It's Your City Council!
Laura Pressley vs. Mike Martinez
Place 2: Fire and Rain
This is an unusual race in that novice candidate Pressley – best known for her anti-fluoride advocacy at City Council meetings – would normally be invisible against a popular incumbent. A few factors have given her some early traction, though. Some environmentalists object to Martinez's support of WTP4 and the Formula One agreement. The bus drivers and mechanics union, led by ATU 1091 President Jay Wyatt, has aggressively broken with Martinez over his actions as chairman of the Capital Metro board and has worked – with minimal success – to block endorsements (see "ATU vs. Martinez: 'Better a Dog' for Council"). And although he is broadly popular, especially among Hispanic voters, a handful of organizations (most loudly, El Concilio) have thrown support to Pressley for one reason or another. Martinez has emphasized his experience, his working-class and union background, and his record as a problem-solver.
Pressley holds a chemistry Ph.D. and is a former high tech engineer/manager who has credited the end of all her health problems to switching from Austin's fluoridated tap water. (Her company, Pure Rain, imports bottled rainwater from Oregon.) She's one of several candidates this cycle supported by the libertarian Texans for Accountable Government (she's on the TAG board), and her own support for presidential candidate Ron Paul has generated some opposition on the trail, particularly from Democratic clubs. (Pressley says she supports Paul because he's anti-war; Martinez counters, "Yes, he's anti-war – he's also anti-woman, anti-health care, anti-worker, anti-minority ...."). Pressley has emphasized affordability, traffic planning, and "transparency and accountability" in her campaign, but she hasn't set forth many specific policy proposals beyond cutting the budget and ending corporate incentives.
Basic Profile Twenty-three-year Austin resident; Ph.D. in chemistry (UT); 17 years in semiconductor industry (engineer/manager); small-business owner; served on boards of SafePlace and Women's Advocacy Project; current board member, Texans for Accountable Government
Major Issues Improving affordability (especially utility rates); city homestead exemption; transportation action; transparency and accountability
Major Endorsements Better Austin Today, Austin Neighborhoods Council, Texans for Accountable Government
Quote "I can provide a unique perspective and provide creative problem-solving skills from a technical and business standpoint that are not available to the council today."
Basic Profile First elected to City Council 2006, reelected 2009; 13 years as Austin firefighter and former president of Austin Firefighters Association; currently board chair, Capital Metro
Major Issues Managing growth while maintaining affordability; restoring confidence in city government; establishing multimodal transportation
Major Endorsements Austin Police Assn., Austin Firefighters Assn., Austin/Travis EMS Employee Assn., Travis County Sheriffs' Law Enforcement Assn., Austin Progressive Coalition, Clean Water Action, Central Austin Democrats, University Dems (UT), Network of Asian-American Organizations, Capital Area Asian American Dems, Capital Area Progressive Dems, Stonewall Dems, Austin Environmental Dems, Austin Tejano Democrats, West Austin Dems, South Austin Dems, League of Bicycling Voters, Black Austin Democrats
Quote "I believe Austin will be defined not by our successes but by the extent to which we have risen to our challenges – by the tough, roll-up-your-sleeves, often uncomfortable decisions we make each and every day."