Steve Adler

Photo Credit: Anthony Mireles | Daily Texan Staff

Ten teams gathered on Sunday at a downtown building to present their ideas on utilizing technology to increase progressive votes.

Participants created apps and websites this weekend at ATX Political Hackathon, the first officially partisan political hackathon in the nation. The hackathon was hosted at Civitas Learning and in partnership with the Texas Democratic Party.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler, who spoke at the event, said the hackathon represents an intersection between politics and the tech industry.

“Looking at the intersection of technology and elections is not only fascinating, but is crucial if we’re going to change what’s going on politically in our city and in our state and in our country,” Adler said.

The University Democrats participated at the hackathon and won second place. They created “Democats,” a game which rewards players with points for their political engagement in the real world, said Allie Runas, UDems officer and electrical and computer engineering junior.

“Our goal was to make something for young millennial voters who are not likely to be actively engaged in the political process and to find a way to make the political process more engaging,” Runas said.

Robbie Zuazua, electrical and computer engineering senior, participated at the hackathon with three other UT students and said the event is important because it allows people from tech backgrounds to care about political issues.

“A lot of tech people, they just don’t necessarily think about what they’re building, they just do it because it’s cool,” Zuazua said. “This gives you a lot of context and understanding into like things that you can build.”

Cliff Walker, campaign services and candidate recruitment director of the Texas Democratic Party, said the teams provided innovative solutions to existing civic engagement problems.

“I want people to look at these (political) challenges that we have with fresh eyes,” Walker said. “There are things I saw presented tonight that I’ve not seen actively being done in politics in the dozen years I’ve been involved.”

ATX Political Hackathon founder Daniel Webb said the event was not just a way to come up with solutions to problems from a technology side, but it was also a way to bring the community together.

“Hackathons are supposed to be competitive but … half the pitches we saw were referencing other hackathon projects to integrate with,” Webb said during the event. “That is community, that’s people coming together to try to solve problems.”

Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

The Austin Police Department has issued more than 800 citations related to the newly implemented “Don’t Block the Box” campaign, which started April 6.

The campaign, targeted at downtown Austin, aims to reduce traffic bottling — when cars stopped in the middle of an intersection block the rest of traffic flow, according to City Council member Ann Kitchen. 

Over the two-week period from April 6 to Friday, APD issued 653 moving violations and 153 non-moving violations as well as 90 warning citations.

“It is still on the evaluation stage, but there are reports, at least from the police department, that they are seeing some improvements from it in seeing people changing their behavior,” Kitchen, who is head of the city’s Mobility Committee, said. “[Drivers are] learning how to make sure they don’t end up in the middle of the intersection.” 

Mayor Steve Adler said he’s been watching the Don’t Block the Box campaign implementation from his office.

“I’ve been watching people get tickets from City Hall,” Adler said. 

Adler said “Don’t Block the Box” is only one tool in the City’s belt to combat Austin’s growing traffic congestion problem. City Manager Marc Ott released the Transportation Congestion Action Plan on March 27, an outline of solutions to traffic including short- and long-term fixes. 

“We’re limiting left turns in traffic, coordinating construction activity. We’re going to be synchronizing lights … in real time, [so] it will shift with the traffic,” Adler said. “Don’t Block the Box was one of 20 different initiatives we are trying.”

Kitchen said she thinks immediate solutions are critical to solving the City’s traffic problems.

“We grow so fast … that we dump a lot of additional traffic on existing roads and [are] not fast enough [at] adjusting to how those roads can handle the traffic,” Kitchen said. “With these kinds of actions, you get more bang for your buck because you can do them faster and less costly. They are infrastructure things we need to do right away.”

DJ Roberts, a radio-television-film and history sophomore, said he tends to disregard traffic infractions such as blocking intersections when he is in a hurry.

“I think solutions dealing with infrastructure would be far more effective than those shifting the mentality of Austin drivers,” Roberts said. “While getting people to stay out of ‘the box’ might help on a smaller scale, Austin’s traffic problem is the result of an infrastructure not built for the City’s growing problem.”

Mobility affects many other issues, such as cost of living, so Kitchen said short-term solutions are not enough to fix Austin’s traffic problem. 

“It is a huge issue all over the city and also a linchpin issue,” Kitchen said. “If we can’t get around — because of transportation, and we’re stuck in traffic — then we can’t get to jobs and school and it impacts where we can live. It’s a linchpin issue that way. It affects a lot of other things.”

Mayor Steve Adler speaks Monday night as part of the first State of the City event at the Austin Independent School District Performing Arts Center.
Photo Credit: Michael Baez | Daily Texan Staff

Steve Adler said at his first State of the City address Monday that Austin has snagged number one spots in three lists: best cities for tech industry, best cities for wildlife and the most economically segregated cities.

“Those three ‘number one’ rankings tell the state of the city,” Adler said. “We have a great economy. Our values are strong, and we need to protect them. And we have inequalities we need to address and fix.”

The City must address economic inequalities at the root of the problem, and people of all income levels must have the same access to employment, education and job training, Adler said.

Valentina Tovar, a senior at Akins High School, spoke about her ideal Austin at the State of the City event. She said all teens should have the same educational opportunities, regardless of their zip code.

“Every child who lives in Austin deserves a superior education from the day they enter kindergarten to the day they receive their diploma,” Tovar said.

Adler hit his top issues, mobility and affordability, in his hour-long address. Austin’s traffic problem is growing and needs a regional-wide solution,  Adler said.

“We simply cannot pave our way out of congestion,” Adler said. “We have to get more cars off the road. So we’re going to adopt staggered work hours and telecommuting.”

The increasing problem of housing affordability is also a priority, Adler said.

“We must make housing affordable for families at all income levels and stages of life,” Adler said. “A healthy community supports all income levels, so we have to look beyond the median income level. Neighborhoods with affordable housing are rapidly gentrified, and costs are rising all around the city.”

In order to meet the existing and growing need for affordable housing, Austin needs to construct 100,000 new houses by 2025 and save another 35,000 units from gentrification, Adler said.

He also voiced concern for Austin’s quickly growing population and the city’s inability to keep up with the growth.

Austin is the 11th largest city in the United States, with 885,000 people living in Austin and an additional two million living in the metropolitan area, Adler said. In 25 years, he added, those numbers will almost double.

“Our growth rate is highest in the country by a wide margin,” Adler said. “The ironic twist: the more successful we are at preserving what makes us special, the more people will come.”

Adler gave his address at the AISD Performing Arts Center to 800 people. Unlike his predecessors, such as former Mayor Lee Leffingwell, who gave their speeches in venues such as hotel ballrooms and City Hall, Adler decided to make the annual speech more of an event.

Slam poet Christopher Michael, who opened the evening, touched on the inherent inequality of Austin in performance.

“Texas I-35 is the spine that bridges the north to the south, brings people, commerce, puts food in our mouth and in Austin; it separates east from west, UT from HT,” Michael said. “It’s the great gulf between ‘got’ and ‘lack.’ … We be the bat hiding from the light of day pretending we don’t see the problem. Instead of hiding under bridges, let’s build more.”

Mayor Steve Adler speaks at a press conference Monday after meeting with eight other Texas mayors. The mayors met at the Headliner’s club to discuss SB 182 and HB 365, both of which place caps on the property taxes that Texas homeowners pay.
Photo Credit: Carlo Nasisse | Daily Texan Staff

Mayor Steve Adler and eight other Texas mayors met with representatives of the state legislature Monday to discuss property tax revenue caps across Texas.

Mayors from Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, El Paso, Corpus Christi, Arlington and Plano lined up at the Headliner’s Club to voice their concern about SB 182 and HB 365. Both bills place caps on the property taxes Texas homeowners pay. 

Adler said property tax caps from the state legislature take away city governments’ ability to decide where to collect revenue, how much to collect, obliterating the control of local governments over their communities.

“It’s the ordinances that a local city adopts that reflects its values [and] is something we hope will be honored by the rest of the state,” Adler said.

The real issue of SB 182 and HB 365 is self-determination, according to Adler.

“We really only have a few ways to raise revenue in our local economy — property taxes, sales tax and fees,” Adler said. “If we are limited or capped in one area, it logically follows that we have to raise it in another area. Students could feel this pinch, even if they are not property owners.”

Adler also said the property tax caps could extend into other areas of local control that may need specific protections, such as Barton Springs Pool. 

“This uniqueness of how we live in Austin should be determined at the local level,” Adler said. “Students come to UT not just for the education, but to enjoy this Austin lifestyle. The environment and creative culture are very valuable to us here, and we need to be able to govern these things in our own way.”

Corpus Christi Mayor Nelda Martinez said the state legislature needs to understand that the strong economic growth of the state comes from local government managing their cities the way they choose.

“What we need to do is make sure our hands are not tied,” Martinez said. “We know our cities, and we know our legislators have been able to experience the wonderful Texas growth that we’ve had, so we want to be able to collaborate and work in that manner. But revenue caps is not the answer. It would set us back.”

Martinez said different cities prioritize different items on their budgets. She said the Texas legislature may not take issues such as emergency preparedness into consideration.

“[In] every city in the state of Texas, you have unique services, unique reactions, also depending if you live on the gulf coast,” Martinez said. “What happens when you go through the hurricane season, and you have to respond to emergency preparedness as well? Because we’re all unique, we know how to deal with budgets that are unique to our citizens.” 

El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser also stressed the main idea of the day: local control. 

“We came to kind of work together … to talk about how we can continue to unite,” Leeser said. “We talk together and have the same voice but understand every city has a unique need and we want to make sure we continue to have the ability to represent the people that elected us.”

This year, Austin City Council will have public hearings to promote public participation in local government, a priority of Mayor Steve Adler. The first public hearing Thursday will discuss how the Council will govern under the 10-ONE system.

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Members of the Austin City Council are considering making structural changes to the Council’s decision-making process and will discuss the proposed changes at a public hearing Thursday. 

The Council, which began its term Jan. 6, will discuss moving government hearings to committees before making decisions at general, public meetings.

City Council member Kathie Tovo, the only City Council member who has served previous terms, said restructuring a new decision making process is among council’s top priorities. Tovo said not all hearings would be restricted to committee meetings.

“We are soliciting feedback from the public,” Tovo said. “Most hearings will be moved to committees, but some will still have to be heard in front of the Council, such as zoning and annexation. There are [topics] required by city ordinance, and some by state law, to be heard in front of Council.” 

Mayor Steve Adler said he thinks the restructuring will make public engagement more meaningful.

“Every district representative is chairing a citywide committee and needs to develop a citywide constituency,” Adler said. “Traffic, congestion and affordability are citywide issues. Since those are most pressing, we’ve come out of the box real quickly to restructure the way we do government.”

Adler said he did not realize how much the public wants to participate in local government before his election.

“One of the real takeaways was the sheer number of people that were calling offices when we weren’t there,” Adler said. “It was overwhelming — the number of people who want to talk with one and all of the City Council members.”

The City Council will hold a public discussion about moving hearings to committees before coming to an ultimate decision at a general Council meeting.

City Council member Ann Kitchen said she appreciated how the City Council united to tackle its first initiative.

“I’m excited that we were able to do that unanimously,” Kitchen said. “We learned at orientation ways we can continue to work together for the things that we all [agree upon]. I think everybody is working on the same page. There are some differences across the districts in terms of how we fix things, but we’re all in agreement [on this].”

Last week, the new City Council completed a three-day orientation. Tovo said she enjoyed the opportunity to get to know the other City Council members. 

“I had an opportunity to meet with all Council members and do introductions — to hear their ideas and share mine,” Tovo said. 

Adler said orientation is meant to be informative, but it’s also a chance for new members to discuss ideas.

“The session on open meetings generated a lot of conversation,” Adler said. “We have to find the right balance in that area. A lot of it is nuts and bolts — not romantic or sexy stuff, but important stuff.”

City Council member Ora Houston said the logistics of City operations are the most challenging to learn.

“There’s so much to learn, and now I can see how the City operates behind the curtain,” Houston said.

Mayor Steve Adler gets sworn in by Municipal Judge Sherry Statman at Austin City Hall on Tuesday evening. City council members were also sworn in at the event which celebrated the 10-1 system of geographic representation with one council member per district. 

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Austin’s newly elected mayor and council members took their oaths of office Tuesday during an inauguration ceremony held at City Hall, becoming Austin’s first city council elected under the new single-member district system.  

The system, also known as 10-1, reorganized the city council’s structure from six city-wide seats to 10 single-member geographic districts.

During the ceremony, council members drew from a bag of black and white marbles to determine their term limits so that future council member elections will occur on a staggered basis. Delia Garza of District 3, Gregorio Casar or District 4, Don Zimmerman of District 6, Leslie Pool of District 7 and Sheri Gallo of District 10 drew white marbles and will serve 2-year terms. The remaining five members will serve 4-year terms.

The members then selected a new Mayor Pro Tem, District 9’s Kathie Tovo, with a 10-1 vote.

Mayor Steve Adler said the new council will operate more transparently and make it easier for the public to be involved. In the past, debates around especially contentious issues, like a ban on so-called "stealth dorms," would stretch meetings past midnight.

“You won't have to be at City Council at 3 a.m.,” Adler said.

With seven female councilmembers and three Hispanic members, the new council represents the cultural, geographic, economic and political diversity of the city, according the Adler.

“I’m hoping that you see yourself on this dias, and if you don’t, rest assured that we’re going to make sure that you’re sitting at the table with us together as we shape our city’s future,” Adler said.

The council will meet Thursday to address city administration and governance. Adler said the council will work to promote affordability and better-paying jobs.

“We can’t let the story of Austin be a tale of two cities,” Adler said. “We are losing people and whole communities, and with that, we are losing our city’s soul.”

Photo courtesy of Mike Martinez for Mayor

In October, this editorial board selected Sheryl Cole — a City Council member and the mayor pro tem — as our choice to be the next mayor of Austin. In doing so, we lauded her breadth of experience at City Hall and her common sense approach to the major issues facing students and other disadvantaged groups. For those same reasons, we endorse Council member Mike Martinez over Steve Adler in the runoff election for mayor that will be held on Dec. 16 and for which early voting begins Monday.

Adler, a lawyer and longtime activist within Democratic politics, has good intentions, but he lacks the institutional knowledge that we believe the city desperately needs at this time. Contrary to what many of his backers may claim, this city does not need an “outsider” who will shake up municipal politics, so to speak. Rather, it needs a steady hand to manage the consistent growth that Austin has faced in recent years, as well as a leader who simultaneously implements bold plans to solve the city’s growing problems in transportation and affordability, especially for students.

Both Adler and Martinez supported Proposition 1, the unsuccessful urban rail measure that we had previously opined against. However, only Martinez retains a logical approach to this issue post-Prop. 1, both respecting the voters’ wishes and diligently working to find ways to mitigate congestion beyond road expansion. Martinez, chairman of the Capital Metro board, focuses on innovative bus expansion, hoping to diversify routes, facilitate east to west corridors and even play around with novel suggestions such as a pilot program eliminating bus fares. Adler, outside of a cursory mention of buses in our conversation, looks content to propose the quixotic, such as an increased commitment to telecommuting.

However, perhaps most importantly, Martinez would dedicate himself to the plight faced by the 55 percent of Austinites who rent, including most students. He has suggested possibly using some of the recent affordable housing bonds to build a housing complex for low-income students, hoping to expand existing regulations that ensure some affordable housing units in new construction.

The cornerstone of Adler’s plan, meanwhile, is an ambitious expansion of the homestead tax exemption, which he would fund predominantly with the city’s surplus and possibly “shifting the tax burden.” While he has passionately defended this plan as a rather urgent method of tax relief, applying to far more than just millionaires, Adler freely admits his proposal could squander the city’s surplus on non-renters (read: non-students) and non-renters alone. In fact, he even conceded that it could nominally raise rent prices for most. When asked about future years without surpluses to fund the exemption, Adler obfuscated his response using platitudes such as growth and expansion. 

In the next three years, the mayor will have to face a plethora of complex issues and, with the new 10-district City Council, will be in a unique position to push through an array of proposals to change the city in meaningful ways. The city can take a chance on an untested, inexperienced newcomer, who will prioritize savings for the most well-off people in the community. Alternatively, it can look toward someone with eight years of experience around every nook and cranny of municipal politics, who will tirelessly fight for the least represented among us, most notably students and other young people. Vote for Martinez for a more student-friendly Austin.

Steve Adler will face Austin City Council member Mike Martinez in the runoff election for mayor on Dec. 16. Early voting begins Dec. 1.

Photo Credit: Michael Baez | Daily Texan Staff

Mayoral candidate Steve Adler sat down with The Daily Texan to discuss his policy plans and opinions should he be elected. Adler faces off against Austin City Council member Mike Martinez in the runoff for Austin mayor Dec. 16. Early voting for the runoff election begins Dec. 1. This interview is the second of two interviews with the mayoral candidates.

The Daily Texan: What are some student issues that concern you?

Steve Adler: There are issues with respect to safety and public safety in West Campus: infrastructure, streetlights and sidewalks. There are general affordability issues that students have to deal with — rents and utility bills. There are issues associated with wanting to stay here after graduating. There are sound ordinance issues, which plays into a larger urban planning issue that the city is dealing with. And transportation issues, as it gets more expensive to live around the University.

 

DT: Proposition 1 failed and urban rail is on hold for now. Do you think a different route would have passed at the ballot box?

SA: My personal belief is you should pick a route to sustain where people are, because people will vote for something that improves their lives.

My sense is part of what the community is saying in this discussion is they didn’t understand how what we were doing was going to impact their lives. I think people are willing to wait for an integrated mass transit system to get to them if they thought it was going to get to them. That means getting a feel for the timing and cost of it. But if it just appears as a line drawn on a piece of paper, people don’t buy that. I think that we need to improve Capital Metro and the bus system. Ridership on the buses is down today from 2006 and 2008. The system costs twice as much as it did back then.

 

DT: Your opponent, City Council member Mike Martinez, said decreased ridership numbers was partly caused by increased density around campus. How does that change your opinion on ridership numbers?

SA: I think it’s good students are living closer to campus. I think it’s a bad thing that ridership is down. I think, when you run a transit system like that and only 5 percent of the population uses it, that’s not where you want to be. Until we get out in front of the supply and demand a balance, we’re just going to be creating smaller units that cost more. We have more and more students that have to live farther and farther away because they can’t afford those premium locations. Those people should be able to have a transit system. Density downtown, good thing. Ridership down, bad thing.

 

DT: Why do you support a 20 percent homestead exemption?

SA: I support the 20 percent because, contrary to how it is perceived by some, it is the fairest thing to do for the people who are low income in our city. It would be better and more progressive if we could do a property tax that is a flat rate or capped tax. I spent my life pushing for those changes at the state level. With the legislature, it probably won’t change for the next 25 years. Eighty percent of homeowners own homes less than $400,000. A lot of those people paid $85,000 and now their property values have gone up. The people we help most are the poorer people because they’re the ones that can’t make the adjustments to pay for higher property taxes.

 

DT: With runoffs happening during the end of the semester, are you worried about student turnout?

SA: I am worried. We did well on the student boxes [in the general election], and I spent a lot of time talking to students, and I was proud of that. In just an absolute sense, I’m concerned not just about students but everyone else with the holiday season. The 16th is the first day of Hanukkah. People are going to get lost. And when people don’t vote, people feel less invested. Students need to feel invested so they’ll be more involved. The power that students have is enormous, and I would love to see students reclaim that.

Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

Mike Martinez, Austin City Council member and mayoral candidate, sat down with The Daily Texan to discuss his plans should he be elected. Martinez faces off against Steve Adler in the runoff for Austin mayor Dec. 16. Early voting for the runoff election begins Dec. 1. The interview is the first of two with the mayoral candidates.

The Daily Texan: What are some issues that directly impact students that you plan on working for?

Mike Martinez: For me, the things that I’ve worked on is things like our public transit agency, making sure we expand our public transportation and folks have alternatives to paying for cars and car insurance. I’ve just announced we are going to launch the conversation about how we can get to the largest bus service expansions. Prop. 1 failing does not mean we do not try to be better. Students directly benefit from public transportation, and it affects their affordability.

DT: Why do you disagree with Adler’s proposed 20 percent homestead exemption? 

MM: I’ve consistently not supported a 20 percent homestead exemption across the board because it’ll raise rent, and renters make up more than 50 percent of Austin residents. While those policies sound good to homeowners, it doesn’t benefit those who need it the most.

DT: You said you supported a flat-rate homestead exemption instead. Why is that better than a 20 percent homestead exemption? 

MM: For oversimplification, if you have a million-dollar home and you have a 20 percent exemption, your property tax bill is based off of an $800,000 home. The more value you have in your home, the percentage-based exemption benefits you the most. If you do a flat rate exemption — let’s say you do a $100,000 worth of exemption and you live in a $100,000 house. If you live in that home, your whole tax bill is wiped. We can do it on a flat rate basis for seniors and [those who are] disabled and we raised that to $71,000. You would have that taken off your property tax every year.

DT: How would the 20 percent homestead exemption affect renters? 

MM: It would cause rents to go up. To pay for the $36 million to implement the homestead exemption you’d have to go to the budget; you have to find $36 million somewhere. And the effect it’ll have outside of the city budget is the rents will go up. Adler even published on his website it will cause rents to go up $80 a year. We knew it would have a negative effect on renters.

DT: What are ways the City of Austin can help students?

MM: Transportation has a huge impact on affordability. UT students make up 17 percent of our entire ridership, which is huge. But it has dropped significantly over the last six years. If you look at West Campus and you look at the University neighborhood overlay so densification could happen — we said let’s put students nearer campus, let’s create density around and near the campus so students can ride a bike or walk. So all the density near campus has worked against CapMetro, but it’s the right thing to do. You don’t want to plan city so that students and residents are dependent on transportation, you want to make them independent of transportation.

DT: Water conservation has been tossed around a few times this election cycle. Adler has cited San Antonio’s high rates of reusing their water — 20 percent in comparison to our 6 percent. Can we do better?

MM: We have a major river running through our city that provides drinking water and water for rice farmers downstream. San Antonio doesn’t have that — a river that provides a drinking source for so many entities. So we have to keep putting water back into the river that we take out. We can certainly increase our reclaimed water and gray-water use, but we are not the authority on water in Austin. If we interrupt downstream flows, we will face the LCRA demanding we put water back into the river. It’s also about capture. When you think about [Saturday’s] rain and the amount of water that fell across Austin — if we had policy that asked buildings to have an on-site capture system, we could capture thousands of gallons for gray-water purposes, like irrigating or flushing toilets. It’s not just reusing water — it’s capturing that precious water instead of letting it flow south of Austin.

DT: Since the runoff election takes place during finals, does the possibility of decreased student turnout worry you? 

MM: It is a concern. The reason I championed moving our elections to November was so students could be involved in making decisions about their local officials. We’ve always had our elections in May and turnout has always been low because students had gone for the summer. In November, students were able to participate at a level they never had. Our goal is to station ourselves on campus every day of early vote and make sure they participate. We know we can still have a strong student turnout; we just need to remind them about early vote.

Photo Credit: Michael Baez | Daily Texan Staff

With less than a month until mayoral candidates Steve Adler and Mike Martinez face each other in a runoff election on Dec. 16, the two continued their series of debates last week. Adler and Martinez, who currently sits on the Austin City Council, debated at City Hall on the City Council’s structure and land planning.

Adler criticized the City Council for holding meetings into the early hours of the morning and making policy decisions from the dais. Adler proposed a committee structure for the City Council that he said would cut down on the length of City Council meetings, while bringing the public closer to city decisions.

“Everyone on City Council would chair a committee, which means everyone would have a citywide responsibility and would come up with a citywide constituency, so they won’t think just about their districts, but think about city generally,” Adler said.

Martinez said the committee structure would disengage citizens from the process.

“They don’t want their items sitting in a committee structure,” Martinez said. “They want their items and priorities to be voted on by the City Council. You have to manage that on the dais as well, so people have their opportunity to participate and so Council can make the final decision.”

Tweaking the current City Council structure is enough, Martinez said.

“Democracy is not always convenient, but it is absolutely necessary and we have one of the most active communities in terms of participation,” Martinez said. “I believe we can make some structural changes and cut down the amount of hours. You have to establish rules, stick to those rules, so there is consistency. If you call for a time certain for 6:30 p.m., you stop the meeting; you hear the item because that is what you committed to.”

Martinez defended CodeNEXT, a land development code that the Austin City Council voted on and passed a solution for Thursday night. Austin’s intricate land development code has made building projects in the city expensive and complicated for citizens, according to Martinez. 

“It is an opportunity to take our code, delayer it, and create something understandable so that you, the average citizen, can do your own projects and not hire a specialist,” Martinez said. “It’s also going to help us from a land planning perspective. When you look at public transportation and growth, CodeNEXT is a way we can have an impact on all of those issues.”

Secure Communities and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees impact Austin negatively, Martinez said. He promised to fight against deportation programs like these and make sure no Austin money went to entities that “run against our values.”

“I was so proud of President Obama in taking the first step in stopping organizations like Secure Communities,” Martinez said. “It came from the local level. The president’s executive order is a result for places like Austin who have been fighting and marching and getting local government to adopt resolutions and effect change in any way they could, and it resulted in the president of the United States issuing an executive order.”

Adler agreed that detainment and deportation programs, such as Secure Communities, worked counter-productively. 

“We shouldn’t be detaining people under that program in our community,” Adler said. “You don’t have to look any further than Police Chief [Art] Acevedo, who says that practice makes law enforcement more difficult.”