The Austin Chronicle

Four for Mayor

Early campaign features a lawyer, a Council member, a rancher, and a mechanic

By Michael King, May 30, 2014, News

And then there were four – so far.

It's still very early in the November municipal election campaign – formal filing for City Council races doesn't begin until July 21 – but many of the new 10-1 district candidates are holding formal and informal kickoffs, and dozens of potential candidates have filed campaign treasurer designations and begun soliciting volunteers and funding (the money kickoff was May 8).

And in the still-unofficial mayoral race, four candidates have filed their CTDs and begun campaigning: eminent domain attorney Steve Adler, incumbent Council Member Mike Martinez, rancher/musician Todd Phelps, and Air Force veteran and aircraft mechanic Randall Stephens. More will possibly join the race in the next couple of months; Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole has completed her "House Party Listening Tour," filed a CTD, and assembled a basic campaign team – but at this writing, has not yet formally declared her candidacy. (She appears poised to do so Saturday, May 31. We'll catch up with her.) Then again, between now and November, some may decide the game isn't worth the candle.

This week, the Chronicle is providing an introduction to the four declared candidates, primarily through their own words. We asked about the candidates' backgrounds and occupations, their political experience, and about specific issues facing Austin – with the intent of providing readers with a portrait of the candidates' respective personalities, what they consider the most important issues, and their particular approaches to solving city problems.

Thus far, Adler has emphasized his background as a scholarship student, his pro bono legal work, and legislative and nonprofit experience. Martinez points to his working-class roots and Austin firefighter background, and his direct Council experience addressing the city's problems. Musician Phelps emphasizes his business/rancher experience, and in his early campaign has focused on Austin's traffic problem – and ridesharing as a specific solution. Finally, aviation mechanic and businessman Stephens has forsworn campaign bundling and pointed to his experience as an "idea guy" and problem-solver.

Between now and November, we'll have much more to say on the campaign and the candidates; this week, they present themselves. Readers may wonder if our relative emphases in the print edition reflect an editorial judgment of the candidates' relative qualifications, experience, and knowledge of the job requirements to be mayor of Austin.

The answer is yes.

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