Apr 20

Why I’m Supporting Brewster McCracken for Mayor of Austin

I am backing Brewster McCracken for mayor because I feel he listens to small business leaders here in town. Local politics has always seemed like a drag-out fight between real estate moguls and total hippies, so I find refreshing that someone is willing to listen to a sector of people who positively affect both.

I’m not big into local politics, but I do believe that Austin can take two paths in this digital age. We can sit back and ride the tide, or we can do what we can to become leaders in this space. We need a leader who understands this though.

I’ve traveled in four countries in less than six months and have been to renown web conferences in Europe and in the U.S. We compare ourselves too often to the Valley. Here in Austin, I can get wifi at a Pita Pit or at a baseball game. In Paris or Toronto, I struggled to get internet anywhere and I often had to pay for it. People don’t value or understand “geeks” in most places around the world. As unexcited as people are about technology, they use it and will continue to use it though. Austin is in a good position but we need to advance that position if we want to grow. Software solves problems, and there are tons of problems out there. Most places didn’t advance during the tech boom like we did and aren’t equipped to emerge the way we can.

As quickly as this tech boom came to us, it can go away. The world is competitive and cruel. If you think Austin and Silicon Valley are the only places where software is being built, you are wrong. Places like Estonia, India, the Ukraine, all over the world, people are building software. While you are bootstrapping, networking, and patting yourselves on the back for being a “progressive”, these hungry communities are building applications that the world is using. You can build an application only to see it squashed by the same app that was architected by someone in the UK, constructed by someone in Latvia, and sold for half the price. Austin is progressive, but the world is big and doesn’t care about you. You are just another city that people often consider nice to visit.

This is harsh, but it just means we need a leader who actually listens to the tech community because although we often don’t realize it, our feedback is incredibly valuable and vital to the Austin economy. We need a leader who wants to expand other industries like the biotech, energy, and film sectors too, because a diversified economy is much more recession-proof. We depend on each other, believe it or not. Brewster McCracken is listening to the leaders in these communities and we need to make sure he’s elected.

Lee Leffingwell wants to focus on key city services like roads, police, etc. That’s great, but I’m sorry, the tech industry is getting more and more competitive each day. Do we want a leader who isn’t really paying attention to this stuff, or do we want someone who will actually foster relationships with business leaders to make Austin a global leader in technology, biotech, energy, music and film?

If you are with me, please consider the following actions:
1.) Remember to vote on May 9th.
2.) Express your ideas for Austin at www.ideasforaustin.com and encourage others to do the same.
3.) Consider volunteering for Brewster. You can keep up by subscribing to the email, Twitter, and Facebook updates available at Brewster’s website.

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  • http://www.twitter.com/joeyTWOwheels Joe Doyle

    Great insight, Michelle.

    I like Brewster – if for just his name alone (hard to follow Wil Wynn in that regards). But I haven't made any decisions yet as I've yet to start the research. It'll be interesting to see how all the candidates stack up against the other issues that are important to me.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.rightsideoftech.com Russ

    I don't understand what he will be doing other than "supporting" technology. Great article but can you provide specific reasons to support him?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michellegreer michellegreer

    Russ,

    Here is information straight from Brewster's website:
    http://www.brewstermccracken.com/about/seven-step

  • Sherry Lowry

    Michelle, really helpful post.

    I'm like the "sound" of Brewster's agenda. What's his track record when it really comes down to taking a public and visible stand when push comes to shove on commercial development priorities (as in asphalting and concretizing Austin and supporting yet one more mid-rise, high priced residential piece of construction) — over high tech and small business development support?

    Also – i want to see changes in how challenging Austin makes it for retail or other type of small business build-outs generating revenues that stay HERE to get the code approvals. As it is now, it seems mainly those who can hire the city-hall experienced to get their stuff through all the regulations get the big breaks going to the big box entities and corporate headquarters and things like The Domain.

    Mostly, i think many, many of us seek no more "business as usual" being the rule of thumb here politically.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michellegreer michellegreer

      Various people in the tech community have Brewster's ear. Honestly, that's the first step. We didn't offer Brewster money–we just know what's good for the economy and for Austin, so he wanted to hear what we had to say.

      If we foster the international, money-making industries, the small companies will come to accommodate their tastes. If you look at New York and San Francisco, they are not lacking in small businesses whatsoever.

      Personally, I like the idea of always living downtown. I hate traffic and actually take my bike whenever possible. So although I wasn't a fan at first, I don't mind the high rises downtown. They are good for traffic and for the environment.

      And if for some strange reason Brewster decides we aren't important anymore and accommodates no one but the developers, I will crucify him brutally and publicly. I don't see this happening, but the option is there. Don't think I haven't launched a social media Google bomb before ;-)

  • http://www.twitter.com/wesley83 Wesley Faulkner

    I am so glad you wrote this.

  • http://www.referralkey.com/ Chris O.

    Greetings from Boston. Being attentive to small businesses is key for any elected official right now.

    best,

    Chris O.
    Referral Key
    “Your Trusted Referral Network”
    http://www.referralkey.com/