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Strayhorn comes out swinging at her first candidate debate

Thursday, March 12, 2009 by Austin Monitor

Mayoral candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn made her first joint appearance with Council Members Lee Leffingwell and Brewster McCracken on Wednesday at the Austin Board of Realtors candidate forum. Strayhorn used the forum to blast the two incumbents, accusing them of supporting a greenbuilding regulation that harms homeowners.


“I want our hard-working Austin families to be able to buy a home, live in that home, and if they choose, sell that home without a Mayor and a Council that stands in their way.” Strayhorn said, winning a round of applause from the audience. “Not on my watch.”


Strayhorn was referring to the Green Energy Audit that is now required when existing homes are sold. The audits are part Austin Climate Protection Plan, passed by the Council in 2008, and are intended to conserve water and electricity by encouraging home repairs that improve efficiency. “While I strongly support green power and renewable energy, I want to provide incentives, absolutely no mandates,” Strayhorn said. “And I am adamantly opposed to the Green Energy Audit that was mandated by the Council Members that are running for Mayor.”


The Austin Board of Realtors had campaigned against the audits when they were proposed. “Ultimately, after the input of a lot of stakeholders, including you,” Leffingwell told the audience. “We all agreed on a process that would require an energy audit only, and then a voluntary system of upgrades after that. I voted for that. Everybody on Council voted for that, including Brewster McCracken.”


McCracken also tried to reassure the group he did not intend to press for additional requirements beyond the energy audit. “I was against a mandate for mandatory upgrades,” he said. As for the requirement for a Green Energy Audit, he said it was his personal experience that it was not a burden. “I could tell you as someone who sold a home last year,” he said, “whether we officially call it an energy efficiency audit or not . . . we replaced our air conditioner and took a credit for insulation, because that was pretty much what would have happened anyway.”


Candidates Josiah Ingalls and David Buttross, a realtor who filed his paperwork to run for the office on March 9, were also at the forum. Following the presentation, Strayhorn was asked why she had bypassed previous events. “You’ll see a lot of me. I run with the people, and I have been out with the people,” she said. “I am reaching out to people who have not been voting because they are turned off by this Council. They think that they do not have a voice. I’m out there demonstrating that I will fight for the citizens of Austin.”


McCracken offered some post-debate reaction to Strayhorn’s performance, saying that “she packs about three times as many words per minute as the rest of us, so it’s pretty entertaining.” But, he said, “I still didn’t hear her talk about jobs or opportunity. And to me, the most important issue is how we’re going to create new job opportunities in this city.”

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