Martinez to emphasize affordability, mobility in campaign for Mayor
Thursday, March 20, 2014 by Jo Clifton
Though he won’t be formally launching his campaign for Mayor of Austin until April 5, Council Member Mike Martinez did expand on his Tuesday night “announcement to announce” he was running.
Martinez told those gathered Wednesday outside City Hall that he would be formally launching his campaign April 5, starting with a main news event at downtown’s Butler Park, then moving on to events in each of the 10 new Council districts.
“It’s a big change coming, it’s a new form of government, and we just want to fully embrace it and make sure that it’s a success,” said Martinez. “For me, it’s a message of opportunity. It’s a message that the City of Austin is coming to you.”
In addition to asking supporters to join him on his tour of Austin, Martinez also took time to address his platform in more detail. He said that affordability was his first priority, with traffic running “a close second.”
“One of the things that I have fought hard for as a Council member over the last eight years is the affordability issue: creating a living wage, and implementing a prevailing wage where we could. But now we’re looking at tax relief via homestead exemptions, we’re looking at other areas where we believe we can have a true impact on people’s daily lives as it relates to affordability in Austin.”
Martinez included not spending this year’s budget surplus as one of those things.
Referring to Tuesday’s Council work session, he noted, “In the end, the Council chose to maintain those cash reserves. There will still be other questions raised as to whether or not there’s a justifiable expenditure. But I think what you saw yesterday is Council really understanding priorities as it relates to affordability, and trying to reduce the tax burden on our citizens here in Austin.”
When questioned about how he planned to address future growth in the city, Martinez pointed to the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan.
“The issue of growth – it’s happening. 110 people a day are moving to Austin. It is not about ‘Can you stop growth from happening?’” said Martinez. “It’s about how you make it most appropriate for what is available in Austin in terms of infrastructure, and where we think we can handle such rapidly rising densification of certain parts of our city.”
Martinez made it clear that he was ready to campaign, and to embrace the new single-member district system.
“I believe in my city. I believe in our city. I believe that I spent the last 22 years – 13 as a city firefighter and the rest as a City Council member – working hand -in-hand with our community and dealing with the day-to-day issues that face each and every Austinite,” said Martinez. “I believe that experience and that background will serve me well as mayor. And I look forward to the campaign and the debate of those issues throughout the campaign.”
Asked what his weaknesses might be, Martinez responded, “I have eight years of voting as a City Council member. So I have eight years of people agreeing with me and disagreeing with me. I will stand on my record. I will run on my record,” said Martinez. “And where I made votes that I think were in error, I will own up to those questions.”
The other confirmed candidate in the race is local attorney Steve Adler. He is expected to make an announcement within the next few weeks but his campaign did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment. His website is www.AdlerforAustin.com.
Martinez’ announcement leaves Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole as the only well-known possible candidate who has not said what she plans to do. On Wednesday, Cole declined to indicate her plans but said she would be making an announcement in about two weeks. Council Member Laura Morrison announced her intention not to run for Mayor Tuesday.
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