Austin mayoral candidates face off for final time

The last two candidates standing in the Austin mayoral race debated for the final time Dec. 7.



Councilman Mike Martinez and political newcomer Steve Adler discussed transportation, education, affordability and other issues during the last official meeting between the two candidates prior to the Dec. 16 runoff election.



Transportation



On transportation, Martinez said Austin should solve its congestion problem by becoming "the best bus city in America" by expanding existing public transit services.



Adler argued buses would be stuck in the same traffic as other cars, so the city should consider creating more dedicated bus lanes. He also said people voted down the rail bond, which also included money for anticipated road improvements, because they failed to see how the train project would directly benefit them. He also cautioned there is no way to build or buy Austin out of the traffic problem the city faces.



Affordability



Adler has touted a percentage-based homestead exemption during his campaign, a pledge he continued to stand by during the Dec. 7 debate. Under his plan the city would lose a great deal of revenue, so he suggested putting the financial burden on commercial properties.



Martinez said it would be difficult to find money to make up for the $36 million deficit that would be created under Adler's plan, but a solution could be reached during budget season by asking "tough questions" to each department seeking funding. He acknowledged that services would likely be cut or taxes would likely go up as a result and that City Council cannot keep going to voters seeking more money for affordable housing.



Job economy



With Austin frequently mentioned atop many lists for its job growth and innovation, Martinez said the city should focus more on economic equality during this time of prosperity. Companies that come to Austin should not be incentivized, he said, unless they pay workers at least $11 per hour and provide health care access.



Adler echoed that sentiment, explaining that 57 percent of the jobs to recently come to Austin do not pay minimum wage, and the city should be encouraging development that results in more middle-class jobs.



Education



The largest portion of homeowner's tax bills go toward Austin ISD funding, Martinez said. In order to make those dollars spread further, he said City Council and AISD should meet more often than once every three months—as currently mandated—so any issues can be better addressed.



Adler said there are state dollars not currently being utilized that he would like to see the school district tap into. He also said universal pre-K should be offered to all Austinites.



Looking forward



When asked why voters should choose them for mayor, both candidates offered very different views on why they would be the right fit. Adler said a vote for him would bring about a new direction for Austin instead of continuing down a path he believes puts the city in a worse position.



Martinez encouraged voters to support him because of the experience he would bring to a council full of mostly newcomers. He also said his personal experience struggling to make ends meet makes him a strong voice for the working middle class.



MOST RECENT

Austin, Travis County and Austin ISD officials gathered Sept. 24 to discuss local resilience planning. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin, Travis County, AISD look to build collaboration on community disaster hubs

The governments and school district are looking to grow a network of facilities that can provide resources to residents amid weather emergencies.

Screen shot of Desmar Walkes speaking at a press conference
Austin Public Health eyes possible shift to Stage 4 guidelines

Local health leaders said they want to see the current downward trend of COVID-19 hospitalizations persist before making any changes.

Kyle City Council voted 6-1 and approved the new citywide trail master plan that will utilize 2020 bond election funds for trails that will help connect Austin to San Antonio. (Courtesy Pexels)
CI Nation roundup: Perfect Game coming to Cedar Park; Kyle City Council approves trail master plan to connect Austin to San Antonio and more top stories

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Sept. 24.

Huston-Tillotson University is one of three Austin sites tapped to move toward national historic designation in September. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
East Austin university and high school stadium, Allandale 'air-conditioned village' move toward national historic recognition

The former Anderson High School stadium and Huston-Tillotson University could soon be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said Sept. 23 though the district has been awarded emergency funding, it has only had access to a fraction of it. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD superintendent lays out barriers to receiving emergency funding

Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said while it seems that the district has received "millions and millions," it has been able to use a fraction of granted emergency funds.

Austin is one of five cities worldwide included in the company's new integration. (Benton Graham/Community Impact)
Electric scooter company Bird will now show available Capital Metro bikes in its app

Riding a scooter this weekend? Keep an eye out for Bird’s new integration with Capital Metro’s bikeshare.

Wayback Burgers specializes in cooked-to-order burgers and hand-dipped milkshakes. (Courtesy Wayback Burgers)
Wayback Burgers coming to Leander; former Round Rock Steak N' Shake to become Whataburger and more top Central Texas news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Central Texas area.

Kevin Foster, an Austin ISD board trustee, alerted the board Sept. 23 to his concern about a police response at LBJ Early College High School last week. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD trustee questions police response after hoax 911 call

After a large police response to a falsely reported school shooting last week, one member of the Austin ISD board of trustees is concerned about police scaring students.

The new signs are visible at the intersections of San Antonio Street and Sandra Muraida Way. (Courtesy Austin Transportation Department)
New parking signs in downtown Austin will update number of available spaces for 3 lots in real time

The signs provide real-time parking information for the Austin City Hall, Austin Central Library and Seaholm lots. They will begin to show the real-time data next week.

Several parents of New Caney ISD students spoke at the district's Sept. 20 board meetings about recent allegations that a student brought a firearm to Porter High School's Sept. 18 homecoming dance. NCISD Superintendent Matt Calvert stressed that no gunshots were fired at the event, and that the district is investigating the allegations. (Wesley Gardner/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI Nation roundup: Round Rock ISD trustees considered for censuring; New Caney ISD addresses allegations of student with gun at campus event and more top stories

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Sept. 23.