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Mayor-elect Adler wins by huge margin

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 by Jo Clifton

Austin has a lot of new faces getting ready to sit on a brand new form of City Council. The future mayor, attorney Steve Adler, who beat opponent Council member Mike Martinez with 67 percent of the vote, celebrated with supporters Tuesday night, with his eye clearly focused on the work ahead.

Adler said: “I’m excited, not only that we won and how we won, but where we won, because the vote coming from all over the city shows that the city really came together in this election. And I think that’s what this election’s all about. Everybody was ready for change — — and now we need to deliver it.”

The mayor-elect said he is ready to change the way that Council does business. “That will mean starting right away to set up new working committees,” he said, in order to get more public engagement early in the process of different decisions. “We have to try to start working as quickly as we can so that we have more input” from the public, he explained.

Martinez conceded shortly after Travis County released the results of the early vote, which showed him in a no-win position. “You know, 69 to 30, that’s insurmountable, so … Especially, you know, knowing that we were behind in the polls,” he said, referring to the Austin Monitor’s polls.

“We’ve been behind this whole campaign,” Martinez said. “We’ve been behind since the beginning, because there is a strong sentiment for a whole new Council and change. But I am absolutely proud of the campaign that we ran and the issues that we stood for, and I have no regrets. I told Steve … As I told him in an elevator seven months ago that should he become mayor, I would be his biggest supporter, and I would help him any way I can. He remembered that conversation and he said he looked forward to taking me up on that.”

His favorite moment? “One of the most rewarding moments about campaigning is when complete strangers …. say I am here because you did this for me.”

During the campaign, Martinez, a three-term Council member, argued that his experience on the Council and his leadership as chair of the Capital Metro board would be major assets should he win the contest for mayor.

The Adler campaign, with its slogan “a new way forward,” argued that the opposite was true. Adler paired the slogan with policy proposals like the 20 percent homestead tax exemption. His argument was simple: “Homeowners are unfairly shouldering a larger share of the property tax burden versus owners of commercial properties.”

Martinez countered that such an exemption would cut taxes more for wealthy homeowners than it would for middle-income Austinites. He also argued that the change would ultimately increase what renters have to pay their landlords. However, the homestead exemption seemed to resonate with voters and was at least partially responsible for the American-Statesman’s decision to endorse Adler.

In the Nov. 4 election, Adler had 37 percent of the vote to Martinez’s 30 percent in a field of eight candidates.

The Monitor conducted two polls, one in mid-November and one in early December. In November, Public Policy Polling, which conducted both polls, found Adler had 56 percent of the vote, Martinez had 35 percent of the vote and 8 percent were undecided.

There was very little change between the November poll and the December poll.

According to the poll conducted in early December, 56 percent of respondents said they would vote for Adler, while 39 percent said they would choose Martinez.

Adler’s campaign manager, Jim Wick, predicted that about two-thirds of the runoff vote would be cast in early voting. That would mean about 25,000 to 26,000 votes would be cast on Election Day as compared to more than 48,000 votes during early voting, or about 15 percent turnout overall for the runoff. On Nov. 4, turnout in the mayor’s race was about 40 percent.

As Wick predicted, turnout was considerably higher on the west side of the city, where candidates were still working hard to get voters out for runoffs in Districts 6, 7, 8 and 10. According to the Adler campaign, those Council district runoffs on the west side would favor Adler over Martinez.

This story is an update of a piece that ran Tuesday evening.

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