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Pierce opens campaign for Council seat

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 by

Place 6 candidate to focus on infrastructure, economy, affordability and safety

Place 6 candidate Darrell Pierce kicked off his campaign Monday night before an enthusiastic crowd of about 100 adults—as well as a pep squad of about 20 girls—whom he coaches in soccer and basketball. The gathering at Nuevo Leon drew former Mayor Lee Cooke and former Council Member Ronny Reynolds, former County Judge Bill Aleshire, consultants Robena Jackson and Paul Linehan, engineer José Guerra, Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton, and several ministers, including the Rev. Freddie Dixon.

Pierce told supporters he planned to focus on four key issues during his campaign: infrastructure, strengthening the regional economy, affordability, and neighborhood safety. For Pierce, improving the city’s infrastructure will mean not just roads but protecting the city’s environmental infrastructure, including urban waterways such as Little Walnut Creek. He also said that he would work to improve the city’s multi-cultural infrastructure, making sure there are cultural opportunities for all parts of the community.

Pierce, who owns his own business, stressed the need to diversify the region’s economy.

“Austin has been very blessed to have a high-tech, semiconductor economy,” he said. “I think it’s important when people graduate from high school or graduate from college, that we also continue to have a mixed economic development portfolio and that we make sure we have manufacturing jobs and also cater toward semi-skilled and blue-collar workers.”

On the issue of affordability, Pierce said the city needed to do more to help not only those at the bottom of the economic ladder, but those in the middle. “We hear a lot of discussion about affordability….what does that mean? We need to define that,” he said. “We need to make sure that it’s capturing our teachers, it’s capturing the people who are involved in providing basic services throughout our community. Affordability is not only about focusing on the poor, it’s focusing on people who make a sacrifice in their careers to be able to provide education and guidance to our young people, so we have to make sure they have that opportunity.”

In discussing neighborhood safety, Pierce did not stress crime statistics but instead emphasized improving the police department’s relationship with the community. “We do have trust that everyone in your community, regardless of what side of town you live on, north, east south, or west, that everyone in their respective communities feels like they are safe and part of that will require rebuilding strong relationships and partnerships with the police department and with organizations in our community. That’s what I see as a real important step toward building the one team, building the one dream for one city.”

Also addressing the crowd on Pierce’s behalf was Chris Harrison, chair of the Western Oaks Neighborhood Association. A neighbor of Pierce’s, Harrison praised the candidate for his work with children.

Former Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman told Pierce’s supporters his experience dealing with city government would help him if he’s elected to the Council. “I served on the Planning Commission with Darrell, and that is a very important part of city business. A lot of candidates these days go onto the dais without really knowing the basics. Darrell knows the basics,” she said. “If I didn’t know him, I’d be looking at everybody’s background, because it helps me as a voter figure out who the bureaucracy is going to eat for lunch, and who’s going to know it. I think many candidates are met with a rude awakening when they find out about some of the issues that they have to deal with. Darrell will not be rudely awakened.”

Goodman’s spouse, Jack Goodman, is advising Pierce during the campaign, along with political consultants Peck Young, Mark Littlefield and Albert Black. Celia Israel, a longtime friend, is helping Pierce in a volunteer capacity. Pierce will face Sheryl Cole and DeWayne Lofton for the seat currently held by Mayor Pro Tem Danny Thomas. Pierce told In Fact Daily that he had raised about $15,000 prior to his kickoff event. When contribution reports were filed last month, Pierce reported raising only $140 as of Dec. 31. Cole had raised $13,000 and Lofton reported $3,250 during that same time period.

May kicks off run for Place 2

Candidate promises to work for affordable housing, lower taxes, light rail

About 75 people packed the patio of the Juan In A Million restaurant in East Austin Thursday night for Eliza May’s official campaign kick-off party. She’s seeking the Place 2 seat on the City Council currently held by Raul Alvarez, who is not seeking re-election.

ACC Trustees Rafael Quintanilla and John Hernandez joined May for the party, which also served as a birthday celebration for the candidate. Introducing May to the crowd was former County Commissioner Richard Moya, who told the crowd that May had paid her dues through years of community service. “Since she’s been here, she’s been involved in everything you can think of,” he said. “She’s the kind of person who will represent everyone, and not just one special little group.” Also spotted in the crowd were Mary Ann Neely, Martha Cotera, Niyanta Spelman, Larry Jackson and Terry Bray.

May emphasized the need for more affordable housing throughout the city. “We have only begun to recognize how much of a city of opportunity Austin can be,” she said. “We have the opportunity to create a city that is affordable for all.”

To accomplish that, she said she would use her position on the City Council to keep the city’s property tax rate in check, work with non-profit and for-profit developers to build more affordable housing, further streamline city regulations for affordable housing, provide incentives for including affordable housing in within mixed-use projects, and would support the creation of Homestead Preservation Districts and Community Reinvestment Zones.

May also said she would like to change the way the city goes about purchasing items and securing services. “We must look for the opportunities to diversity the city’s procurement process so that all small businesses have an equal opportunity to compete for the millions of dollars in city contracts,” she said. She also pledged to support small businesses in Austin, reminding the crowd of her five-year tenure as President of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “I have spent the past five years helping minority and women-owned businesses to grow and become self-sufficient,” she said.

On transportation, May listed creating a light-rail system as a priority, said she would support commuter rail between Austin and San Antonio, and would oppose “putting toll roads on existing roads with taxpayer dollars.”

May is running against Austin Association of Professional Firefighters President Mike Martinez and former State Senator Hector Uribe for the Place 2 seat.

©2006 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

SOS files suit . . . The Save Our Springs Alliance filed suit Tuesday challenging the City of Austin’s approval of a grandfathering claim allowing Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) to build an office complex in Southwest Austin. SOS claims the city violated the voter-approved Save Our Springs Ordinance by allowing city staff—rather than the City Council—to make a decision on the grandfathering claim. Austin attorney Philip Durst is representing SOS in the suit . . . Petition verification continues . . . The lawsuit is only the latest round in SOS’s fight against AMD. The organization has gathered signatures on petitions for two City Charter amendments, the Save Our Springs Amendment and the Open Government Amendment. City Clerk Shirley Gentry’s office has been working to verify signatures on the first petition, which was turned in last week. Gentry said yesterday that she was still waiting to hear from the statistician hired by the city to determine whether the petition contained the 20,000 signatures required to place the amendment on the May ballot. SOS was expected to turn in the second batch yesterday but they had not done so by 5pm . . . Early Voting. . . Republicans nosed out Democrats in terms of the number of people casting ballots on the first day of early voting Tuesday for the March 7 primaries. Democrats turned out 377 voters while the GOP saw 393 ballots. Early voting will continue through March 3. Go to http://www.co.travis.tx.us and click on elections for early voting locations . . . Meetings . . . The Council Committee for Emerging Technology and Telecommunications meets at 3:30pm in room 1101 at City Hall . . . The City Council Judicial Committee meets at 10am in room 1101 at City Hall . . . The Joint City/County Subcommittee meets at 1:30pm in room 1101 at City Hall . . . The Building and Standards Commission meets at 6:30pm room 325 at One Texas Center . . . The Ethics Review Commission meets at 6pm in room 100 at Town Lake Center . . . The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority Board of Directors meets at 9:30am in room 360 at 301 Congress Ave. . . . Democrats need election judges . . . The Travis County Democratic Party is desperately in need of election judges and alternates for the March 7 primary. Judges need not have to live in the precinct in which they work. If you are interested, contact Garry at Travis County Democratic Party, garry@traviscountydemocrats.org or by calling 477-7500 . . . Moriarty, Hyatt continue to ask . . . Diane Hyatt, the girlfriend of Bill Moriarty, who lost his position as project manager of the Austin Clean Water Project, has filed a lengthy public information request with the city. Hyatt asked for information on the Green Water Treatment Plant, information related to the City Manager’s “affiliation with the Balcones Country Club,” and two years worth of emails to or from David Armbrust, Bruce Todd, Cis Myers, Karen Friese, employees of Parsons Engineering, PBS&J, Malcolm Pirnie, and CH2MHill, the City Council, City Manager Toby Futrell, Deputy City Manager Joe Canales and the management of the Water Utility. She also wants phone logs and meeting notices back to 6/1/04. Moriarty sued the city late last year. . . . 70 people, 1 moth . . . Travis County Environmental Officer John Kuhl told County Commissioners this week that 70 people had attended a meeting to discuss the danger of the Asian gypsy moth at the ACC-Pinnacle Campus on Saturday. Kuhl intends to update the court later this week on the number of residents who have agreed to participate in the eradication program, which will be necessary to avoid a federal quarantine in Travis County . . . Town Lake Park . . . The City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department and the South Austin Culture Club plan an official Town Lake Park Ground Breaking Ceremony at 11:30am today at the site of the future park on Barton Springs Road on the west side of Palmer Auditorium. Mayor Will Wynn, City Council members, community leaders, Parks and Recreation officials and South Austin Culture Club members will break ground to officially mark the construction phase start of the Town Lake Park. The park will be approximately 20 acres in size; will include an interactive water fountain, pond, observation hill, children’s garden, a labyrinth plaza, restrooms, parking, a hike and bike trail, trees, landscaping and a great lawn. The park should be completed by June 2007 . . . Tar-heel toll roads . . . North Carolina transportation officials are in Austin this week to learn about several mobility projects in Central Texas. Much like Austin and other metropolitan areas across the country, North Carolina is facing transportation-financing challenges and is looking for creative solutions, such as toll roads. Board members and staff with the North Carolina Turnpike Authority will observe how state and local agencies are addressing mobility issues. The group will meet with the CTRMA Board this morning before heading to Dallas for more fact-finding.

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