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Big crowd shows support for Riley’s re-election bid

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 by Michael Kanin

Council Member Chris Riley kicked off his re-election bid before a packed house at Threadgill’s on Monday night. There, he promised Austinites a campaign based around his continued focus on three core issues.


Riley said that in his previous campaign, “I talked about jobs, I talked about transportation, and I talked about preserving Austin’s character. Well, this time around, I’m not going to recycle the same old speech, but I am going to be talking about largely the same things.”


Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez introduced his colleague. “It’s been a privilege and an honor to be a dais-mate with Chris,” he said. “The relationship that Chris and I have as colleagues…is exactly what I envisioned and hoped it would be like: To have a comrade and a friend and a colleague that maybe at times you don’t always agree. But the minute that you disagree, you put that one aside and you pick up the very next (agenda item).” 


Martinez, Mayor Lee Leffingwell, and Council Members Randi Shade, Sheryl Cole, and Bill Spelman headlined a crowd full of Austin politicos who turned out to support Riley’s bid. Lobbyists Jerry Harris and Nikelle Meade from Brown McCarroll, former Austin Mayor Will Wynn, former district court judge Charlie Baird, former Council Member Brigid Shea, and a dozens of other familiar faces were also present.


In his re-election pitch, Riley first cited Austin’s relative success in the employment sector. “We have the privilege of living in a city where that is a more pleasant subject than just about anywhere else in the country,” he said. “Austin is leading the United States out of the recession.”


He then moved on to the just passed $90 million bond initiative that will fund transportation infrastructure improvements. “(This) represents the most progressive transportation bond we’ve ever done in the history of Austin,” he said.


He added that Capitol Metro – where he is a board member – had “really turned the boat,” despite what he called a “saga” during his tenure. Here, he cited Martinez’s leadership.


Riley also looked forward to a potential Urban Rail bond election in 2012. “We have a lot of work to do to figure out how that would work,” he said.


He went on to display his excitement about the form based code rezoning along a section of Airport Boulevard – an effort which Riley spearheaded. “We’re trying to basically reinvent the way that Austin deals with its major transportation corridors,” he said. “It’s a very exciting opportunity to transform the way we approach the growth of this city.”


He summed up his remarks with a familiar call to arms. “We all have high expectations for the City of Austin,” he said. “And we’re only going to achieve these expectations if we all work together—join together and aspire to be the city that we know Austin can be.”


Riley won the balance of Leffingwell’s Place 1 term after Leffingwell announced his run for Mayor. Should Riley be re-elected, it would mark his first full term on the council.


Frequent Austin candidate Josiah Ingalls will challenge Riley for the seat. According to a statement on his web site, Ingalls will “work to increase healthy economic growth while balancing environmental issues” if elected.

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