I know some of you are still undecided on Proposition 1 so here's my final statement as early voting kicks off.
I understand that I may spend more time at City Council meetings or pay attention to local politics more than most here in Austin, especially folks under 35, but that doesn't make my single, individual vote count anymore than yours does. And that's a good thing.
Austin didn't vote for an important transit infrastructure bond in 2000 and our city has paid a very very huge price as a result. Imagine how much time you've lost in traffic. Imagine how much damage our cars have done to the environment while sitting in traffic. Imagine how many lives have been lost due to accidents on I-35 or drunk driving accidents. Imagine how much easier life would be if we had passed something similar to Prop 1 back in 2000 when Austin had the chance.
Now we can't go back and fix the past, but we can do something important about the future.
There are some people who are against this bond because it'll raise property taxes. You know what, that is true. Property taxes do tend to go up a bit when you have one of the fastest growing cities in the country for years and years and one of the most vibrant economies in the country for years on end. There are pluses and minuses to all this growth, but I'll take the pluses any day.
There are some people who are against this bond because they think they have a better idea for where the light rail route should go. You know what, that is false. If this alternative route these people speak of had the kind of broad-based support needed to get onto the ballot this November don't you think that would be the route we'd be looking at and voting on?
There are some people who say we're paying too much for this bond and this light rail route? Well, I have three things to say for that: 1) Part of the cost we're paying is the cost associated with having done the wrong thing back in 2000 so we have to pay up to fix it now and for the future. 2) Part of the cost of this $1 billion bond is $400 million in major road improvements that EVERYONE agrees we need. Yes, everyone. 3) The $600 million earmarked for light rail infrastructure is CONDITIONAL upon the city getting federal matching dollars. That means Austin voters are getting a 2-for-1 special on their property tax increases because the federal government is such a big believer in light rail that they're (likely) willing to cover nearly half the cost associated with building it!
Last point. You probably know 1 or 2 people (maybe a few more) who are voting against Prop 1, but let me remind you of who will be voting FOR Prop 1 starting tomorrow at 7 a.m. when early voting starts
1. I support Prop 1. You can read my blogs at joah.typepad.com to hear my personal reasoning.
2. The business community of Austin supports Prop 1 from Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League and WP Engine CEO (and my mentor) Heather J. Brunner to the Austin Chamber of Commerce and Spredfast & People Pattern cofounder Kenneth Cho.
3. Yes, the tech community supports Prop 1 too including Capital Factory founder Joshua Baer, Silicon Labs CEO Tyson Tuttle and BuildASign CEO Dan Graham.
5. The environmental community supports Prop 1. Clean Water Action, Environment Texas, CleanTX, the Austin Regional Group of the Sierra Club and the Texas League of Conservation Voters all endorsed it.
6. The cultural leaders of Austin from mayoral candidates Mike Martinez (the lone Hispanic on the City Council) and Sheryl Cole (the lone African American on the City Council) to The Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber and the Greater Austin Asian Chamber.
7. Neighborhoods support Proposition 1, including the Mueller Neighborhood Association, Downtown Austin Alliance and the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association.
8. Both BikeTexas and ATX Safer Streets support Prop 1.
9. University of Texas' Student Government unanimously voted for Proposition 1.
10. Hoteliers, realtors and architects support Prop 1 including the American Institute of Architects, the Austin Hotel & Lodging Association and the Real Estate Council of Austin.
11. The current mayor of Austin Lee Leffingwell, the former mayors of Austin Kirk Watson and Gus Garcia and the longest serving Congressman of Austin, Lloyd Doggett, all support Prop 1 as does mayoral candidate Steve Adler.
Final word: early voting runs from Oct. 20 to Oct. 31. Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 4. This is the most important election we'll have at the local level for YEARS. We'll also get a chance to elect a new Mayor of Austin, City Council members for 10 districts AND a new Governor of Texas.
I'm excited! Are you??