For Immediate Release, March 29, 2009
Better Austin Today
Endorsements for May 2009 Austin City Council Elections
Better Austin Today is pleased to announce our endorsements for City Council.
As an organization comprised of neighborhood, local and small business, environmental, social equity and other community leaders, Better Austin Today’s vision for Austin’s future encompasses a wide range of issues. Thus, winning our endorsement requires candidates to go beyond appealing to a single constituency or limited area of City policy. Instead, our broad coalition of interests ensures that anyone we endorse is the “best all-around” candidate in the race who will bring a comprehensive view to office and act with the big picture in mind and a commitment to open, inclusive government. Endorsements require a challenging 60% vote of this diverse board (a full list of members is on our website).
Better Austin Today endorses Lee Leffingwell for Mayor; Perla Cavazos in Place 1; Mike Martinez in Place 2; and Bill Spelman in Place 5. We voted to not make an endorsement in Place 6.
Lee Leffingwell: While Councilmember (CM) Leffingwell has the most progressive voting record of any of the first-tier mayoral candidates, during his tenure there were some policy positions he took that did not adequately balance community input with special interests, especially with regard to the environment. Though some of these issues are still unresolved, the CM made a significant effort to be more responsive to advice from outside city hall and be more pro-active in reaching out for community input. For example his commitment to creating a “Community Cabinet” speaks to his acknowledgement of the importance of inclusive public input before decisions are made at Council. Also while the CM has a very positive attitude toward Austin’s future and our economic strengths, he is sensitive to Austin’s previous boom and bust cycles and is rightly cautious in his fiscal approach which will serve Austin well during these difficult economic times.
Perla Cavazos: Ms. Cavazos’ combined state and local experience provides a unique perspective on City policy-making no other candidate has. She also demonstrated the willingness to stand up to the insider mentality and special interests that frequently dominate city hall. Her strong commitment to social service issues will raise the profile of these issues on the Council; a policy area requiring special attention as Austin grapples with the budget. Throughout her campaign, she has shown her commitment to open and inclusive decision-making with regard to managing Austin’s growth for the benefit of everyone.
Mike Martinez: CM Martinez worked hard in his first term to bring progressive change to Austin, successfully balancing competing interests whose opposing agendas have often prevent positive change in the past. He assumed leadership on some key issues where it wasn’t politically expedient to do so, least of which was challenging the status quo with City management. While his responsiveness to some community interests was a concern of his first term, his commitment to community involvement in policy matters combined with a continuing maturity as a leader, we believe, will result in more inclusive policy decisions and a more seasoned approach in his second term.
Bill Spelman: Mr. Spelman’s previous council experience and academic background in public policy makes him uniquely qualified to lead Austin’s efforts to manage our growth for the benefit of everyone. His track record on the City council and as an involved citizen attests to his strong commitment to the environment, local small business, social equity and neighborhood concerns. He understands how to balance competing interests without compromising important principals and demonstrated a forthrightness in addressing the issues speaks to his integrity as a policy-maker.