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Steve Adler's Goal: Turn Austin into Social Innovator for the World

Joy Diaz, KUT News

  Steve Adler is Austin's new mayor. He easily defeated city councilman Mike Martinez in Tuesday's runoff election. But, even though Adler appeared to be the favorite in recent polls, he wasn't always expected to win this race.

There was a time when Mike Martinez was clearly the front-runner. The former firefighter was possibly the most influential city council member and the head of the city's transportation authority. That's why many believed he was poised to become the city's 2nd Hispanic to be elected mayor.

At his election party, however, something gloomy was in the air. The mood was anything but celebratory, until Martinez himself showed up and screamed: "this is supposed to be a party!" At that point, the bar cranked up the music and Martinez started mingling with his supporters.

Credit Joy Diaz, KUT News
The Election Day Party for Mike Martinez was almost deserted. He was the front runner for a while and had good name recognition. But, Steve Adler prevailed and is now Austin's new mayor.

One by one embraced him. They gave him sympathetic looks, the kind given to someone who is clearly in pain.

Martinez tried to stay positive. He said, he'd still be a part of Austin. That this is a city he deeply loves. And that when he conceded, he offered Steve Adler to be as helpful as possible.

In East Austin, Steve Adler celebrated with a couple hundred supporters. To the sound of the song "happy," Adler, who many of his supporters call "the mediator," said having Martinez on his side sounds like a great idea because "he's a smart guy and he has lots of ideas and he's been involved with the city for a long time. So, I'm excited."

The brand new city council will be formed of mostly political new-comers. That's something Adler believes will help accomplish the goal he's set for the city. He wants Austin to be known, not just as "The live music capital of the world", but also "as the city that was the social innovator for the world."

The new council already includes a couple of social innovations. It will be lead by a majority of women, and the largest number of minorities ever. The council gets sworn in this coming January.

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.