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Martin, McLellan both drop out of campaign for Austin mayor

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 by Michael Kanin

The field of candidates running for Mayor of Austin got considerably smaller Monday as community activist Patsy Woods Martin and former 3M Company executive Bill McLellan have both said they are dropping out of the race. That leaves Austin attorney Steve Adler as the only announced candidate.


Less than a week after she formally declared her run, Martin – the founder of the charity I Live Here I Give Here – surprised the city’s political set Sunday with an email that announced her departure from the race. McLellan announced his departure Monday evening, saying he was dropping out for personal reasons.


In an email under the subject heading “Sanity,” Martin wrote that “while I continue to believe I could be a good mayor for Austin and so much of the short journey has been interesting and exciting, I find I’m spending way too much time bogged down in a process that appears to have little to do with public service.”


McLellan, who is 77, said he was concerned over the rigors of running a yearlong campaign


“I’ve never been in politics before but my wife was—and it was horrible,” he said, referring to the race his wife, Kelly White, lost narrowly to Todd Baxter in 2004. “A while back some guys approached me and asked me to run for Mayor. I talked to a lot of people, then Patsy Woods Martin entered and then Steve Adler announced.”


McLellan said he was endorsing Adler. “Adler’s a friend of mine and we’ve done a lot of things together,” he said. “I think he’d make a great Mayor… he has some great ideas around traffic and land use.”


Martin did not offer any other specifics about her decision. As of the end of December, Martin had personally spent more than $50,000 getting ready to run. There is no doubt among observers that she could have self-funded a campaign likely to cost mayoral candidates more than one-half million dollars each.


Martin’s spokesman, Glenn Smith, declined to speculate on any rumors related to Martin’s decision. He said, “I’m willing to go on the record and say her email was honest and straightforward and speaks for itself. Those are her reasons.”


As she said in her email, “I’ve thought about this more and more over the past two weeks. And before we invite more folks to join us, I believe it’s time to pull the plug.”


Martin, who trained as a chemist, has an extensive resume as a community activist. Informal conversations with various sources seemed to indicate broad support for her run, a fact that compounds the surprise observers felt upon learning of her sudden departure.


Martin’s exit opens the field for Adler, a near-certain campaign from Council Member Mike Martinez and a potential run from Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole. Council Member Bill Spelman has ruled out the race and Council Member Laura Morrison seems likely to sit it out too.


Like Martin, Adler is an outsider with extensive political connections. His legal expertise is in the arena of municipal takings, where he has conducted a number of successful challenges to various condemnations.


Adler has already started to amass the informal backing of Austin political operators.

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