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Former mayors endorse Prop A

Wednesday, October 6, 2021 by Elizabeth Pagano

After teasing a “major announcement,” Save Austin Now founders revealed that their campaign supporting Proposition A, an initiative that they petitioned to have on the ballot, has the support of three former Austin mayors: Lee Leffingwell, Lee Cooke and Ron Mullen. Leffingwell explained that he asked the other mayors to join him after he was asked to go on the record with his support. “There’s nothing wrong with having too many police officers,” he said at the press conference, “but there’s a lot wrong with having too few.” His comments were echoed by Cooke, who said that the ratio of two officers per 1,000 residents was a goal they had “strived to fund” since the 1970s, but now it was time. “Cities started 5,000 years ago for one reason: safety. Protect the citizens,” Cooke said. “In those days, they put up walls.” Council Member Mackenzie Kelly also spoke in support of Prop A.

Those at the press conference expressed skepticism that Prop A’s mandated staffing increase would threaten other city services or Fire Department jobs, but the Austin Firefighters Association recently voted to oppose the measure, and city budget staffers have estimated its annual cost at $54.3 million to $119.8 million, which could mean tough choices in upcoming budget cycles. 

Though Save Austin Now leader Matt Mackowiak introduced the three mayors as “the living mayors that live within the city of Austin,” making them “quite in tune with what is actually happening in our city,” Leffingwell now lives in Driftwood. However, Austin remains home to former mayors Kirk Watson, Bruce Todd, Carole Keeton and Frank Cooksey, none of whom spoke at the press conference.

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