Lee Leffingwell is running for mayor because as he puts it, "These are tough times and the City needs a steady hand and a strong hand, someone who
will stay focused on the fundamentals." Jackie O'Keefe, Andrew Donaho, and Donna Beth McCormick hosted a meet the candidate get-together Saturday afternoon with council member and mayoral candidate Lee Leffingwell. Jackie and Andrew opened up their doors onto their backyard deck that looks out onto Jackie's beautiful garden where the meeting took place. They served BBQ and refreshments. This is the second of the Allandale Reporter mayoral candidate reports. The first was with Brewster McCracken that took place at Jason Mittman and Sheila Reiter's house on Shoal Creek.
In his opening remarks, Lee went on to list the
fundamentals as the economy, traffic, social services, environmental
protection, safety, and delivering effective and efficient public
services. He said he also wants to use the position to build trust between the city and the people. He proposes having council meetings at locations around the city and creating a community cabinet made up of people from all parts of the city and walks of life. They would meet every couple of months to talk about what the issues are outside of city hall. He is also proposing an intern program for high school and college-age students called Austin Core. It would be a year-long academic program that would include work that is both useful to them and to the community.
On the economy Lee said he has a different view than his opponents. "Brewster keeps saying that my approach is to hunker down." That's not all that bad in his opinion. "I really do think that hunkering down means fiscal responsibility and focusing our efforts on Austin. We ought be helping build small businesses and putting people back to work." He said we should be making it easier for businesses to work through the city process. With regard to traffic, Lee is proposing dedicating the next bond election in 2010 to transportation. It would include monies for roads, intersection improvements, and traffic light synchronization. "We also need to fix and construct sidewalks and bicycle lanes." When it comes to mass transit he said "we need to put a viable plan for mass transit before the voters" and thinks there is room for improvement in Cap Metro.
Lee concluded saying "Austin is the greatest city in America. We've been through tough times before. With strong city leadership in the mayors office we can emerge from this stronger than ever. We have to take care of the basics. "
Q – Lack of transparency at the city utility.
A – Lee agreed more could be done to open it up.
Q – What's the role for city when it comes to jobs and the economy.
A- City's role as helper, facilitator, advice giver and red tape eliminator.
Q – Austin doesn't rank high on the happiness factors, what can we do about that.
A – We actually do well in areas like air quality and water conservation. We are an environmentally conscious city. We are committed to getting 30 percent of our power from renewable resources by 2020.
Q – Thoughts on legislation concerning how public transportation is funded
A- Supports it because the current system is not adequate. Cap Metro only gets 10% of the costs for bus service paid for through fares. The rest of it comes from sales tax. We need additional revenues sources.
Q – What's the city going to do to help people who have been laid off in the tech industry start new businesses.
A – We should make it easier to start a business with various help classes and also make it easier for them at the permitting level. Also need to be aware that our economy is changing and that some of the jobs won't be coming back. Sees new opportunities in renewable energies, medical technology, and digital media.
Q – Neighborhood concerns about impact of VMU on neighborhoods.
A – Agrees there is a need for density but has supported neighborhood's recommendations where they have opposed it.
Q – What about the comprehensive planning process.
A – I believe we need to delay moving forward on the comprehensive plan because because it's upside down. The input needs to come from the neighborhood planning organizations. Need to postpone selection of a consultant. The issue has been delayed until April 23. If it's going to be successful, it has to be a community-driven process not a consultant-driven process.