A collection of mayors old and new congregated at City Hall today to show their support for the passage of Proposition 1. With early voting concluding at day’s end and the general election a mere four days away, the group hoped to leave a lasting impression on voters that will lead to the Proposition's passage.
Proposition 1 is a bond proposal that if passed would allocate $90 million to 45 mobility projects across the city.
Mayor Leffingwell's opening comments focused on Austin/Round Rock area’s rapid growth, saying that the population is projected to hit 1.5 million by 2040. Democratic State Sen. Kirk Watson (Austin mayor from 1997- 2001) followed Leffingwell and commented on the bond’s opportune timing as construction costs are down due to the recession. Each mayor followed, as The Austin Chronicle reports:
Gus Garcia(2001-2003) hit on the process, calling it “perhaps the most transparent bond process the city’s ever had.” Other exes spoke briefly, and were somewhat more measured. Bruce Todd (1991-1997) applauded the multi-modal funding. Lee Cooke (1988-1991) said “some of us would have liked to have seen it broken out” into separate packages, but cited his administration’s vote on the convention center – occurring in another recession, in the late 1980s – as an example of the opportunities economic downturns can contain. Finishing up were Frank Cooksey (1985-1988), and Ron Mullen (1983-1985), noting of the opposition “it’s a lot easier to be critical than correct.”
Supporters of the bill think the funds will be allocated in a way that have Austin’s best interest at heart. As Mark Gardner, an executive in town, told Associated Content:
"Prop 1 is one that I'll be voting for. I really think that we have to stop taking a "roads-only" approach to trying to decrease congestion. It's balanced and offers funds for alternative transportation modes. If we want to relieve congestion in the town, then we have to quit doing the same things we've been doing before. More roads only mean more room for more cars. We have to make it easier for people to find other ways to get around town."
Opponents of the bill think not enough of the bond issue’s money will go to roads and city sidewalks and claim a lack of transparency in the wording of the Proposition. As former Mayor Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who was not present at the City Hall meeting, told KXAN:
“It is disingenuous political rhetoric to say that this bond proposition is to get Austin moving."
Former Mayor Will Wynn (2003- 2009) was also not present but was scheduled to appear. Leffingwell said that Wynn was in support of the bill as well.
Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez responded to similar criticisms of the bill on his Facebook page:
Those who are opposed to this really need to be exposed for who they are....cage rattlers who are the same folks who heavily opposed both rail votes and will only support roads...even to the point of toll roads everywhere!
The bonds would be paid for by Austinites' property taxes.