Austin' Statesman's latest piece on the Adler and Martinez - click read more for entire article.
Adler: Austin is ready for a 'New Way'
Posted: 6:00 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014
By Steve Adler
Our city is changing. It’s not the sleepy seat of state government it once was, and it’s no longer just the laid-back home of our state’s largest university. We’re growing, and fast.
For some, the growth is welcome, and for others, it’s too high a price. Our city’s government is changing, too, and we must change with it. Throughout this campaign for mayor, I’ve said that we need a “New Way Forward.” It’s not just a slogan. It is imperative to protect our future for the people of Austin.
If we don’t manage growth, it will manage us. We’ve gone from being the 26th most traffic-congested city in the U.S. to the 4th most congested. Wrong direction. We bring in lots of new jobs, but almost 60 percent of these don’t pay families a living wage. Nearly half of the minority children living in Austin live in poverty. We are losing people and communities and with that we risk losing our city’s soul. We need to reform our property taxes with a 20 percent homestead exemption, reform utility fees with fairer allocations, and fix the city permitting process so it takes less time and costs less money. We must get started on fixing traffic with a long-term mobility plan. Education and job training must be priorities.
Austin is known throughout the world as a special place. We have a treasure of involved, committed and invested residents. We attract folks from all over who come here seeking opportunity and to enjoy our culture, environment and lifestyle. Our city has some of the most talented, creative and entrepreneurial people in the world. We must harness these talents, empower our people, engage new leaders and communities, and get to work to help maintain and improve our quality of life.
A New Way means that we must look at ourselves, our challenges and possible solutions differently. We must become more proactive, thoughtful, deliberate and long term in our thinking. We are proudly known as the “live music capital of the world.” Wouldn’t it be great if Austin was also to become known as the “innovative civic idea capital of the world?”
Lots of cities face challenges similar to ours, but with our world-leading economy and our advantages, there is no city better positioned actually to find the way to maintain and share a vibrant economy while addressing gentrification, disparity in wealth, sustainable utility models and the providing of real opportunity and access. Austin should set the standard for greater integration of private philanthropy and the nonprofit world joining with local government to better serve our community.
A New Way also means changing how we do government. That process began with the adoption of the new 10-1 district council system. We must be brave enough to take the next step and finish the job. Council must do a better job of vetting proposals, propositions and resolutions. We can’t repeat mistakes like the current council’s decision to enter into a $2 billion contract for a wood-burning power plant we barely use yet still pay $50 million a year to let sit mostly idle.
For too long, communities across our city have felt ignored, and the time for representation has come. Now we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to come together. If we choose to continue doing government next year the same way that we finished it this year, then shame on us.
But Austin doesn’t need to change the way it does everything. We don’t want to lose the spirit and soul of our city. To the contrary, we must seek a New Way precisely because it is the only way we can save what’s special about our city.
A new government is a gift for the New Year, and we must embrace it. There’s no silver bullet for our problems, or a magic wand to make traffic flow. The New Way Forward means we need to focus on long-term innovation, revitalize our government, and work quickly on the challenges we face. I’m going to need your help to accomplish this working together with the new council, but first, I’m asking for your vote. Let’s chart a New Way Forward together.
Adler is an Austin attorney and candidate for mayor.
Martinez: Let’s protect Austin affordability
Posted: 12:00 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014
By Mike Martinez - Special to the American-Statesman
In Austin, everyone should be able to get to places like work, home and school in a reasonable amount of time. Everyone should be able to afford to live here and raise a family, and everyone — not just those at the top — should benefit from our booming economy when they work hard.
Austin is booming. This has brought great economic benefit for many of our citizens. But it has also brought challenges.
Austin mayoral candidate Mike Martinez.
I heard from someone not too long ago who said Austin is buckling under its own popularity. I agree.
As a result of our prosperity, it costs too much to live here, it takes too long to drive here, and too many people feel like they are barely holding onto the city they love.
We face these growing pains at a moment of major change. We’ve finally discarded the so-called “gentleman’s agreement” and shifted to direct geographic representation of our City Council members. This change was one I long supported, and the city of Austin literally had to expand the number of seats at the table available for Austinites from different parts of the city by reconstructing the wooden dais where council members sit during meetings. At the first meeting at City Hall in January, at least nine out of 11 council members will be new.
I believe that with a City Council united by common interest and a mayor who understands how local government works, why it matters, and how it can help people, that we can build a fairer, faster, more just and prosperous city.
I am in the race for mayor because I believe my direct work on Austin’s transportation issues will help get our city moving. While my opponent has been working hard on the campaign trail to blame our current council for Austin’s transportation woes, I’ve been rolling up my sleeves and doing real work. I’ve supported an affordable mix of roads, sidewalks, bus paths, bike lanes and rail. When I became chairman of Capital Metro in 2010, I inherited a struggling public transit agency. We turned Capital Metro around and made it the first agency of its kind in Texas to earn a gold transparency rating.
Today Capital Metro eases your commute by moving the same number of people each weekday by bus and rail that could fill Royal-Memorial Stadium.
I am in the race for mayor because I believe we need a mayor who will put the middle class first and stand up to special interests. My opponent is backed by many of Austin’s business elites.
That’s not a coincidence: I tried to make Austin more affordable by asking many of the same companies backing my opponent to offer higher wages in exchange for tax incentives. On City Council, I also worked to protect consumers from payday lenders that overcharge consumers.
I am running for mayor because I want to ensure that Austin continues to prioritize issues like pay equity and women’s health services.
As mayor, I will fight to strengthen Austin’s environmental protections rather than weaken and dilute them. Just a few months ago, I helped set Austin Energy on the course to becoming one of the greenest energy utilities in the nation. My opponent’s record: He lawyered against Austin’s Save Our Springs Ordinance and personally profited from a development that resulted in pollution of the Edwards Aquifer.
I do not want to see Austin’s air and water dirtied, our progress forgotten, our worker protections weakened, or our traffic and congestion problems made worse. That is what is at stake in this race for mayor.
If I am your mayor, I will make City Hall work for all of us. I ask you to join me in this race.
Martinez is a current council member running for Austin mayor.
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