Nelson Linder

Photo Credit: Mike McGraw | Daily Texan Staff

Attorney Steve Adler defeated Austin City Council member Mike Martinez in a runoff election Tuesday for Austin mayor.

Tuesday concluded Austin’s first election under the 10-ONE system, which reorganizes the City Council’s structure from six citywide elected officials to 10 single-member districts. 

Both citing transportation and affordability as the city's main issues, Adler and Martinez led an eight-man race for mayor in the general election to advance to the runoff. At his election watch party, Adler said his election to the mayor’s office means progress is possible, but there is a lot of work ahead.

“This election does not deliver the new way forward; this election only gives us the opportunity to deliver the new way forward,” Adler said. “There is much work to do to deliver the new way forward and we are ready to begin today.”

Adler said opportunity is what makes Austin special, and he intends to protect that aspect.

“The Austin we celebrate is one where everybody is good enough and nobody is too good,” Adler said. “We celebrate a city where it doesn’t make any difference what your last name is. Whether as a young musician, or a tech entrepreneur, a dishwasher, an executive, an academic or a longtime resident on a fixed income, we deserve and expect to find opportunity in Austin.”

After early voting totals showed Adler leading Martinez by 40 percentage points, Martinez conceded the election early in the night. Addressing his supporters, Martinez said he would continue to support the city outside of elected office.

“The sun will come up tomorrow, and we are still Austin freaking Texas,” Martinez said. “I’m not going anywhere. I love this city, and I called Steve [Adler] and told him I am 100 percent committed to supporting him and his vision for Austin.”

In citing his accomplishments during his eight years on the City Council, Martinez listed his work with Capital Metro and supporting the city’s move to 10-ONE.

“Those districts have chosen who they want to represent them going forward. That was the whole premise behind single-member districts,” Martinez said. “I believe we’re going to have one of the best City Councils we’ve ever had.”

At Adler's party, actress Beth Broderick said Adler would be a positive force behind the change in Austin.

“I really feel that Austin is at a crossroads and that we have to make a lot of decisions about what kind of city we want to be moving forward, and that means smart growth — that means bringing a lot of disparate coalitions together to get things done,” Broderick said. “I really had an instinct from the minute I sat down with Steve that this was a guy who had the executive experience to know how to do that.”

NAACP Austin President Nelson Linder said Adler brings new leadership to the mayor’s office in a time when it is greatly needed.

“I think he’s part of the spirit of 10-ONE; I think he’s got a vision; he’s going to be inclusive, and we need new leadership,” Linder said. “I think the times demand new leadership with a firm vision, and he’s interpolated that in every aspect I’ve seen.”

With Martinez’s defeat, Kathie Tovo will be the only returning member on the next City Council. Tovo won the District 9 seat on the City Council after fellow City Council member Chris Riley dropped out of a runoff election between the two. As Delia Garza of District 2 and Ann Kitchen of District 5 were the only candidates to win their district races outright in the general election, seven other City Council races were decided in runoff elections Tuesday.

Austin city election runoff results

Mayor

  • ​Steve Adler — 67 percent
  • Mike Martinez  33 percent

District 1

  • Ora Houston — 74 percent
  • DeWayne Lofton — 26 percent

District 3

  • Sabino "Pio" Renteria — 60 percent
  • Susana R. Almanza — 40 percent

District 4

  • Gregorio "Greg" Casar — 65 percent
  • Laura Pressley — 35 percent

District 6

  • Don Zimmerman — 52 percent
  • James "Jimmy" Flannigan — 48 percent

District 7

  • Leslie Pool — 66 percent
  • J.E. "Jeb" Boyt — 34 percent

District 8

  • Ellen Troxclair — 50.2 percent
  • Ed Scruggs — 49.8 percent

District 10

  • Sheri Gallo — 55 percent
  • Mandy Dealey — 45 percent

Additional repoting by Jacob Kerr.

The Texas Relays started as a small, regional competition for white males, but has grown into one of the nation’s most important
track-and-field meets.

Every April, the Texas Relays bring more than 3,000 athletes to Austin from high schools, universities and the professional ranks to compete at Mike A. Myers stadium on campus. It all begins today and continues through Saturday.

According to the visitors bureau website, the Texas Relays bring in 40,000 visitors every year and contributes an estimated $8 million annually to the local economy.

“It is an incredible legacy event and we are happy to have it here,” said Beth Pratt, a spokeswoman for the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The hotels plan for it, the city plans for it, and we are looking forward to welcoming visitors back.”

Clyde Littlefield, a former UT basketball and football player and track star, created the event in 1925. Littlefield coached track at UT from 1920 to 1961 and won 25 Southwest Conference Championships during his 40-year career. He was also on the Texas Relays committee for 30 years.

Two years ago, the African-American community criticized the city’s response to the relays, including closing parts of Interstate Highway 35. The city also did not provide extra police officers during the relays, which prompted store owners in Highland Mall to close early that weekend.

Jerome Williams, a former UT advertising professor, said the small number of African-Americans in Austin makes the influx of black visitors appear larger. Blacks make up 8.1 percent of the city’s population, according to the most recent census data.

In the 1960s, Williams, who now teaches at Rutgers University, competed in the Penn Relays, a similar event in Pennsylvania.

“I don’t know if the city has embraced the Texas Relays like Philadelphia has the Penn Relays,” Williams said. “I think what happened in Austin wouldn’t have happened in Philadelphia because the community and university worked together to embrace the event and make it an opportunity to bring in people from many different areas and make them a part of this atmosphere. I never got that feeling with Austin.”

The University of Pennsylvania, which has hosted the Penn Relays since 1895, has fostered a strong history of community involvement, Williams said.

Nelson Linder, president of the Austin NAACP chapter, said during the 20 years he has lived in Austin, the city’s approach to the Texas Relays has been tainted.

“I think most of the community of Austin embraces this event, I think people have enjoyed it,” he said. “From a cultural standpoint, because of the large number of African-Americans, there is a hostile environment. I think there is some hostility out there, but I think it is a small population.”

After 2009, the Austin City Council passed a resolution intended to reflect the community’s interest in diversity and equality. Since then, Linder said the city’s attitude toward the event has improved.

“The biggest thing is the police department is involved and there has been better communication,” Linder said. “In 2009, there was a lack of communication and now it is clear that we want to provide security and handle it from a strategic standpoint. They understand what we want — accommodation and not overreaction.”

UT women’s track and field head coach Beverly Kearney hosts the annual Minority Mentorship Symposium. She has brought high-profile African-American speakers to campus, including athletes such as Vince Young and Keyshawn Jackson and Morace Landy, executive vice president of Atlantic Records.

Additionally, Saturday there is an all-day music festival at Auditorium Shores and the local NAACP chapter will be hosting a parade.

“It needs to be more of a cultural event, and it has been because you have other music and things going on,” Linder said. “One of the goals is to help people do other things then just go to the mall. We have people going different places now, seeing other parts of the city.”

For almost 40 years, all of the competitors at the Texas Relays were white males. Blacks could not compete in the events until 1962 and were first invited only if they attended all-black schools.

“I think the city, from a leadership standpoint, is committed to making sure there is proper support,” Linder said.


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