Laura Pressley, Ph.D. “For the Health of Austin”
On January 20, following a month of suspense and speculation (and serious worry among all three incumbents), Dr. Laura Pressley announced that she will oppose Mike Martinez for the Place 2 seat on the Austin City Council. In taking on Martinez, who until last May also held the position of Mayor Pro Tem, Pressley will be challenging an antiquated tradition – held together by a “gentlemen’s agreement” since the 1970’s – that designates Place 2 the “Hispanic seat.” There is no legal force behind this custom and in fact, it has been broken before. But the pressure remains strong. Pressley is unfazed. “I don’t think he’s been doing a very good job of representing the Hispanic population,” she told a TV reporter in a recent interview. Many in Austin’s Hispanic/Latino community agree: Pressley has the support of numerous prominent leaders there.
Martinez, a former firefighter, has done a good job of supporting the fire and police forces, which is commendable. But the “gentlemen’s agreement” doesn’t reserve a seat for a fireman or a police officer. Martinez, in theory, is there to represent his ethnic group. There’s little sign that he does. Gentrification that leads to flight of less affluent citizens is a problem on Austin’s rapidly upscaling east side – the heart of the barrio. Martinez is on the wrong side of that issue. He is in the process of building a McMansion in a far east location, a formerly affordable of neighborhood of small, unassuming houses. The spot already harbors a cluster of other bloated spanking new McMansions. It’s only a matter of time.
Laura Pressley’s campaign slogan is “for the health of Austin” – and that includes environmental and economic as well as personal health. She can be expected to fight very hard for these principles – and for everyone. Learn more at her campaign website.
Mike Martinez’ New East Side House (white strip a left beyond orange Port-O-Potty is roof of house next door)