Austin Mayor Steve Adler fulfills five campaign promises, breaks one

Austin Mayor Steve Adler, shown here in January 2016, made promises while seeking the city post. The Adler-O-Meter tracks progress on his promises (photo by Laura Skelding, Austin American-Statesman).
Austin Mayor Steve Adler, shown here in January 2016, made promises while seeking the city post. The Adler-O-Meter tracks progress on his promises (photo by Laura Skelding, Austin American-Statesman).

Steve Adler, Austin's mayor since early 2015, fulfilled five of 16 campaign promises in his first year in the job.

According to the PolitiFact Texas Adler-O-Meter, the mayor otherwise had a promise BROKEN, a promise STALLED and three promises rated IN THE WORKS.

Adler's promises KEPT concern his push, with Austin City Council colleagues, to challenge what critics claim has been an undervaluation of commercial properties for tax purposes, Adler's hiring of an education outreach coordinator--and his vows to ensure his staff and appointments reflect the city's demographics and that the 11-member council meet more frequently and devote its first 100 days to long-term issues.

Adler's promises IN THE WORKS take in council moves to make development permitting easier and Adler's calls to achieve a 20 percent across-the-board homestead property tax exemption and institutionalize pre-kindergarten for Austin toddlers. There was movement in each of these areas.

Adler's promise STALLED: His call to rework economic development incentives toward easing more workers toward higher-paying jobs. As of February 2016, Adler hadn't unveiled reforms related to incentives or workforce training, though Adler and Austin stakeholders had huddled through 2015, touching off talk of hard proposals ahead.

On his campaign website, Adler floated a vision for council members that in his first year as mayor did not play out. "Every new council member," Adler wrote, "should lead the entire council for a day in their district, allowing from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. They decide where we go, what we see, and who we talk with in their district."

Didn't happen, making this a promise BROKEN. Adler told us he stopped pushing the idea as it came clear that council members' calendars were full -- in part to new council-established committees -- without piling on his envisioned tours. "I have helped set up a system where the council members are spending and have spent a lot of time with each other," Adler said. "And I did that intentionally so that...we would all have a lot of time with each other to know each other as people, to build relationships with each, to understand where we are each coming from and what our priorities are."

Adler added that he was hesitant to add to the members' already heavy meeting loads by pushing for single days when everyone gathers in individual districts. "I haven't had the heart to go to this group and try to take away what little precious time they all have" to themselves, Adler said.

We have yet to rate action on half a dozen Adler promises including his vows to spark changes at city utilities to promote affordability; reinstate free Capital Metro fares for some passengers; limit city staff vacancies; look for surplus city property to sell; raise awareness of the city's music scene by throwing free concerts; and to include Asian languages in city communications. See each unrated promise here.

See the full Adler-O-Meter here.

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