(Community Matters) A long time friend who’s an important community leader wrote asking me to explain why I’m backing Brewster over Lee for mayor. My response:
Why am I supporting Brewster for mayor over Lee? It’s about leadership, vision, ambition and courage. I’ll admit right off that Lee has the fourth attribute in abundance. I’ve appreciated his willingness to support what he believed to be the right position even knowing that it might disappoint friends and supporters.
So, the latter of the four qualities, they both possess. And, I believe Brewster is the runaway winner on the first three.
Some people say (especially his opponents’ paid team) Brewster is at a disadvantage in building council coalitions. This isn’t true. Look at his record of passing important City of Austin initiatives. And, I’ve spoken with several of the other council members who agree Brewster has and can bring together votes to pass ordinances. Whether he’s a bit brusque or less than warm at times doesn’t prioritize for me. This isn’t my experience, but I hear it cited. Nevertheless, I think the test of whether you’d most like to have a beer with someone has – thankfully – finally, lost credibility.
Vision – you’re an insider. I know you have a good perspective on this. Lee’s smart, deliberate and thoughtful, and vision hasn’t been his strong suit. I agree that during the last 3 weeks, his campaign is putting out talking points and positions which give him more depth in this arena. These have also been crafted after potentially disastrous statements about retrading our economic development contracts with major employers and not recruiting new major employers – fortunately, both since retracted. Brewster’s vision (& leadership bringing together collaborative partners) is prodigious.
Ambition. I’ve come to look for this in good leaders with very tough times ahead – think it comes from working so closely with entrepreneurs the last 26 years. You’re one; you know. Sometimes that drive for self fulfillment through success and advancement is the only thing that can keep you in the race despite pessimism all around and/or when you feel emotionally and physically exhausted. Wouldn’t work (for good of community anyway) if it wasn’t coupled with an impassioned ambition to make things better for our communities. And, I think you and I agree there isn’t any debate about the good motives of either Brewster or Lee. I do have questions about Lee’s ambition and drive – heck, he had to be drafted into the race for mayor. How sustainable is his drive and will he work for us 24/7?
I know you’ve been disappointed by Brewster’s votes at times. And, I realize you and others feel betrayed by the Lowe’s vote for instance. So you know, I think this represented pragmatism over what we all might (Brewster included) have preferred. It was never that Brewster wanted to support Lowe’s over protecting the aquifer or supporting friends to whom he pledged support on this issue – quite the opposite. But, he was convinced (and advised by city and other attorneys) that it was an unwinnable court battle that would cost the city millions and that we’d still lose. Lee’s made the same call several times, and, yes, I know you’ve voiced equal disappointment and anger toward him. I value their bottom-line-realistic pragmatism over ideology, when the latter is unwinnable. The city’s needs are too many and financial resources too scarce to pour them into battles we can’t win. I’m all for going to the mat when it’s do or die, however.
I don’t doubt where either candidates’ heart lies. Brewster is still committed to as green, as dense, as affordable and as economically vibrant a caring community as you and me. I support Brewster for mayor because he’s the best candidate to help us preserve AND enhance Austin’s quality of life.