During the State of the district address in July, I listed four major challenges facing the city of Austin and District 1. I keep those challenges in mind every day and it is my hope that the next mayor will as well.
First: Making geographic representation work for the constituents of the districts and the City at large.
Second: Austin is a city in transition. We are experiencing unparalleled population growth, demographic changes, inadequate and failing infrastructure, lack of employment opportunities in certain areas of the city, limited housing for working class individuals, and rising property taxes.
Third: Determining the process for creating a new comprehensive land development plan; one that is equitable and protects neighborhoods - both traditional neighborhoods and those that create our skyline.
We must remember that Austin has a racialized history as it relates to land use plans. The 1928 Master Plan was adopted, and continues today to negatively impact low income, poorly educated, vulnerable populations. 90 years later, the now-shelved CodeNEXT would have had similar effects. The process for the new Code must be fair and transparent.
Fourth: Every dollar the city spends comes from the wallets and purses of Austinites. The property tax revenue and fees from constituents must be managed carefully.
The next mayor will face those issues and many others.
Today, I am endorsing Laura Morrison for Mayor of the City of Austin.
Austin’s mayor is elected by the entire city and must represent the entire city - each district and every Austinite in our “blended family” - not just downtown or the power brokers. Laura has the capacity to listen to individuals throughout the community from the fringes to the city center.
Laura knows Austin is a big city. As past president of Austin Neighborhoods Council she also knows that Austin, like many big cities, is made up of neighborhoods and communities.
Laura was elected in 2008 to the at-large City Council and served six years, two terms. She understands the role of the Mayor in the City Manager form of government which the City Charter mandates.
Laura is collaborative, perceptive, honest, and transparent. She identifies solutions and works toward them. She is a hardworking community leader who listens to the individuals who are closest to the issues and shapes policy accordingly.
In 2013, there was an issue about affordable housing being developed on Astor Place. Prominent individuals from that historic community reached out to the city council. Laura was the first council member to respond. She met with neighbors to understand their issues and worked with her colleagues to craft a solution.
Laura builds coalitions and works with groups from different sides of a complicated, complex issue to find a path forward. She has the capacity to re-introduce civil and respectful dialogue regarding difficult conversations.
Laura is both technical and personable. She has vision, and knows what it takes to be successful.
As mayor Laura will use the power of her office to address inequities. Inequities faced by individuals and families who are a couple of pay checks, or the next property tax notice, away from losing their home and land - 'the American dream' many labored to achieve.
Laura will re-balance the city government's focus on “big ideas”.
“Big ideas” can be important and forwarding thinking. However, constituents also want the city to address the basics: deteriorating infrastructure, growing tax bill, and the small things that constituents expect from the city: removing the vegetation in rights of ways and creek beds, and filling potholes.
Established communities want to feel loved, not just liked. And certainly not ignored.
Laura is her own woman. This city needs her leadership and experience. Austin needs a mayor who is able to deliver effective, collaborative leadership immediately. Laura can and will do that.
I ask you to please vote in the city elections and remember to go down the ballot. There are propositions that will also require your vote For or Against. If you do not cast a vote, others decide the outcomes for you.
Laura Morrison is my choice for mayor. I hope you will consider Laura and make her your choice. I encourage you to support her with your time, your resources, and most of all, your vote.