The Candidates Propose
The League of Women Voters' voters' guide for the Nov. 6 election is available countywide and on the web at www.leaguewv.austin.tx.us. Candidates were asked to describe their qualifications and their positions on transportation, projects receiving city funds, sustainability issues ("living wage, affordable housing, health care access"), and safety concerns arising from underground petroleum pipelines (i.e., the Longhorn pipeline).
Ray "The Vet-- Blanchette says he supports affordable housing and health care, and that his "experience flying airplanes with 200,000 lbs. of fuel" and "involvement in [their] technology" assures him pipeline safety can be accomplished. David "Breadman-- Blakely lists among his qualifications "USAF Major, investment counselor, property manager, and dBASE programmer, as well as "married to the same woman for 59 years." He says he needs more information before committing himself on sustainability: "What have the experts recommended?"
Ex-Marine Jennifer Gale proposes to reduce traffic and eliminate the need for light rail (Bike Initiative), provide regular health care to low-income Austinites (Health Care Initiative), and create single-member districts with a 32-member City Council and a "power mayor" (Town and Village Initiative). Downtown fixture Leslie Cochran -- who lists as qualifications "work[s] well with people" and "[does] well convincing others to look at the whole picture" -- supports more buses and a living wage.
Of traffic problems, Allen Phillips writes, "The best way I can see is to build a hazardous materials loop around the city which would take care of getting the traffic moving and stop the problem of cars just sitting in one place which causes worse pollution than moving traffic." He supports city-hired inspectors to monitor the Longhorn pipeline, attracting businesses that stick around longer than "eight years," and checking "the books" on city projects monthly.
Former Council Member Gus Garcia supports the five-county transportation process, restoring Wednesday afternoon council work sessions, public-private solutions to the digital divide and crises in affordable housing and health care, and a city pipeline ordinance to increase state oversight and accountability. Greg Gordon, an "Ambassador" for the Chamber of Commerce and self-employed caterer, supports business diversity, road improvements, and a "zero-based budgeting process."
Former Council Member Eric Mitchell is represented by the same answer to all five questions posed by the League: "no response received to questionnaire." Last week, Mitchell declared his "vision" of city politics to be, "I would just like to see us as a community ... wake up, demand better, pay attention, and participate." Tuesday night, the League held its candidate forum on community access television to question the candidates -- all except Mitchell, who didn't show up.
At least he's consistent.