Sections

About Us

 
Make a Donation
Fully-Local • Non-Partisan • Public-Service Journalism
 

Martinez tours all 10 Council Districts in announcing for mayor

Monday, April 7, 2014 by Elizabeth Pagano

In a show of support – physical and political – for Austin’s new City Council Districts system, Council Member Mike Martinez kicked off his campaign for mayor Saturday by visiting and hosting events in all 10 districts in just one day.

 

The first stop, at Barton Springs Pool, was well-attended despite chilly temperatures and an early Saturday start time. From there, Martinez jumped into the springs and swam to the south slope, in order to announce in District 5 before diving deeper into District 8. (The boundary runs through the middle of the pool.)

 

“Let’s embrace what’s coming. There’s a historical change coming,” said Martinez. “I’m the only one in this race that publicly supported single-member districts. I campaigned on single-member districts in 2005, because I believe that Austin can be better. I believe that we can have a form of government that truly reflects our community.”

 

“We have had four Latinos on the Council in the entire history of the city,” said Martinez. “This November, you could wake up the day after Election Day and there could be four Latinos on the current Council.”

 

Visiting all 10 districts wasn’t just a way for Martinez to illustrate his commitment to the new 10-1 system; it was also a way for him to show a wide range of support. The day kicked off with former Friends of Barton Springs Pool president Robin Cravey, former Mayor Gus Garcia, and State Representatives Celia Israel and Eddie Rodriguez. The tour also featured endorsements from Alamo Drafthouse’s Tim League, Joe’s Bakery’s Rose Maciel, Hoover’s Hoover Alexander, musician Dale Watson and Transmission Entertainment’s James Moody and (former Martinez staffer) Bobby Garza.

 

In addition to the endorsements, Martinez also extended invitations to City Council candidates, asking them to come to events in their districts. He explained that their presence wasn’t an endorsement, but a way to show that he would work with whoever is elected to Council in their districts.

 

Several accepted. Making appearances were District 1 candidates Andrew Bucknall and DeWayne Lofton, District 2 candidates Delia Garza and Ed Reyes, District 3 candidate Susana Almanza, District 4 candidates Greg Casar, Chelsea Brass, Katrina Daniel, Monica Guzman and Marco Mancillas, District 6 candidates Matt Stillwell and Jimmy Flannigan, District 7 candidates Jeb Boyt, Pete Salazar and Ed English, District 8 candidates Darryl Pierce, Ed Scruggs and Eliza May, District 9 candidate Chris Riley and District 10 candidate Mandy Dealey.

 

“I’m here because I am Mike Martinez’s good friend,” said Rodriguez. “He’s my strongest ally when it comes to affordability issues and affordable housing, sustainable food, animal welfare issues, job creation, small businesses – that’s my guy… He’s our best choice for mayor by far.”

 

Rodriguez also told the crowd that Martinez was the first Council member on the scene after the Halloween floods – a topic that came up several times on the tour. A group unhappy with the city’s reaction showed up at the Dove Springs (District 2) stop, and Martinez addressed it again when he spoke in District 3

 

“I just came from Dove Springs, and there is nothing I can say to make those folks happy or whole. They have faced the most difficult and challenging of times over the past several months… There are hundreds of people still living in harm’s way, and if we are going to talk about priorities, and we are going to talk about what needs to be done, that‘s one of the first things that needs to be taken care of,” said Martinez. “We need to put them at the top of the list – not somewhere in the list – at the top.”

 

That will be especially challenging, given the price tag –perhaps $100 million –to buy out all the properties still in harm’s way.

 

Martinez told a small crowd across the street from Hoover’s Cooking in East Austin (District 1) that he supports helping area school districts to fill the gap left by the Texas Education Agency’s decision to eliminate $5 million in funding for after school programs. He said, “Eight thousand kids this July will lose after school program funding – 8,000 kids, right here in East Austin and Del Valle and Manor…why can’t the City of Austin pick up that tab? Why can’t the city be inextricably linked with our school district ….We should be working together.” He pledged to make education a higher priority for the city if elected Mayor.

 

At Barton Springs, Martinez also addressed transportation issues, speaking in favor of an upcoming urban rail bond, and citing his work as chairman of Capital Metro’s board of directors. He also addressed affordability in the city, saying that while Austin is “arguably the most prosperous city in America,” the prosperity didn’t extend to all Austinites. He promised to be a voice for those who continue to struggle in the city.

 

Martinez introduced himself as a “working class guy” who has spent the last 22 years as a public servant, despite initially arriving in Austin with $50, a trumpet, and dreams of being a musician. Instead, Martinez worked in construction before a job as a firefighter introduced him to public service.

 

“I feel like I am well-prepared, after eight years of serving on City Council to serve as the next mayor of the greatest city in America,” said Martinez.

 

At the beginning of the day, Martinez announced that his campaign manager will be Matt Parkerson. In addition to serving as an assistant to Council Member Chris Riley, Parkerson managed and directed fundraising for Mayor Lee Leffingwell’s re-election campaign in 2009.

 

Martinez’s campaign team also includes Leo G. Aguirre Jr. (who is the son of the late Texas Railroad Commissioner Lena Guerrero), Vanessa Fuentes, Mark Littlefield and Nick Hudson, who most recently managed Sarah Eckhardt’s successful Democratic primary campaign for Travis County Judge.

 

So far there are three candidates for mayor. Martinez is running against attorney Stephen Adler and airline mechanic Randall Stevens.

 

On Saturday, Adler told The Austin Chronicle that he was looking forward to a robust debate with Martinez about the “path the city is going to chart going forward.” As for his position on urban rail, Adler said, “I think mass transportation has to be an element of what we do.”

 

Stephens told the Austin Monitor that he has yet to launch his own street campaign, though he plans to have his website up and running soon. Currently, he is running the campaign through Facebook and Twitter.

 

“I plan to get out and do some voter registration campaigning and get out and meet the public,” said Stephens.

 

Stephens explained that, in his mind, gentrification and rising costs of living are entwined. He said that as commutes become longer and traffic more congested those who can afford to live closer to downtown are choosing to do so, and driving up costs in the process. Stephens said that he supports rail in Austin. Though he criticized the current route, which he said was driven by “political will of Council,” he said that he plans to vote in favor of the rail bond in November.

Join Your Friends and Neighbors

We're a nonprofit news organization, and we put our service to you above all else. That will never change. But public-service journalism requires community support from readers like you. Will you join your friends and neighbors to support our work and mission?

Back to Top