Why me and not Steve Adler

Photo by Mike Martinez campaign

Austin is an island of blue in a sea of red. In the November elections, Republicans hit Democrats pretty hard in Texas — wouldn’t it feel good to hit back?

Austin voters will soon choose who they want to be their next mayor. I’m supported by more Democrats. Steve Adler is supported by more Republicans. In fact, Adler is supported by 89 percent of Austin Republicans, according to a new Austin Monitor poll.

I believe we need to make Austin more affordable for all Austin residents. Adler’s plan would give a huge tax break to millionaires in a handful of neighborhoods, paid for by the middle class.

It’s time to tell Adler and his Tea Party allies in Austin: Thanks but no thanks.

If you haven’t noticed, one of Adler’s favorite pastimes is to talk about what a terrible place Austin is to live. It’s true that Austin faces challenges, but I believe that together we can make the city even greater than it already is today.

We need to focus on affordability, because for many it costs too much to live here. We need to focus on transportation, because it takes too long to get around. We need to focus on the environment, because our children can’t afford to live in a city with polluted air or dirty drinking water.

Take transportation. My opponent has spent a lot of time talking about solving our transportation crisis, but I’ve been rolling up my sleeves and actually fixing it. 

When I took over the city’s bus service, it was on the brink of disaster. We turned it around and now provide the city with 34 million trips per year. That's not just talk. That's real minutes and hours cut from your commute each year. As mayor, I’ll reduce congestion and get Austin moving. I know how. Adler’s doesn’t. 

On the City Council, I asked corporations to offer higher wages in exchange for tax incentives. Now, many of those corporations are backing Adler. Austin needs a mayor who will put the middle class first and stand up to special interests. 

As mayor I will work to protect consumers from payday lenders that overcharge consumers. I’ll ensure that Austin continues to prioritize issues like pay equity and women’s health services.

And rest assured, I will fight to strengthen Austin’s environmental protections rather than dilute them. 

Not long ago, I helped set Austin Energy on the course to becoming one of the greenest energy utilities in the nation. Adler chose a different path: He worked as a lawyer against Austin’s Save Our Springs Ordinance and profited from a development that resulted in the pollution of the Edwards Aquifer. 

If my values and my policy ideas sound progressive to you, it’s because they are. I don’t want to see Austin’s air and water dirtied, our progress forgotten, our worker protections weakened or our traffic problems worsened. That’s what’s at stake in this race.

If Adler wins, so do the Republicans who back him — because Republicans support Steve Adler. They donate to Adler, and Adler’s law firm has donated to them. He has also proposed policies that benefit many Republicans. 

This runoff presents an opportunity for Austin progressives to fight back by sending a clear message: Austin does not and will never belong to the Republican Party of Texas.

Mike Martinez

Former Austin city councilman