Austin City Council Election Profiles: Mayor

Austin Mayor Steve Adler says he's proud to be a part of the first 10-1 City Council.  His accomplishments include a $15/hr. minimum living wage, the most stringent fair chance hiring law in the south and "paid sick leave."  He wants to finish that work which includes re-scoping the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH) to be more of a triage center, a pathway to housing.

"We're going to be implementing the 2016 Mobility Bond.  Hopefully we'll be implementing Proposition A, $250 million for affordable housing.  We've just launched an 18-month conversation for high capacity transit which we need in this city.  We're going to be discussing a convention center downtown, an expansion that will give us the money to finally do something about the ARCH and the homelessness that we're experiencing, building on," Adler said.

Next up, musician Travis Duncan.  Duncan says his artistry has led him on a path of asking deep questions...like: What can be built with hemp?  And living paycheck to paycheck...why are we paying for things like electricity and water on a planet full of electricity and water?

"When you eliminate those bills, when people have the basic dignity, which I would call a universal resource access, then everybody can live their purpose.  Nobody has to work a job to survive.  All you have to do to have abundance is be a contributing member of the community, be a member of the tribe," Duncan said.

Laura Morrison might look familiar to you.  She was on the "at-large" city council from 2008 to 2014.  Morrison has a background in technology, math, public health and software systems.  She's concerned about where the city is headed and wants to put people first instead of special-interests.  She disagreed with the MLS deal that's bringing a soccer stadium to North Austin.  As for the possibility of Amazon coming to town...

"We have a lot of growth already and we need to work to manage that growth and accommodate it appropriately.  But to insert that artificial surge of 50,000 jobs over just a few years span will cause housing prices to go up even more than they are going up and that needs to be a transparent discussion and not under lock and key like it is now," Morrison said.

Alan Pease is also on the ballot for the mayoral race.  He hasn't committed to a time to be interviewed for our candidate profiles.

That brings us to Gustavo "Gus" Pena from East Austin.  The Marine Corps veteran ran for council in the '90s.  He's also a frequent speaker at City Hall.  Pena says in 2014, he phone-banked to help Adler get elected but now says the Mayor hasn't been truthful.  He doesn't agree with Adler's early claim that veteran homelessness in Austin is a thing of the past.  

"I told him, make it affordable for the people.  We have people struggling, single mom with children that are homeless.  Just go over there to Caritas or Salvation Army and you'll see still a lot of homeless and a lot of homeless veterans also," Pena said.  "Look at it now.  It's too expensive now.  People can't afford it.  3 families are living in one household or one apartment.  That's not good, that's not Austin.  Austin should be a vibrant city for everybody."

Todd Phelps has the endorsement of the Travis County GOP.  His background is in music, ranching and alternative energy.  Phelps ran for Mayor in 2014 and ended up endorsing Steve Adler which he says he regrets.  Phelps says the Mayor hasn't been a friend to the business community.  He wants to protect iconic Austin businesses from disappearing due to rising property taxes.  As for the council's occasional activism and antagonistic relationship with the legislature...

"Wasting your time as a City Council Member, when we're in a traffic and affordability crisis on issues that you do not have any influence over...when the people of Austin elected you to represent them so they can stay in Austin, so they can afford to live here, so they can get from A to B in less than an hour and a half.  Those are the issues I want to focus on.  I don't want to be trying to get national attention because of some political career that Adler may..I'm not going to be like Adler, he's running around trying to advance his political career and wasting our money and time," Phelps said.

Finally Alexander Strenger.  As a pedi-cab driver he's seen how bad the mobility problems are.  While some of Strenger's platform includes building a dome over Austin and replacing Austin Police Officers' guns with flamethrowers, Strenger does have some more conventional ideas like withdrawing the city's Amazon application and relocating the ARCH.  He's against the MLS deal.

"There's nothing funny about our affordability and traffic concerns," Strenger said. "Building a dome and giving flamethrowers to our police officers makes more sense than building a soccer stadium at McKalla Place, I stand by that statement."  

If you'd like to see the full interviews from the candidates, click here.