Place 2: Martinez in a Landslide
Easy sailing with 85% of the vote
Lee Leffingwell's wasn't the only victory celebration at Hill's Cafe on election night – incumbent Place 2 Council Member Mike Martinez celebrated an easy cruise to re-election with 85% of the vote. "It's affirming to have that kind of support from the city," said Martinez, adding that he's "looking forward to getting back to work." Yet it's also "affirmation that I'm not driving some personal agenda," an allusion to the Austin American-Statesman's persistent editorial attacks on him and Leffingwell as overly beholden to public safety unions at the expense of the city. "I don't know where the Statesman got that from. ... They may not necessarily have the pulse of the community they think they do." He also pointed to his overall vote total – at 43,630, the highest for any candidate, even unopposed Place 5 candidate Bill Spelman – as a rebuke of the daily's editorial sensibility.
Martinez did draw an opponent, Jose "Joe Q" Quintero, a longtime Eastside resident. While mostly a negligible presence on the campaign and forum trail, Quintero's candidacy represented the anger some Eastside residents feel with Martinez, or more generally, City Hall. It's been hard to suss out how much of that anger is warranted and how much arises from old grudges – Quintero's campaign website still expressed anger about Martinez's 2006 win over Eliza May. To address opponents' concerns, Martinez promised more of "exactly what I've been supporting": a switch to a hybrid single-member district council member system from Austin's current all at-large system. "I think you'll see a change in the voter turnout," he predicted. (Despite being council's staunchest single-member district advocate, he was attacked by Eastside newspaper La Prensa for opposing a Senate bill that would require Austin make the switch; as the bill would usurp local control, he's opposed.) And with Leffingwell – also a single-member districts proponent – in the mayor's office, it sounds like work could start again soon. "I think we can start a charter revision committee right away," Martinez said.
Introducing Leffingwell Saturday evening, Martinez called the new-look council "one of the best ... we've ever had in Austin, Texas." Whether or not he's formally named mayor pro tem – having joined in 2006, he and Sheryl Cole are council's most senior, and the largely ceremonial title could just as easily be hers – as Leffingwell's closest dais ally, Martinez will no doubt play a large part in the new team.