Mayoral candidates discuss impact of ballot propositions

On Thursday, all seven of Austin's candidates for mayor squared off in a debate for the first time. (CBS Austin)

On Thursday, all seven of Austin's candidates for mayor squared off in a debate for the first time.

Afterwards, Mayor Steve Adler and front running challenger and former council member Laura Morrison spoke about the two propositions that could have a major impact on voters in this election.

One of those propositions, Proposition J, centers around re-writing the city's land development code, after the fallout of CodeNext. The proposition would ensure there is a public vote, prior to any major changes in the code.

Morrison said CodeNext lost the public's trust. She supports Proposition J. "It was $8.5 million, over budget, over time, and the people's priorities were not being listened to," said Morrison. "And given that we've had that experience, that's the constraint we need to put into place."

Mayor Steve Adler said he wants the community to be involved and heard, but thinks the waiting period required by Prop J would cause problems. "It calls for an up to three-year potential delay before we can move on comprehensive changes to land development code, and our challenges are just too great," said Adler. "We don't have the luxury of waiting up to three years."

One thing both candidates agreed on was their disapproval of another ballot item, Proposition K. It calls for the city to pay for an outside audit to review how Austin spends taxpayer dollars.

Morrison believes integrating the city's values, versus just going the cheapest route is important. "I'm concerned that that would be lost in an efficiency audit from an outside firm, so I think we need to work that from the inside," said Morrison.

Mayor Adler agreed, saying our new city manager is already tasked with ensuring efficiency. "I don't see us spending $5 million to do it the way the proposition requires it be done," said Adler. "We can do it in a lot better, more effective way."

Other issues discussed included how to deal with Austin's transportation and affordability issues.

Audience members at the KLRU debate say it helped them become more informed about the candidates. "Gives me something to think about in terms of who I was originally going to vote for, and I may change my mind," said voter, Geri West.

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