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Strama says current session to be his last in Texas Legislature

Thursday, February 21, 2013 by Michael Kanin

State Representative Mark Strama (D-Austin) announced Wednesday that he will not seek a sixth term in that office. The news came as part of an entry posted on his Inside the Rail Texas blog.

 

There, Strama also directly addressed growing speculation about his next move. “I know you’re all assuming this means I’m running for mayor of Austin.  It doesn’t,” he wrote. “I still haven’t decided, and don’t intend to decide until after session is over.”

 

In his statement, Strama wrote that he and his wife Crystal Cotti decided that he would not run for state representative again before the start of the latest legislative session. He noted that “the norm around here is that you don’t announce that you’re not coming back too early, because lame-duck status can reduce your effectiveness.”

 

Strama wrote that “the biggest reason” he decided against another state house campaign was “that there are a bunch of really talented folks interested in running to replace me, and I want them to be able to start introducing themselves to voters without having to tap dance around me.”

 

By all appearances, he’ll get his wish. The list of parties interested in Strama’s seat includes attorney and City of Austin Associate Municipal Court Judge Ramey Ko and well known community affairs consultant Celia Israel.

 

Ko did not return calls seeking a comment on Wednesday but friends indicate that he is considering the race. Israel told In Fact Daily that she was definitely running for the seat. “Oh I’m in the race,” she said.

 

She said that she had thought about running for Strama’s seat for two years. “I would be honored to serve as the next state rep for District 50,” she said, careful to note that she has plenty of respect for Strama. 

 

The vice chair of the city’s Zero Waste Advisory Commission and current Travis County prosecutor Rick Cofer has also been mentioned. Cofer, however, was quick to refute that notion.

 

“I am not (running),” he told In Fact Daily. “I am very happy doing what I am doing.”

 

Cofer, who once roomed with Ko, was frank about where his loyalties rest. “I am looking forward to writing a check out to Ramey Ko,” he continued.

 

Strama’s announcement furthers what has been an early start to campaign season in and around Austin. Also Wednesday, former State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos announced that he would not join the race to replace Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe. In so doing, Barrientos backed current Pct. 2 Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt, should she aim for Biscoe’s seat. Travis County Democratic Party chair Andy Brown is already in that race.

 

The field for Austin Mayor could be crowded. Indeed, at least three sitting Council members – Laura Morrison, Mike Martinez, and Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole – have been connected with a potential run. 

 

Strama continued to insist that his mayoral ambitions really are in question. “I am thinking about running for mayor, but I’m also thinking about a lot of cool things I could do in the private sector once I’m freed up full time again,” he wrote. “I’ve done a lot of work on renewable energy and on education technology, and both are areas where I believe I might have a greater impact through private entrepreneurship than I’m able to have in government.”

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