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Leffingwell takes a side

Tuesday, April 12, 2016 by Elizabeth Pagano

As widely reported yesterday afternoon, former Mayor Lee Leffingwell has officially jumped into the ride-hailing fight with the announcement that he will be the new chair of Ridesharing Works for Austin. Ridesharing Works, of course, is the political action committee that formed during the debate over legislating ride-hailing companies in Austin, and it has continued as “Vote for Prop 1,” which is encouraging Austinites to do just that in the May 7 election. Although the news is notable due to the low profile Leffingwell has kept since leaving office, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who have been paying attention for a while. For one thing, the group is advocating a return to the rules passed by City Council while Leffingwell was mayor. Also, Leffingwell’s former chief of staff, Mark Nathan, worked for Uber during this winter’s petition drive has been a visible supporter of Prop 1. In his official announcement, Leffingwell said he was “proud to join the Vote for Prop 1 campaign.” He continued, “I have been a strong proponent of public safety and economic opportunity during my time in public service. The rules that I and the City Council put in place in 2014 allowed for companies like Uber and Lyft to operate with stringent background checks while helping to reduce DWI accidents and providing safe, reliable rides for Austinites.”

Clarification: Nathan has not been a supporter of the Proposition 1 campaign, though he was employed by Uber during the petition drive process. However, he discontinued that work after Mayor Steve Adler’s push for a compromise failed.

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