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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Thursday, October 11, 2018 by Jo Clifton
IndyAustin raises funds to fight Precourt, Adler
IndyAustin’s specific-purpose political action committee reported raising nearly $30,000 in their campaign finance report filed on Tuesday.
IndyAustin recently started gathering signatures for a petition to trigger an election on the city’s deal with Precourt Sports Ventures, which plans to bring a professional soccer team to city-owned property at McKalla place.
The largest contributors to the campaign are Irving Kessler, who gave IndyAustin $20,000, and Joel Hechler, who donated $5,000. Kessler, who lists his occupation as “former investment manager,” has been identified as an investor in the Circuit of the Americas.
David Butts, a political consultant with ties to both Mayor Steve Adler and Precourt, told the Austin Monitor that Hechler is a friend of Circuit of the Americas founder and chairman Bobby Epstein. Hechler lists his occupation as “former investor.” Epstein worked in the financial industry before becoming involved with Circuit of the Americas.
IndyAustin leader Linda Curtis said Wednesday that she does not know either Kessler or Hechler. However, she noted that each of them asked that their contributions be used only for the campaign to put the soccer question on the ballot. And that money has been sequestered, she said.
In addition to that question, IndyAustin also wants to defeat Mayor Steve Adler and Council Member Pio Renteria in their re-election bids, and District 9 candidate Danielle Skidmore, who is running against incumbent Kathie Tovo.
The third-largest contributor to IndyAustin, was Brian Rodgers, a real estate investor with a passion for good government as he sees it. Rodgers, who contributed $3,000, said Wednesday he particularly wants to defeat Adler. He said the mayor had deceived his colleagues when they voted to divert $80 million from the water utility and $20 million from another fund into the city’s affordable housing fund for the Pilot Knob development. After Rodgers sued the city and a judge voided the deal, Council took another vote and approved the zoning case without the fee waivers.
Rodgers specifically blamed the mayor for the original vote, saying it “shows just a callous disregard for growth paying for itself.”
Curtis said neither Adler nor Renteria bothered to fill out the questionnaires the group sent them. As for Skidmore, she said, she got a D- on the questionnaire, and she is the candidate of the pro-density group AURA.
The group working for the passage of Proposition K, which would require the city to do an audit of every department, reported raising about $23,000 since July and having about $8,600 in the bank.
Contributors to this group, which is led by Michael Searle, former aide to Council Member Ellen Troxclair, include Troxclair and her husband, Caleb, who donated $500, as well as Council Member Ora Houston, who donated $50.
Well-known local Republican Jim Skaggs donated $5,000, as did Michael Kleinman, owner of Planet K.
Matt Mackowiak, chair of the Travis County Republican Party, donated $500, while attorney Fred Lewis, who is generally associated with Democratic causes, donated $250.
Photo by Kate Groetzinger.
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Key Players & Topics In This Article
Austin City Council: The Austin City Council is the body with legislative purview over the City of Austin. It offers policy direction, while the office of the City Manager implements administrative actions based on those policies. Until 2012, the body contained seven members, including the city's Mayor, all elected at-large. In 2012, City of Austin residents voted to change that system and now 10 members of the Council are elected based on geographic districts. The Mayor continues to be elected at-large.