Thank you to everyone who participated in our 'Save Muny' Candidate Forum on Wednesday, September 17th. We sincerely appreciate all of the mayoral and District 10 candidates coming to the Lions Municipal Golf Course Clubhouse and sharing their encouraging thoughts and suggestions about how we can save this beloved historic green space.
While the 'Save Muny' group will not officially endorse any candidate, we want to share each of their official positions on the issue before heading to the polls. On Friday we kindly requested a short closing statement (300 words or less) from each campaign on why their candidate is best suited to tackle this issue upon taking office. We appreciate each campaign for participating on such short notice. All responses will be incorporated into our ongoing discussion and community outreach efforts to preserve this Austin treasure. With so many strong commitments to our cause, we are confident a resolution that benefits both the Austin Community and the University of Texas is achievable.
Thank you to everyone for your support, leadership and continued input into this deserving effort. Early voting begins Monday, October 19. Visit voteatx.us to find your nearest polling place. Visit our Get Involved page to learn more, donate, request a yard sign and more!
VOTE TO SAVE MUNY 2014: CLOSING STATEMENTS
CANDIDATES FOR MAYOR
"When it comes to the City of Austin negotiating with the University of Texas to save Muny, make no mistake about it, we are negotiating right now. We should be negotiating with every single land deal, every variance, every fee waiver that UT requests. I look forward to using my experience as a land use attorney to negotiate with the University of Texas in the interests of saving our municipal course.
We need to save Muny and other open urban spaces because once they are gone, they are gone forever. With Lion's location and historic foundations in this city, it is imperative to do everything we can to save it." - Steve Adler
Occupation: Attorney Experience: chief of staff/general counsel for state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh; attorney (has argued civil rights cases, focuses on eminent domain defense); Anti-Defamation League Austin Region board chair; Texas Tribune board chair Issues: new 10-1 system, traffic, affordability, public education, poverty, water, environment Website:www.adlerforaustin.com Facebook:Steve Adler for Austin Mayor Twitter:@AdlerForAustin
"We have a close working relationship with UT and I look forward to continue working with them to preserve as much open space as possible in the central city. Austin’s next mayor is going to have to take a collaborative approach to find a solution, and from my days as PTA president at Lee Elementary to leading the redevelopment of long-neglected Waller Creek, I have a record bringing people together and moving our city forward. As Chair of Audit and Finance I have kept the city’s triple AAA bond rating, and any solution we work towards has to be taken with the entire city’s budget in mind." - Sheryl Cole
"For almost a century, Lions Municipal Golf Course has been a literal and symbolic piece of Austin’s historic fabric. While some may believe the City’s role in Muny’s future is limited, you and I know there are ample opportunities and options to save this historic landmark through an agreement with the University of Texas and the State of Texas. My commitment remains true to doing what is necessary to end the debate and uncertainty and find a resolution that everyone can embrace.
It is time to bring this long-standing issue to a close and create true certainty for our community. As Mayor, I will propose to create the Lions Municipal Golf Conservancy to continue to raise necessary funds, create more structure to our movement and to do what it takes to incorporate Muny as a permanent part of our City golf system. The conservancy could be the final, key missing component to long-term vision, care and preservation of Muny.
Recent comments made by the University regarding a potential partnership with the City of Austin for a new arena clearly shows there are many discussions to be had and much work to be done if UT wants to be a full partner with the City of Austin. I welcome and embrace that full partnership, and Muny will be a part of those discussions if I am your next Mayor. We will need a Mayor with proven, tested leadership and experience in government to guide us through the tough negotiations and come to a permanent resolution with all stakeholders including Austin, UT, the State of Texas, and citizens. I will ensure all parties are actively engaged until this matter is completely and fully resolved." - Mike Martinez
Occupation: City Council member (since 2006) Experience: longtime civic activist; former firefighter and president, Austin Firefighters Association; Capital Metro board member and current chair Issues: affordability, traffic and transportation, equity Website:www.mike4mayor.com Facebook:Mike Martinez Twitter:@CouncilManMike
"Part of Austin’s appeal is a rich and unique cultural and environmental heritage. Historic Lions Municipal golf course and greenspace is no less valuable, and no less worthy of saving, than the many unique buildings protected and preserved by historic designation.
During my participation in your September 17th “Save Muny” Candidate Forum, I proposed that Austin’s acquisition of Muny be part of a quid pro quo arrangement with UT.
Austin’s habit of giving to UT, from street closures to fee waivers, with nothing in return, reflects a callous and irresponsible attitude from City Council and staff. UT should stop acting like a foreign embassy and start acting like a responsible member of our community. UT will always want more from Austin, so we must take advantage of this with equitable tradeoffs. The key is proper use of a tool used by major corporations: Strategic Planning.
A Strategic Plan with a 25-year planning horizon forces us to consider all aspects of our city—nothing catches us by surprise again (think traffic and water). We will spell out our values, priorities, policies, and strategies. We will have a roadmap for achieving our goals. We will have a plan of work for the coming year and the performance measures to hold Council accountable.
By engaging in long-term planning, we can list UT’s expected requests within the next 25 years. Then we can decide what priorities we expect from UT in return. Our relationship will be based on a mutual and beneficial quid pro quo.
I am the only candidate with a plan for saving Austin from an unsustainable growth model and bad government. My Six Step Plan (orshalick4mayor.com/our_solutions) describes how we can save Austin. My solutions include saving Muny, which is why I am the best candidate to tackle this issue." - David Orshalick
Occupation: Retired tech author and businessman Experience: Business & technology expertise; developed Austin Computer Fair (1983); neighborhood and civic activist (Allandale NA, Austin Neighborhoods Council) Issues: City's bad government and unsustainable growth model; end city's growth promotion; increase affordable housing supply; oppose local Prop. 1; promote cellular mass transit Website:www.orshalick4mayor.com
We at the Todd Phelps for Austin Mayor campaign would like to emphasize that as Mayor of Austin Todd Phelps will be committed to maintaining Muny as a stand alone municipal facility. Todd Phelps values Muny as a buffer between downtown and lake Austin. Todd realizes that Austin would not be Austin without our green space and natural areas.
As Mayor Todd will be committed to using every piece of leverage available when it comes to dealing with the University of Texas. That leverage would include any future deals regarding land use, waivers and withholding cooperation on certain projects until we know that Muny is completely safe.
Todd Phelps has a history of working with The Longhorn Foundation and will use good will and his dynamic talent for working with people to be the voice that Muny needs to secure a future in our city. That being said Todd is not beholden to any special interest group. The fact that he is not a career politician nor an practicing attorney in Texas makes him uniquely suited to protect Muny without worrying about past constituents or future clients that may be in opposition to the preservation of Muny. Todd's mission is to preserve the soul of Austin and protect what is sacred to us, keeping Muny safe is a crucial component of that mission. Please join Todd at ToddPhelpsForAustin.com or share your thoughts at email@example.com."
Occupation: Musician; businessman Experience: Energy negotiations, lending projects, farming, ranching, property management; arts and film production Issues: Transportation, environmental protection, taxation, open space Website:www.phelpsforaustin.com Facebook:Todd Phelps Twitter:@PhelpsForAustin
"Thank you for allowing me to participate in your forum last month.
As to the business of how to address saving the Lions Municipal Golf Course from redevelopment by the University of Texas, I have the following thoughts. At the forum, I suggested we could block redevelopment; however, we do know the University of Texas could also shut down the course and allow it to become inaccessible. This begs a couple of questions; whether U.T. has solicited the City of Austin or otherwise offered the land for sale; and, at what price? Has the City of Austin made any offer or sought a price of the University (owner) to date?
Every purchase, and every policy decision by civic leaders must pass a three-dimensional test of viability. In such a case where some candidates for District 10 City Council seat have invoked "African American Heritage" as rationale for purchase, I might suggest if that is to be put forward publicly, there are current needs in our community which should be answered in the same stroke. The fourth dimension of decisions by public servants is more spiritual than anything else. One has to determine the perception of every minority in the community and make certain his or her decision and vote on the dais will satisfy their needs.
If Austin is presented with a viable price tag for the property, a Charitable Trust could be established as Owner (of Lions Municipal Golf Course), and involve placing Golf as Jr. and Sr. High School (particularly in East Austin) sports curriculum, provide golf clubs, lessons, mentoring and Scholarships as part of the selling point we could place on the ballot for Austin voters to approve." - Randall Stephens
"Harvey Penick said, “The follow through is a reflection of what has gone before it.” We learn many of life’s lessons from history and life experiences outside the classroom. Lions Municipal is a constant reflection of making a better moral choice when it became the 1st course south of the Mason Dixon line to be desegregated.
It was with much enthusiasm after learning that in 1971, US Supreme Court case Citizens to Preserve Overton Park vs Volpe was upheld that park places could have protection as historical sites. Therefore, I made inquires and sent the SAVE MUNY committee steps needed to be taken to have the Texas Historical Commission recommend MUNY to the Keeper of the National Registry to be listed on the National Registry of Historical Places. In addition, due to MUNY’s immense history it occurred to me that we could make the clubhouse a museum for the entire city to enjoy so it’s not just about golf but a gathering place. With some inquires, I have sent the SAVE MUNY committee how to plan a museum. MUNY can be listed in the National Registry without UT’s permission. However, it would be better if the city, University of Texas, and neighborhood associations would create a positive private/public collaboration plan that allows for a win-win.
Bertha Means, whom Pearce school was just named after, and I have visited about hosting a golf tournament to raise awareness to SAVE MUNY. Being the current President of Junior Austin Women’s club that works to preserve another Austin icon, Chateau Bellavue, I understand the importance of preserving truly historical places. I have been the only candidate that put words into action to protect MUNY. A vote for Margie is for strong leadership, tax cuts, and integrity that will bring government back to the people." - Margie Burciaga
"Lions Municipal Golf Course is to be saved, everyone of the candidates will tell you that, I certainly agree. The real question is how? At the recent Candidate Forum, I was the fieriest of the candidates on this issue and the only one with a real tangible solution. But first let me tell you why I love this course and green space so very much.
I have been playing here since I moved to Austin back in ’93. I loved calling the clubhouse at the last minute on Saturday and asking for a tee time only to hear LouAnn’s familiar voice say, “yeah girl, we can work you in, come on!” Aside from the historical value, Muny is a true neighborhood course, friendly, inexpensive and absolutely gorgeous. The lungs of West Austin.
So how can we save it? We cannot possibly make an offer to buy, it is one of the most expensive properties in Texas. What I offered at the forum was to use the biggest bargaining chip we have, rail. You see the rail (if it passes) is going to run right pass UT’s big ol’ football field for FREE. That’s right, the $1.4 billion dollar rail bond will run rail into UT and along west campus for free, forever. This project is the biggest bargaining chip we will ever have with UT and we need to use it to save Muny. If you want to save Muny, vote no on rail, vote for Tina Cannon and let me negotiate with UT on any future rail coming thru their campus in exchange for Muny.
Simply saying yes to saving is not enough, I was the only candidate to offer a real solution. Vote for leadership, CEO business experience and the tenacity to get it done." - Tina Cannon
Occupation: Partner, Napkin Venture (entrepreneur advisory firm); director of client relations, Tuggey Calvoz law firm Experience: Council candidate (2012); entrepreneur-in-residence (Texas State Univ.); financial auditor and business consultant Issues: Property tax appraisals, water and conservation, emergency preparedness (wildfires), affordability, transportation Website:www.tinacannon.org Facebook:Elect Tina Cannon – City Council District 10 Twitter:@TinaCannonTX
"I am the best candidate to fight for saving Lions Municipal Golf Course because I have a long history of bringing people together to find to find win-win solutions. I have a proven track record of listening to everyone and collaborating to find solutions that work. Having served on the Planning Commission for seven years, I have comprehensive understanding of the land development code. I have worked with nonprofit and historic foundations in the past to protect resources, which I think is the best approach to save MUNY. I would like to see MUNY registered as a national historic place, and I would work with supporters to establish a nonprofit to protect this National Register historic property, once that designation is received." - Mandy Dealey
Occupation: Civic activist Experience: City commissioner (Planning Commission, Waterfront Overlay, etc.); former board chair, Mental Health Association, Planned Parenthood, Texas Lyceum, and Preservation Austin; current chair of KMFA-FM Issues: Water, transportation, affordability, neighborhood preservation Website:www.mandydealey.com Facebook:Mandy Dealey for Austin City Council Place 10 Twitter:@MandyDealey
"The reality is that UT is the owner of the property and can do whatever they want to. Because of my deep roots in Austin, consensus building skills and longtime positive reputation with UT decision makers, I’m convinced I’m the best candidate to help influence UT to work with our community towards a solution that doesn’t destroy 150 acres of central Austin green space and the historic Lions Municipal golf course.
Over the past decade I’ve had a relationship with UT as a volunteer in leadership roles, serving on UT Development Board, Chair of UT School of Social Work Advisory Board and Dean Search committee. Since I’m not an employee of UT, I don’t have a conflict which could possibly affect negotiations with UT. This could potentially be a problem with one District 10 candidate whose wife is a UT employee making a salary over $300,000. My loyalty and priorities are absolutely aligned with District 10 neighborhoods in the quest to save Muny. I’ve established a reputation with UT decision makers as a thoughtful and reasonable person which will enable conversations with UT. I’ll make sure future negotiations with UT for fee waivers or expenditure of citizen’s tax dollars for UT projects include keeping Muny undeveloped and benefits Austin tax payers, not just UT.
I believe that I’m the right person to “remind” UT that Muny golf course became a site of national historical importance to our African American community in Austin when in 1951 Muny became the earliest integrated public golf course in Southern United States. On its website, UT Vice President of Diversity, Dr. Vincent says “A free exchange of ideas requires mutual respect and consideration for our differences”. To me the beginning of mutual respect for differences began with integration, and there is no better way for UT to represent its commitment to diversity and respecting differences than to protect this historically important golf course. Through my work with the Austin Housing Authority I have established important relationships with the leaders in our African American community and can facilitate the collaboration which will help their voices be heard and join all of us as partners in presenting this message of saving Muny to UT and the Austin Community.
As a native Austinite and a member of a family who has lived in Austin for six generations, I‘m an advocate of balancing growth and preservation. Muny is an important Austin green space, a place of recreation, and historic golf course, and if it is allowed to be developed, we will never get those treasures back. We must SAVE MUNY!!" - Sheri Gallo
Occupation: Realtor, business owner (Private Properties agency) Experience: Commissioners Court candidate (2002); former chair, Housing Authority of Austin; former board member, Real Estate Council of Austin Issues: Transportation and mobility, affordability and taxation, water (drought and wildfires), core services (public safety and infrastructure) Website:www.sherigallo.com Facebook:Sheri Gallo - Austin City Council District 10 Twitter:@electsherigallo
"Of all the candidates running in District 10, I live the closest to Muny. In fact, I live across the street. So for me, “Save Muny” isn’t a mere political promise, it’s my pledge to preserve my neighborhood and my hometown. It’s my promise to you, and I’ve put that on my campaign materials and on my website, www.mattlamon.com.
Saving our beloved green space will take the kind of skills and experiences that I am best suited to deliver. For one, I understand political power and have relationships with political leaders. I serve as Chief of Staff in the Texas House and for nearly 6 Legislative Sessions (12 years) have worked with both Republicans and Democrats alike to get things done. I know how political influence works and I have relationships with state political leaders ready to help us with our fight.
But I also have extensive experience with PricewaterhouseCoopers, an international consulting firm, where I led big government projects and worked to solve problems across government agencies. I’m experienced at navigating the bureaucracy and, when necessary, I know how to be a tough advocate for the things I believe in.
More importantly, I’m a constructive leader. I’m not interested in getting credit or putting a feather in my cap, I’m interested in solving problems. That’s why I’m running for my hometown city council. I’m so proud to be from Austin and this fight to Save Muny is about my neighborhood and about the city I grew up in.
Unlike some of my opponents, my answer doesn’t change depending on the group I’m taking to. I’ve always been 100% for Save Muny. When I’m elected to City Council District 10, I look forward to working with you on Day 1 to Save Muny." - Matt Lamon
Occupation: Chief of staff, state Rep. J.M. Lozano (R-Kingsville) Experience: Legislative staffer; bipartisan work; consulting; board member, the Welcome Table nonprofit Issues: Transportation; govt. efficiency; parks & rec. (Save Muny); public safety; affordability Website:www.mattlamon.com/ Facebook:Matt Lamon Twitter:@matthewlamon
"Lions Municipal Golf Course should never be, and will never be, turned into a piece of commercial real estate. The people of Austin, with my help, stopped the Walmart Supercenter. The people of Austin will not stand for Muny to be “developed” in any way.
If you elect someone from District 10, like me, who is firmly against developing Muny, there will never be 6 votes on the new council to allow it to happen.
Unlike other candidates, I am not endorsed or recruited by any real estate interests, and my wife is not a vice chancellor at UT.
You can count on me to do more than just Save Muny. I’ll defend and protect it." - Jason Meeker
Occupation: Owner, Meeker Marcom (public relations) Experience: Commissioner (Zoning & Platting); president, Great Hills HOA and Great Hills Park NA; Sector 1 rep., Austin Neighborhoods Council; neighborhood advocacy Issues: strengthen neighborhoods; transparency and accountability in government and campaigns; balance between desirable development and economic and natural resources Website:www.meekerforaustin.com Facebook:Jason Meeker for Austin City Council Twitter:@MeekerforAustin
"Saving this 90 year-old, historic golf course, the most played course in Austin, is of city-wide importance as a green-space and recreational resource, and of particular importance to citizens in District 10. Our new city council should do everything in it’s power to save Muny. Recognizing that the University of Texas (a sovereign state entity) owns the property, and can act unilaterally, will require electing a city council member from District 10 with unique and specialized training. As an attorney who has handled complex business litigation cases, I have a 20 year career of negotiating solutions in very large and complex multi-party cases, just like this one. I am the only City Council District 10 candidate who has this training and experience. It is not enough for a candidate to be passionate about Muny. We must have a council member who is passionate AND has the proven track record to fight on our behalf. By recognizing and understanding that the City of Austin and the University of Texas have multiple intertwined interests all over the city, we can negotiate a global win/win solution that allows both entities to protect their interests and be good partners, good neighbors and good “citizens” ." - Robert Thomas
Experience: AISD Community Bond Oversight Committee, Chair; SafePlace, former Board Chair; Austin Partners in Education, Elementary School Mentor; Austin Child Guidance Center, former Governance Chair; Northwest Austin Civic Association, Vice President; Austin Neighborhoods Council, neighborhood representative, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, Board Member; State House candidate, HD48 (2012) Issues: Traffic, Affordability, Water, Emergency Services, Neighborhood Advocacy and Environmental Stewardship Website:voterobertthomas.com Facebook:Robert Thomas Campaign Twitter:@RobertThomas4TX
"I can briefly summarize my thoughts on the future of Lions Municipal as follows. As a homeowner living directly between Muny and Mopac, my family will be directly and profoundly affected by any significant development at Muny. Suffice to say, it has my attention.
My personal preference is that Muny should remain the green jewel that it has always been in West Austin. In order to preserve Muny, the UT System will need to be satisfied that its financial return on the property is satisfactory. Scraping Muny and developing the property is but one way to achieve that return. Other ways that include saving Muny can and should be explored and exhausted first, accounting for all costs of development in a system already constrained by infrastructure, traffic, school capacity, environmental impacts and neighborhood quality to name a few.
There is a knowable revenue stream needed to achieve UT’s rate of return on this asset, and many factors affecting the calculation. One that I mentioned at the candidate forum was the influence held by local UT donors.
Let’s come to know and understand the financial hurdle that must be cleared to retain Muny, and take dead aim at achieving that result to the satisfaction of UT and our community with leadership coming from our neighborhood." - Bill Worsham
Occupation: Engineer, LJA Engineering Experience: Dir. of coastal engineering, LJA Engineering; five years in General Land Office (coastal erosion response); Real Estate Council of Austin; active in single-member districting; volunteer (Caritas, Trinity Center, Habitat for Humanity, Foundation Communities; Republican Party activist Issues: Traffic, public safety, natural resource protection, emergency management, development planning, and the proper and necessary role of government.