Mayor Steve Adler launched his re-election campaign Sunday afternoon less than a week after former Councilwoman Laura Morrison announced she was running against him.
Hundreds gathered at the dance hall Austin Saengerrunde to celebrate the start of Adler’s second campaign for mayor.
During his speech, Adler asked for support from attendees so he could continue defending Austin from state and national leaders who he said were targeting Austin with the goal of moving the city backward rather than helping it move forward.
“We’ve got work to do,” Adler said. “We can’t let folks get in our way. There are some politicians who work a couple blocks from here who are trying to do just that. Despite how well we’re doing, they want to tell us how to run our city.”
Recognizing his status as an American, Texan and Austinite, Adler said his loyalties ultimately lie with Austin — his home of almost 40 years — and “don’t anybody mess with my city.”
Controversial issues such as Senate Bill 4, the “sanctuary cities” bill, and Senate Bill 6, the so-called “bathroom bill” are intended to create divisions and foster fear among everyday people, Adler said. More so, Adler said these bills strike at some of Austin’s core ideals: inclusion and acceptance.
“Spreading and using fear to gain a political advantage is not the Austin way,” Adler said. “Being a welcoming city, keeping all of our neighbors safe, establishing trust — that’s the Austin way.”
Charlie Bonner, a Plan II and government junior, attended the campaign event and said he found Adler’s desire to defend Austin from more powerful political leaders inspiring.
“(Adler) does a better job than anyone of describing what makes Austin special, and is willing to fight for those things,” Bonner said. “We have this aggressive force trying to change Austin, and it’s reassuring to have a leader that’s not going to let those things happen.”
Morrison, currently Adler’s only competitor for the mayor’s office, served on the Council from 2008 to 2014, and many encouraged her to run for mayor in 2014, but she chose not to. She has not decided on an official launch date yet for her campaign, according to spokespeople.
Recently, Morrison has criticized parts of CodeNext, the city’s wide-reaching plan to revamp the land development code, and the way the city handled the search for a new city manager, which was shrouded in secrecy. Adler however has hailed CodeNext as a new way forward for the city and said Sunday that he welcomes the debate that has come with its development.
“I hear from anxious Austinites from every corner of town, from every income level and across every walk of life,” Morrison said in a news release on Jan. 8. “All of them are worried about Austin’s direction. It’s time for a leader whose priority is the people who live here now.”
This will be Morrison’s first time running under the city’s new 10-1 system, which created 10 separate City Council districts for Council members to run for rather than the at-large system Austin had until 2014.
When Morrison was on the Council, the city also held its elections in May, separate from state and national elections. Now, the elections are held at the same time as the November midterm elections, creating the potential for the city to draw a larger portion of the electorate than would traditionally show up for the spring’s local elections.