Mayor Pro Tem and my colleagues on the Council, Manager Cronk, distinguished guests, and fellow Austinites:
Before I begin, I want to thank Consul General Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez of Mexico for introducing me this evening.
People don’t realize that how closely we are working together these days. It hasn’t always been so. Used to be we saw each other only at happy occasions, like at Casa Mexico during SXSW.
Times have changed, and so has our relationship. I want to tell you something that not many people know. When the immigration raids began earlier last year and Austin was made a particular target, we had no reliable access to information except what we got from my friend, the Consul General. At that moment, we found ourselves in common cause in service of this city — and all of its people.
That bond was strengthened when Hurricane Harvey looked like it was headed right at us. His government immediately offered shelter to any Texan who might need it.
You and your wife were in our local shelters tending to all our guests. Again and again, my friend, you demonstrate that you care about people – all people – yours, mine, and ours.
Consul General Gonzalez Gutierrez, you are my partner in some of the biggest challenges facing our two countries. Tonight, I pledge to you not only continued brotherhood and friendship, but continued vigilance in our efforts on immigration.
We want our neighbors in Austin to be safe regardless of who they are or where they came from. We know preserving trust makes us the safest big city in the state. We will not use fear to divide our community. Consul General, you can count on Austin.
So let’s begin… Now, more than ever, I value opportunities for us to take stock of a year’s progress and to measure ourselves against the needs of the future.
In these turbulent times, we must deliberately and seriously speak and act in a way true to who we are. Our city continues to face formidable challenges. We cannot pretend we don’t see them. We need to act and to plan for what the future will bring.
The question you should be asking is whether your Council has the will to seize the moment and to act on the scale of our challenges. The answer to that question, when you look back a year and look ahead a year, is “yes.”
Ten years from now… twenty years from now… a new generation of Austinites will ask us what we did, at this time of great risk, to preserve and protect the magic of Austin. This is our moment.
We must act with our eyes focused clearly on the future. Continue reading
We went into 2017 focused on addressing mobility and affordability, and we did get a lot done on both fronts as you can see below. What we weren’t fully expecting, however, was the degree to which we would have to defend Austin’s values on climate change, refugee resettlement, racial equity, immigration, and feminism, among many other subjects. When the Mayor said in his State of the City Address, delivered at the beginning of 2017, that the “world can completely lose its mind but we’re still gonna be Austin, Texas,” he had no way of knowing how accurately that would predict what 2017 had in store or how our city would respond.
We’re still Austin, Texas, and we’re getting better at it all the time.
Here are actions taken by the City and/or by City Council (not just the Mayor): Continue reading
Mayoral Roundtable Remarks
C40 North American Climate Summit
Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017
Addressing climate change through transportation policy in Austin is thinking globally but acting locally. Preserving our environment is a big priority in Austin. It’s huge. But most Austinites, stuck in rush hour traffic every day, will tell you traffic is the most immediate, in-your-face challenge.
As big as that traffic challenge is, our climate protection goals are even bigger. We want to achieve net-zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Getting there will require very directed and deliberate action. We’ve begun the process of closing our only coal plant and that will help. But we’re going to need to reduce our transportation carbon footprint if we’re going to make a big difference fighting climate change. Continue reading