League of Bicycling Voters releases its Austin City Council Endorsements
Posted Mar 25 2009 4:11pm
Local cycling advocacy group, the League of Bicycling Voters, released its list of endorsed candidates for the May 9th Austin City Council Election. There are not a lot of shockers here:
Mayor: Lee Leffingwell
Place 1: Chris Riley
Place 2: Mike Martinez
Place 5: Bill Spelman
Place 6: Sheryl Cole
Bill Spelman is running unopposed and incumbents Cole & Martinez have token opposition. That leaves the mayors race, where a consensus in endorsing groups is forming around current councilmember Lee Leffingwell, and Chris Riley, a carfree cyclist who is running to fill Leffingwell’s unexpired term which opened up when he jumped into the Mayor’s race.
Here’s the text from their press release with the rational behind each endorsement:
As Austin residents we know there are a host of challenges and opportunities for our city that need to be addressed by the next City Council that stand apart from just encouraging bicycling. But we also know that bicycle transportation is the most effective and affordable solution to challenges like traffic congestion, declining air and water quality, increasing health-care costs, skyrocketing public safety budgets and creating sustainable development, not to mention dependence on foreign oil supplies. With that in mind we looked for candidates who were willing to take the lead in promoting bicycling.
Mayor As a city council member, Lee Leffingwell has been a consistent supporter of bicycle-related projects, including his sponsorship and participation on the Street Smarts Task Force. In his bid for mayor, he has shown an impressive command of the issues facing bicyclists, such as the need to have bicycle lanes free of automobile parking. Leffingwell also has pledged to include bicycle infrastructure investments in a possible transportation bond package in the coming years, and he is supportive of safety improvements like a three-foot passing law.
Place 1 Chris Riley is by far the most experienced and well-rounded candidate for the Austin City Council, and we’re elated that he’s also a long-time bicycle advocate who is passionate about the need for making cycling more accessible and safer for all Austinites. This is a candidate who is serious about doubling our percentage of bicycle commuters and will be watching the numbers to make sure we’re making progress. As a former planning commission chair, downtown commission member and member of many other city boards and task forces—including the Street Smarts Task Force—Riley is well-equipped to integrate the benefits of bicycling into other key strategies Austin will need for meeting the challenges ahead. And did we mention that he rides his bicycle just about everywhere? And when he can’t, he uses Austin CarShare, the nonprofit car-sharing organization he helped form. Bicyclists are indeed lucky to have such a highly-qualified candidate who they can truly call one of their own.
Place 2 Mike Martinez gets it when it comes to integrating bicycles into the transportation mix. As a city council member he’s often been the guy that makes sure bicyclists’ concerns and issues aren’t forgotten. As a parent of a young bicyclist, he’s cognizant of the need to make riding Austin’s streets safer. He too was a strong supporter of the Street Smarts Task Force and is excited about carrying out the recommendations for the group, which have been integrated into the city’s bike plan update.
Place 5 Bill Spelman was a key supporter of bicycle issues in his first stint as a council member almost a decade ago. We’re glad to have him back, and even happier to hear his current enthusiasm for promoting more ways to attract new bicycle commuters, such as expanded shower facilities.
Place 6 Sheryl Cole recognizes the need to beef up our commitment to bicycle infrastructure, and she has been a constant supporter of bicyclists as a city council member. We were glad to hear that she is emphatic about developing a significant bicycle facility—one that can be used by cyclists of all ages—that parallels and offers access to the Waller Creek District project.
So we’ve had a forum and now endorsements. What is the cycling community going to do to actually show up at the polls and be a force to be reckoned with? In the last city council election, the turnout didn’t crack 40,000. I’d be surprised if this race breaks 50,000. An additional 5000 voters would likely produce the margin of victory in these races.
So what can we do? First, make sure you’re registered to vote. The registration deadline to vote in this election is April 9. Then show up to vote early April 27 -May 5 or on election day, Saturday, May 9.