Mayor Adler was sworn into office in January 2015 and has focused primarily on Austin’s growing affordability crisis and worsening traffic.
On affordability, Mayor Adler and the Council created a 6% homestead exemption in 2015 to provide a property tax break to homeowners, raising it to 8% in 2016. Under Adler, the Council also increased the senior and disabled property tax exemption to $82,500 and approved a settlement with Austin Energy in August 2016 that lowered electric rates for everyone in town. Also in August 2016, HUD Secretary Julián Castro recognized Mayor Adler for completing the Mayors’ Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.
On mobility, Mayor Adler convened a broad community coalition to win support of the Smart Corridor mobility bond before the Council in August 2016. In September 2016, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx named Austin one of the winners of the Mayors’ Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets. Austin, which won for its Smart Trips Austin program in the Rundberg neighborhood, is the Mayors’ Challenge Ladders of Opportunity (Large City) Award Winner.
Mayor Adler has received recognition for his innovative ideas and leadership. In Jun. 2016, the United States Conference of Mayors elected Mayor Adler to the Advisory Board. In August 2016, Mayor Adler was voted by mayors surveyed by POLITICO Magazine as the co-winner of the Rookie of the Year award. In September 2016, Living Cities included Mayor Adler on the list of 25 Disruptive Leaders (along with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, author Ta-Nehihi Coates, and actor Jesse Williams to mark that organization’s 25th anniversary. Also that month, his office’s application for a crowdsourced minibond campaign to save Austin’s iconic music venues was picked as one of five winners of the Neighborly Bonds Challenge.
He also delivered perhaps the most stirring defense of taco trucks in this country or any other in September 2016 some six months after ending the Great Breakfast Taco War with San Antonio without firing a shot.
He was born in Washington, D.C., to parents who worked hard so that he and his brother and sister could be the first in his family to go to college. His parents wanted them to have more opportunities than they had. His dad died when he was 21; his mother followed him six years later. But they are with Mayor Adler today, every day, and they have always served as motivation to make sure others have the opportunities they gave him.
He later attended Princeton and then UT Law School on scholarships and part-time jobs. Within 45 minutes of first arriving in Austin, he was swimming in Barton Springs, and he was hooked.
After law school, he devoted much of his practice to civil rights law. He defended workers and women facing discrimination and sexual harassment – hard workers who were being denied equal pay for equal work. When he won in court for Hispanic construction workers, they won the chance to operate the heavy equipment. That meant they could earn the higher pay and promotions they deserved.
Later, Mayor Adler became chief of staff and general counsel for State Senator Eliot Shapleigh doing public policy and learning governance, fighting for increased public school funding, higher teacher salaries and greater environmental protections.
For over 20 years, he worked with and chaired many of Austin’s large civic and non-profit boards. He has fought discrimination and promoted the benefits of diversity as chair of the Anti-Defamation League. As board chair of the Texas Tribune, he helped build a business model for the thoughtful, factual and independent media Texas needs. He has worked to expand opportunity for girls, women and first-generation college students as a board member of GEN-Austin and Breakthrough. At the Long Center and as chair of Ballet Austin, he helped ensure that all our communities have access to the arts.
Throughout his career, he defended renters and landowners when the government or big corporations were unfairly taking their property. He spent a lifetime fighting for equity, access, fairness and opportunity. He protected working families, small businesses and women from discrimination and abuse. He defended families in the Blacklands neighborhood on the east side of I-35 when the University of Texas was expanding. He defended small and large businesses of all kinds across the state, over a dozen churches, and environmental organizations — and he has seen that the government does not always work for everyone. That is why he works hard every day to ensure that our city government works for all of us in Austin.
He invites you to contact his office with your questions, comments and ideas.