My Record, My Results, and My Re-Election Campaign

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Greetings, Burnt Orange Report readers!

I know you've all been busy watching the ongoing Texas Legislative session, paying attention to what's going on in Washington, and thinking about how we will be impacted. I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the ongoing City Council elections here in Austin, though, which will also have an impact on our lives (though hopefully for the better!). I was glad to see Michael Hurta's post drawing attention to the ongoing races and wanted to come on BOR to talk with you about my re-election campaign.

It's been an exciting first term, and it's been an honor to serve the city I love so much. I am proud to run an office that is accessible and responsive to citizens citywide. And while I know it isn't possible to agree with every person on all the issues, it is possible to have thoughtful debate and make decisions that are driven by fairness and common sense. My record reflects that approach, and I'm glad to share some highlights from my first term with you here.

  • Prioritizing Reliable City Services: I protected core services and expanded public safety personnel even in tough budget cycles;  improved social service contracts to support our most vulnerable neighbors; and advocated successfully for improved parks maintenance citywide.

  • Helping Grow Our Economy: I helped bring good jobs to Austin and expand local businesses; increased City support for small, minority, and women-owned businesses; prevented excessive regulation of mobile food vendors; and helped create a City music office to support Austin's music industry and improve issues between venues and neighborhoods.
  • Protecting Our Natural Resources: I set aggressive renewable energy goals while capping utility rate increases; helped launch the Pecan Street Project to drive smart grid technology and clean energy research; supported long-term water treatment capacity while pushing for tougher water conservation goals; prevented a proposed project in the Barton Springs Recharge Zone; and helped increase funding available for tree planting and parkland conservation.

This is everybody's Austin. My office is always ready to work to help citizens from across our City. Whether you're new to town or a long-time activist, I'll listen, get the facts, and use common sense to solve our problems.

In a second term, my priorities will continue to be providing core city services that make our neighborhoods safer and cleaner, and running an office that is responsive to solving problems at City Hall for citizens citywide.  

But you don't have to take my word for it — here's a video featuring just some of the folks who've contacted my office seeking help, and their experiences.

I'm proud of my record, and proud of the work I've done in my first term. In my re-election campaign, I'm honored to have been endorsed by 22 diverse community organizations, including the Central Labor Council, Austin Police, Firefighters, and EMS Associations, Austin Progressive Coalition, Capital Area Asian American Democrats, Capital City Young Democrats, Central Austin Democrats, Circle C Area Democrats, Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association, League of Bicycling Voters, North By Northwest Democrats. St. Edwards Democrats, Stonewall Democrats, University Democrats, The Victory Fund, and the West Austin Democrats. I hope to gain all of your support, and keep working hard in a second term.

Before you vote, please take some time to visit my campaign website to learn more about my background, to read my answers to the many questionnaires from candidate forums, and to see my broad base of support from over 800 individuals. And if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact my campaign!  


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  1. Yes!
    The large UT community is also blessed to have a council member who has a strong relationship with the institution…  This is why the University Democrats did not think twice in endorsing her!

  2. Important to notice
    The narrative being spread around the internet is that Shade is somehow in the pocket of developers and Tovo is “for the little guy”. That, of course, is nonsense, as I explore here:


    The ANC is all about the old money – trying to turn central Austin into what I hear Highland Park is in Dallas (gated suburb in the middle of the city). Any neighborhood association is fundamentally a conservative organization by nature – but here in Austin, where it is dominated by the most expensive neighborhoods to live in – and where the leaders of those NAs are disproportionately the idle rich, it's even less representative.

    If you want to make sure nobody else moves into the urban core, Kathie is your candidate. We'll sprawl all to hell even more than we do now, and the air and water will get even worse than they already are/will, but you won't have to look at icky apartments on major arterials while you're driving from your Old Enfield home into downtown.

    I wish somebody as good as Randi Shade was running against Laura Morrison. She's likely untouchable, but in this race, we can at least prevent the ANC from getting TWO rubber stamps on the city council.

    • Hey, Rich Guy
      I don't have any desire to wade into the Place 3 race here, but what you're saying about neighborhood associations and the ANC isn't just wrong, it is a plain lie.

      In fact, I have the numbers to prove it:

      Let's compare Mike Dahmus' wealth to that of the top six officers in the Austin Neighborhoods Council:

      (All Numbers from TCAD using latest appraisal values, 2010 values if 2011 not available)

      Mike Dahmus owns $552,000 in property in Travis County.

      Steven Aleman, President of the ANC, owns $245,000.

      Lou O'Hanlon, VP of ANC, owns $474,000.

      Joyce Basciano, VP of ANC, owns $335,000.

      Lisa Harris, VP of ANC, owns $350,000.

      Mary Eichner, Treasurer of ANC, owns $230,000.

      Mark Boyden, Communications Director of ANC, owns $201,000.

      Wow, looks like a bunch of rich elitists to me.

      You say “it is dominated by the most expensive neighborhoods” – wrong.

      You say “the leaders of those NAs are disproportionately the idle rich” – wrong.

      These are incontrovertible facts. You can dog the ANC on whatever you want, but to portray them as a bunch of rich elitists is a farce.

      Disclosure: I'm Laura Morrison's campaign manager.

      • Neighborhoods
        Neighborhood activists get things done in Austin.  We help make Austin the great place it is.  We are at city hall fighting for you, as we do it all as a volunteer.  I have been at city hall at 2:30 AM for my neighborhood. We are not rich – believe me!  The most active neighorhoods are those that are middle class with working folks living there.  And, I lived in Dallas, and you can drive through Highland Park on any street you want, so it's not gated.  We neighborhood folks work to keep the quality of life friendly, not for developers that drag their sack through Austin, do not live here, build, and leave.  If the consequences are bad, so be it!  Neighborhood folks are needed – if we were not here, you would not have such a good city. I'm just a volunteer that gives hours and hours of time for my neighborhood,

        • Conservative forces
          Neighborhood activists prevent things from getting done in Austin. You may think they are bad things, I obviously think they are good things, but they are things you are preventing, not things you are causing.

          And were it not for the developer of that condominium building in Clarksville built in the early 1980s, I'd never have been able to afford to live in central Austin. Thanks, unknown developer!

      • Awesome
        A chance to tell my story. Thanks, Jim! BTW, the valuation on my house right now is $0.00. Let me know if you can make that stick.

        In 1995, I moved here. By 1996, I was sure I wanted to live close to downtown. Although I worked in high-tech (still do!), houses close to downtown were way out of my price range (at the time, the smallest cottages in Clarksville were $200K.

        But wait! Here's an awesome 2 bedroom condominium unit for only $96K! I can barely scrape up enough money to make this happen (after the lender suddenly demanded 25% down). Score.

        Spent about ten years driving very little, walking everywhere, and, back then, since I was single and working close in, actually had a lot of time to be involved politically. Spent 5 years on the UTC; worked on the neighborhood plan (unlike the neighborhood association, the neighborhood plan team welcomed multifamily owners (and even renters) – I chaired the transportation committee).

        Years later, I'm married and we need to get a bigger place for our intended family. Only condos bigger than ours in the area were the luxury units – not an option. Luckily, timing was right and we were able to refinance the condo (take a bunch of money out) and just barely squeak in a small 3/2 over in NUNA (1250 square feet). A 3/2 we planned on, someday, adding a second floor on top of (and a garage apartment to help with property taxes).

        Within a couple of years over there, of course, Laura Morrison and friends ended both plans. McMansion means that lot is limited to 2400 square feet – meaning no full 2nd floor with any size garage apartment, which is moot since the neighborhood plan over THERE (unlike OWANA), decided to go the other direction and DE-densify (banning garage apartments on lots smaller than 7000 square feet).

        Through all of this I now work out in Westlake – meaning I'm nowhere close to the city council chambers, not even for a lunch visit, and now have 3 kids to take care of. So even though I'm likely above the median by now (our family income is just me – but we're still likely above the median), I'm certainly not idle even by the most generous definition. Note it took me until 8:00 the next morning to even see this comment.

        A couple of key things to note here:

        1. If the Laura Morrisons and Kathie Tovos of the 1970s had won a few more battles back then, I'd never have been able to make it into that condominium unit to begin with, and would have ended up either out of the area or in Anderson Mill or (shudder) Round Rock.

        2. It still took a lot of luck and some good timing to be able to squeak in to a single family home. One that we still had to convince ourselves was expandable to justify buying.

        3. I've had to work full-time this entire time – during some stretches I worked much closer in to town and/or had times I was working at home, and family obligations were less, so I could spend time showing up to things in person. But now I have family obligations and a real job – so the only way I have to influence the political process is by (a) voting and (b) e-mailing / posting, or as you and your ilk like to call it, “ranting from behind a computer screen”.

        I never claimed to be poor – or the little guy. Hint: neither are any of the people whose valuations you reported here. Not only are they above the median, they have time to spend at NA meetings, ANC meetings, and CC meetings – hence, idle. Big difference between me and your puppetmasters at the ANC, though, is that when I say I'm in favor of affordability and sustainability, the plans I support actually back up those words. Yours don't.

        10 minutes is all I can spare this morning from my real job, so apologies if any of this is unclear or could use some more editing.

        One last thing: Laura Morrison's property in Austin? $1.43 million.

      • Left out
        Realized I left one claim unaddressed – “dominated by the most expensive neighborhoods”. Morrison is from OWANA; Chimenti is from Travis Heights; Tovo is Bouldin (or Heritage, not sure which property she actually lives in these days). Current officers up there are unfindable for the most part. The two I found are still really central (i.e. most expensive by square foot).  

      • Profiles in Bad Logic…
        Your argument appears to be that because Mr. Dahmus is well-off, and at least some of the ANC board members might be less well-off than Mr. Dahmus, therefore, it follows that ANC board members are not well-off.  At an average appraised value of over 300K, the ANC board member pays about as much in property taxes as the median Austinite pays in rent.  Anyone living in a 300+K single-family home in Central Austin is considerably more fortunate than the vast majority of his/her neighbors.  

        There is a simple fact of life that all of us living in Austin need to deal with: 500,000 new people will be here by 2020.  What is Laura Morrison's plan to make room for all of those people?  What is the ANC's plan?  If you want to be taken seriously be voters, you ought to take seriously the charge that the ANC's policies reflect the narrow interests of the ANC membership at the expense of the rest of the city, and formulate a better response to that charge than what you offered here.  

  3. Rahm McDaniel on

    Randi is the kind of councilperson we need now
    Randi has consistently demonstrated a sober, thoughtful, low-key approach to governing. She puts policy ahead of politics (even at the risk of making politically difficult choices based on data and real-life consequences), and is bringing real discipline and strategic rigor along with  rock-solid public and private financial management experience to things like the budget.

    Austin is a complex place and the complexity includes but is not limited to Central Austin planning and zoning. with Randi I feel that we are in good hands with planning and zoning, yes, but also with the electric utility, transportation, parks, the environment, water, economic development, and at the risk of sounding self serving, solid waste.

    I'm a big fan (and public supporter) of Randi Shade. She's earned our support and I hope we return her to the council for another term.


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