/beer garden, and other proposals. I helped lead the fight against these proposals, working with ZNA. Some of these proposals have not gone away – and others will surface during the park plan process.

I believe Zilker should stay a public park, under City Parks management, and not under privatized management like has happened with Waller Creek Park, the Zilker Botanical Gardens, and Pease Park.

While I respect James Russell, since he is head of the Trail of Lights Foundation, I do not believe he can be the advocate for Zilker Park and keeping it public that ZNA needs at this time.

I also want to increase ZNA membership, neighborliness and community; save our neighborhood trees; minimize urban heat island effects from redevelopment; and protect our zoning protest rights. Please vote for me.

Statements by Candidates for Vice-President of Parks and Environment

Hanna Morgan Cofer Robin Rather
hanna.m.cofer@gmail.com robin@collectivestrength.com
I have had the fortune of living by Zilker Park for almost my entire life. Growing up near Barton Springs and our area’s most prized green spaces led me to build my career around protecting and enhancing these cherished amenities. This started with part-time work at Save Barton Creek Association in college followed by 10 years with Hill Country Conservancy and recently joining The Trail Foundation (TTF). I have been devoted to wearing every hat that these environmental groups afforded, from community engagement to ecological field work. Never before has the public benefit of green space been more apparent than during the pandemic - park and trail usage has skyrocketed. With increased use also comes a greater responsibility to protect and provide equitable access to these spaces, and I believe ZNA should take a role in that process. The potential to take up the baton in efforts to get a trail built along the railroad tracks is particularly exciting, and I look forward to exploring how we can ensure that parkland dedication funds set aside are allocated to this project. My work allows me to keep my finger on the pulse of what is going on at the City level in regards to parks and the environment, and it gives me the luxury of learning more about the processes and partnerships that strengthen the sustainability of our green infrastructure. The Butler Trail around Lady Bird Lake is the trail that TTF stewards, but part of my work is also to stay informed in adjacent parkland issues and projects ranging from slope failures along Barton Creek to the Dougherty Arts Center Redevelopment. The opportunity to bring this knowledge and insight into my own community and to champion our neighborhood is why I want to serve as VP of Parks and the Environment.
A Few Of the Reasons to Consider Robin Rather ZNA VP Parks and Environment
1) Has lived in the Zilker neighborhood since 1996. Loves the people and the natural beauty very deeply.
2) Holds a certificate in advanced mediation from ADRC. Her approach to problem solving is all about mediation and consensus. Handles confrontation very well but prefers creative diplomacy. Has the people skills and ethics to build trust.
3) Is a proven environmentalist. Was elected chair of SOS, a founder of the Hill Country Conservancy, Trinity Edwards Aquifer Protection Association and volunteers at others.
4) Understands public policy and is a quick study on complex problems. Served as the Open Space Chair of the City’s Citizen Bond Committee and “gets” financing for parks.
5) Has wide network among other neighborhood leaders and a long track record of supporting the work of BIPOC community leaders in East Austin.
6) Owns a small business called Collective Strength that does sustainability research/ strategic planning. Recent clients include carbon sequestration/ Baker Institute, Sustainability Master Plan/ UT, Big Bend Conservation Alliance and public outreach projects in Dallas, Tulsa, Nashville and post-Katrina Louisiana recovery.
7) Has a great respect for Hanna Cofer. Believes Hanna’s role at the Trail Foundation is critical. However, that role and what is best for our neighborhood are not one and the same. Might be better to have someone more independent on the side of ZNA right now?
8) Has many ideas to move ZNA forward but wants to listen to others first. Knows it is more important to implement the will of the group than push her own agenda.
9) Is humbly asking for a chance to work hard and help nurture ZNA’s strategy at this pivotal time. Feel free to call/text 512-632-0582 anytime to discuss.
Thank you so much!