By CASSIE MCKEE, FOUR POINTS NEWS
House District 47 is affluent, highly-educated and politically conservative. It is the only Republican-held seat in Travis County.
The seat has been held by Rep. Paul Workman since 2010, when he narrowly defeated Democratic incumbent Valinda Bolton.
HD 47 became an even more Republican-leaning district in 2012 after district boundary lines were redrawn by the Texas Legislature, according to James Dickey, chairman of the Travis County Republican Party. Dickey said the redistricting resulted in two unfortunate but foreseeable outcomes.
“One, it pretty much guaranteed that each term the incumbent in that district would be challenged, especially to the extent they could in any way be painted as being less conservative than the Republican party voter base, and two, it unfortunately changed (HD)48 from a previously possibly winnable race for a Republican to a district that has almost no chance of being a winnable district for Republicans.”
District 47 stretches across western Travis County and includes Four Points and the communities of Lakeway, Lago Vista, Jonestown and Bee Cave.
It is a highly-educated, affluent and predominantly white district, with 59 percent having a bachelor’s degree or higher, and 31.5 percent having a household income of between $100,000 and $199,000. 17 percent earn more than $200,000 per year, according to Census data. The median home value is $348,028 and 71 percent are homeowners.
The district has a low percentage of residents living in poverty – just 5.2 percent – compared to the state average of 17.6 percent.
Nearly 50 percent of residents are families with children under the age of 18, with 42.9 percent being married coupled families. Among school-aged children, 67.3 percent are enrolled in public schools in grades pre-K through 12th grade.
Another interesting characteristic is that 12.7 percent of residents work from home, a high number compared to the state average of 4 percent. For those who commute, 32.6 percent travel between 15 and 30 minutes to get to work and 25.9 percent travel 30 to 45 minutes.
The conservative leaning of Four Points area voters was reflected in 2014 with the election of Don Zimmerman to the Place 6 seat on the Austin City Council.
“Northwest Austin has always been a more conservative portion of Travis County,” Dickey said.. “It’s part of why the 10-1 panel created District 6 the way that it did — so this area could have a voice that represented the previously unrepresented conservative viewpoint on the city council.”
Western Travis County voters also tends to be one of the more active voter populations in Travis County, according to the city’s demographic data.
“You’re seeing the emergence of a pretty strong Republican base in western Travis County,” said Austin Demographer Ryan Robinson. “When you look at the western suburbs like Circle C, River Place and Canyon Creek, they’re not only more affluent they’re also more politically conservative. That’s just part of the whole evolution of Austin.”