Another mayoral candidate

I'm traveling today, so I'm going to restrict myself to a couple quick reactions to news reported by my colleagues in local media.

Doug Greco declares for mayor: Greco, the former director of Austin Interfaith, the progressive coalition of religious orgs, throws his hat in the ring, joining Kathie Tovo, Carmen Llanes Pulido and (presumably) Mayor Kirk Watson.

I don't know Greco, but his candidacy appears to be down-the-line progressive-populist. In a way, he is filling a void for a style of progressive politics that is familiar to people who follow state or national politics: organized labor, social welfare programs, etc.

Yes, Tovo and Llanes Pulido may support those things too, but their focus tends to be on a brand of politics that is unique to local government, particularly the debate over managing growth.

Here is Greco's one reference to land use on his website:

This agenda includes solving homelessness, building affordable housing, investing in rental assistance, and ensuring any land-use code changes benefit working people and not private equity firms.”

Hmm...If there are certain land use policies that benefit working people but not private equity firms, he should be more specific. Does Houston's lack of zoning make it more appealing to private equity investors? Hardly. Private equity firms have been buying up single-family housing stock around the country. Is that evidence that single-family zoning benefits private equity?

It is nice to see a mayoral candidate mention rental assistance, though.

Project Connect squashes hope for Crestview extension: The Austin Transit Partnership dashed hopes that the initial light rail line will extend to the Crestview Station.

The agency’s so-called “priority extensions” – wished-for add-ons to reach Austin-Bergstrom International Airport or the Crestview Red Line Station – are not being studied as part of the federal environmental process. The decision means the per-mile cost could settle around $500 million – near the high end for light-rail systems in the U.S.

That's a bummer. Getting the route up to Crestview would have significantly boosted projected ridership.

In the next week, I plan to speak with ATP officials about Project Connect and try to get a sense of the costs.