"We are being asked to join y'all tonight, because we're history." That was Council Member Daryl Slusher's wry opening to his remarks last Friday, May 13, at the annual meeting of the Austin History Center Association. Slusher and Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman were speaking to the group about "Leaving a Legacy," since they are stepping down when their terms end in June, after a combined 21 years in office. At the invitation of the AHC, Slusher and Goodman are sorting through their papers to determine what they might add to the center's archives.
Friday night's transfer was largely ceremonial, although Slusher did display a 1996 Statesman election edition with a particularly unflattering photograph of the new Council member, adding, "The Statesman has always underestimated the breadth and depth of what we were about." He went on to describe the "coalition of progressive and minority voters" that came together to elect members like Goodman and himself in the mid-Nineties, a coalition that consciously emphasized both economic development and environmental protection. He laughed as he pointed out the photograph, "A lot of people were really worried about how I was going to behave."
Goodman marveled at how quickly her 12 years on Council have passed, and "how extraordinary the preceding decade has been." She said the "wisdom of the day" had been, "'You can't fight city hall.' Well, yes, you can," she continued, "if you become city hall." She recalled her days as one of the founders of the activist group SANE Save Austin's Neighborhoods and Environment working on a broad range of issues, and of which she says now, "Part of our legacy was to help keep all that alive." Goodman said that the continuing burden for Austinites has been to work on our local issues while also defending against outside forces like legislative interference. "This is an exciting city it has always been a vital city. It has never been weird."
Both Council members recounted particular city accomplishments of the last decade, and Goodman concluded, "One of the most important things I ever did was pulling together a resolution in opposition to the [federal] PATRIOT Act." She dismissed criticisms that such a national resolution was not city business. "If I can't speak up for the rights of American citizens, and for the rights of citizens everywhere," she said, "then I don't belong in office."