Print E-mail
(5 votes, average 4.20 out of 5)

Steve Adler Launches Mayoral Campaign

Big crowd turns out on a hot day to hear
what the little known candidate would do

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2014
Part 3 in a series
Posted Monday, May 5, 2012 11:08am
Updated May 5, 2014 9:50pm (to add a transcript of Adler’s recorded speech)

Steve Adler and supporters onstage at his campaign kickoff May 4.Steve Adler and supporters onstage at his campaign kickoff May 4.The shaded concrete bleachers at the City Hall plaza were filled with supporters of 58-year-old attorney Stephen Ira “Steve” Adler, who’s not well known outside the numerous nonprofit organizations that he’s assisted and led. The open-air plaza was likewise populated by fans standing in the 92-degree hot sun and enjoying treats from Amy’s Ice Cream.

Adler, who’s widely known for being soft-spoken, was nevertheless forceful in delivering a 22-minute speech that touched on most every major area of concern and sometimes varied from Steve Adler’s Scripted Campaign Kickoff Speech that was shared with the press during the event. (For a more accurate account of his speech, listen to the recording linked near the bottom of this article.)

Adler did not address his main political opponents by name, those being declared candidate Mike Martinez and possible candidate Sheryl Cole, both of whom have served on the Austin City Council since 2006.

But he took a backhanded swipe at both, near the end of his speech, when he said, “Others have had the chance over the last eight years (the length of time that Martinez and Cole have been in office) to address the very same challenges we face today. It is time for new leadership.

“We don’t want experience in how things have been done in the past; we need a new and broader experience and a vision for how things should be done tomorrow.”

In telling his life story Adler noted that his father died when he was 21 and his mother followed six years later. He attended both Princeton University and the University of Texas Law School on scholarships, he said, and chose the latter “because it was the cheapest law school in the country.”

He expressed gratitude for the iconic Barton Springs Pool by saying he had dipped into its cool, clear water within 45 minutes of arriving in Austin (that being the summer of 1978).

Adler noted his years of service for then State Senator Eliot Shapleigh (D-El Paso), his work as a civil rights lawyer after graduation from law school, and his leadership in numerous nonprofit organizations (all of which were detailed in Part 2 of this series).

“Throughout my career, I have defended renters and landowners when the government or big corporations were unfairly taking their property,” Adler said. “I’ve defended small and large business of all kinds across the state, over a dozen churches, and the Texas Nature Conservancy—and I’ve seen that the government doesn’t always work for everyone. That’s why I’ll work hard every day to ensure that our city government works for all of us in Austin.”

Growth and challenges

Mayor (Lee) Leffingwell promised to jumpstart the economy and create jobs,” Adler said. “He did. And we owe him a debt of gratitude. But now we must deal with the challenges that growth brings.”

Among the challenges he named were traffic congestion, increased poverty, and floods. Also education, affordability, and protecting the environment and neighborhoods.

“To meet our challenges we need a new way forward,” Adler said. “That’s why I'm running for mayor.”

“It’s appropriate that today we meet in front of City Hall,” Adler said. “Soon, the whole city takes over this building. Today marks the beginning of the citizens’ council. We will have new communities and new leaders sitting at the council table in that building for the first time.

“Together we’ll chart a new way forward,” Adler said. “We will focus on common goals rather than what divides us.”

Family and supporters

Sarah, Susan and Karen, daughters of Steve Adler and Diane LandSarah, Susan and Karen, daughters of Steve Adler and Diane LandAdler was introduced with brief speeches from each of his three daughters, Sarah, Susan, and Karen; by nonprofit executive directors Cookie Ruiz of Ballet Austin and Julia Cuba of GENaustin (Girls Empowerment Network), and by the former Senator Shapleigh.

He closed his speech by introducing and embracing his wife, Diane Land, founder, president and CEO of DT Land Group Inc.

Among the notable people in the audience to support Adler, interviewed before the speech, were Kerry Tate, founder of the Tate Austin public relations firm and now a partner at Moore-Tate Projects + Design LLC and a founding partner at Civic Interest LLC.

Kerry TateKerry TateTate said she had collaborated with Adler when he worked on education issues during legislative sessions and said of Adler, “He’s smart as a whip.”

Tate said she had been trying to recruit good candidates to run for mayor when in January she heard from Eugene Sepulveda, Adler’s campaign treasurer, that Adler was going to run.

She said she thinks Adler’s experience as an attorney will be valuable in the mayor’s role “because he understands land use and will have the city as a client.”

Gerald DaughertyGerald DaughertyPrecinct 3 Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, a Republican, also attended.

“I’m ready for a change, to give a guy a shot who's been a business guy,” Daugherty. “One of the problems we’ve got is we can’t get business-minded people involved. Some of my party are against government in general,” he said. “... most people want to see some changes.”

Newfound interest in city politics

Adler’s praise for the “citizens’ council” that will be implemented by the mayor and council members elected under the new 10-1 system is remarkable but in fact constitutes a profound shift in his political focus: from the state to the local.

After all, he cut his political teeth working as Senator Shapleigh’s chief of staff and general counsel in the legislative sessions of 1997-2005.

To be sure he has been deeply involved in important local issues through the various nonprofit organizations detailed in Part 2 of this series.

And, in Part 1, Adler praised the 10-1 system and said he voted its passage.

But examination of the contribution and expenditure reports filed by Austinites for Geographic Representation—the grassroots coalition that petitioned to get the measure on the ballot in November 2012—indicate that Adler did not contribute any money to assist the campaign in winning voter approval.

Further, since 2009, Adler and Land contributed just $2,200 to city council incumbents, $1,400 of which went to the failed 2011 reelection campaign of Council Member Randi Shade. (See Stephen Adler and Diane Land Political Contributions Reported by City Council Candidates 2009-2012.)

Adler and Land contributed nothing to the mayoral elections of 2009 and 2012, not to Lee Leffingwell or Brewster McCracken in 2009, and not to Leffingwell or Brigid Shea in 2012, according to a review of the contribution and expenditure reports filed by those mayoral candidates.

Adler’s relative disinterest in Austin politics is all the more remarkable, given his generous support for statewide issues.

Over a four-year period, while Adler served on the organization’s board of directors, he and Land contributed $75,050 to the nonprofit Texas Tribune, which covers state politics, state government, and state policy.

And Adler and Diane Land contributed nearly $87,000 to state issues and politicians from 2000 through 2013. (See Stephen Adler and Diane Land Contributions Recorded by Texas Ethics Commission.)

Link to recordingSteve Adler’s Campaign Kickoff Speech Recording

Transcription of recordingTranscript of Steve Adler’s Recorded Campaign Kickoff Speech

Related Bulldog coverage:

What’s Steve Adler Done for Austin? This mayoral candidate has given significant time, energy, and money to numerous important causes, May 1, 2014

Steve Adler Wants to Be Mayor: He views the 10-1 system as a gift and an opportunity to restart, revitalize city government, April 23, 2014



-4 #1 Reverend Ira L Lewis 2014-05-07 08:39
Being informed by The Austin Bulldog about Steve Adler was an attorney on the side of Eminant Domain, here in Austin Texas is enough proof that he is a representative of big real estate ventures and not a representative that reverantly understand the History of Austin. As a six generation Texan, born and raised in the Original East Austin (nicknamed The Negro District) which created by White Supremacy control of our City Government that wanted to make sure that The African American (former Slaves coming out of the Slave Era) would be continued in SEGREGATION by the enforcement of migrating to what is today, East Austin. Boundaries, on the west (Red River/East Avenue, now I35); on the north City Cemetery/19th Street, now Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard); on the south (the Colorado River); and as far east as The Slave/Negro/Afr ican American can go. I born almost in the bed of my Mother's brother (Willie Ray Davis/first Black fireman in Texas) pickup bed; but they were able to get her to Holy Cross Hospital, just a few blocks away from his home and landlord duplex where my Dad and Mother lived (2208 E. 18th in the rear). My flesh, blood, soul, and spirit is in the Original East Austin. And to see people like Steve Adler fraudulently use the sovereign governing instrument of eminant domain to criminally force the seed of the African American former Slaves out of that area is vicious to my spirit. What have already been violently done to destroy our ancestral legacy of the Original East Austin, I will civily fight against the continuance of it. I have already filed a lawsuit/complai nt against the outlaw governing of the City of Austin about it and I will carry that further. What have already happened is our (the seed of the Original Settling of the African American, former Slaves) fault, due to ignorance of being miseducated of our sovereign historical rights as certified citizens of the United States of America, which Texas is the 28th State of that sovereignty. As a sovereign U.S. citizen, my ancestral lineage goes back more than 9 generations. By the end of The Revolutionary War, every 7th soldier was African American and we are equal to our European American, whom we fought with to defeat The British. I don't the European White to VALIDATE me, my sovereign citizenship and God's creation have done that... Reverend Ira L Lewis - Austin, Texas - twice Honorable Discharged Disabled Navy Veteran - Licensced/Ordai ned minister of The Gospel
-4 #2 Reverend Ira L Lewis 2014-05-07 08:58
Reverend Ira L Lewis, continued... Licensed/Ordain ed Minister of the Gospel of Jesus, The Christ (the Living Word of God) and His Father, our God, The Lord. We don't need a swindler as Steve Adler, who will be the fox in the hen house for big real estate developers, and corrupt continuance of the White influenced City Government and White influenced University of Texas. As I tell Washington, DC, the bottom 20% of the U.S. population pay more taxes into the U.S. Treasury of our TAXSURPLUS, than the top 1 - 10%ers; because they are always looking for loopholes to avoid paying their fair share; they outsource American jobs to low wage paying countries and ship the goods back to America, to sell to us at 500+ percent; they give false addresses of offshore lands for their business headquarters to prevent paying their fair share of taxes; they send their lobbyists to our governing houses to politically prostitute our representatives to write or endorse the policies that they write to gain billions/trilli ons of dollars of our tax dollars in subsidies, then hide in offshore unregulated bank accounts where it cannot be touched; they do all they can to keep living wages down, that most Americans cannot live the American Dream which President Eisenhower WARNED us about at his departure from the Presidency; they have greatly attempted to destroy our public entitlements, claiming that we want FREE STUFF, when really what BIG GOVERNMENT mean is the less we get from the tax surplus that we put into for the entitlements that are ours as our RIGHT, NOT A PRIVILEGE; then it enable them to have more to STEAL. Romney said that corporations ARE PEOPLE; well The Bible/The Word of God says... AND AS IT IS APPOINTED UNTO MEN ONCE TO DIE, BUT AFTER THIS THE JUDGMENT (Hebrews 9:27). Well, tell Romney to tell me how a child be born of their Mother and a corporation? DON'T POUR PEE DOWN MY BACK AND TELL ME ITS RAIN... Reverend Ira L Lewis - Austin, Texas - @trirasonrock - - 512-221-2610
+3 #3 Editor 2014-05-07 09:18
Re: #1 & #2 Reverend Ira L. Lewis:
Obviously you have strong opinions and you have expressed them here with great passion. But it is unfair and incorrect to allege that Steve Adler is “a swindler” or to claim that he is somehow responsible for the ills that historically have been visited upon African Americans, or to associate him with the other corrupt practices you allege. Please keep the conversation civil and restrict your comments to the qualifications of this candidate, as you perceive them.
-4 #4 Reverend Ira L Lewis 2014-05-07 11:00
Mr. Martin, as I stated in the private column of your blog was the fact that you introduced what Steve Adler law practice specialty is (EMINANT DOMAIN). As a 63 year old native East Austinite, I know what devastating things that have been done to the native East Ausint (The Negro District) and what is transpiring today, in East Austin. You take the mural painted on side of the Victory Grill building of Black persuasion, that is an insult when the proprietary activity/profit ting have been takenover by Whites; the City of Austin Historical emblem that is still on the front of the Rowsen Community Center (Black Community Center)in the deadend circle of Angelina Street, yet, the City aloud a White private resident to take ownership of the building and moved a fake Black Community Center, up at 22nd and Chicon Streets; the little fake Black figures attached to the black iron fencing at 12th and Chicon Streets in the attempt to fake a Black community area; along with the pictures at the southeast corner bus stop of Black businesses that once was at the well known named EAST END. These little gestures are a arrogant blatant sufficing of the White Supremacy conscience for knowing that they criminally violated what the U.S. Department of Justice instructed the City of Austin Historical Commission, Travis County, and the Texas Historical Commission were not to disturb in Historical African American/Black East Austin. So, the White Supremacy ideology, in the attempt to satisfy their conscience, put up these little Black artifacts in the fake saying that we (the African Americans/Black s) were once there. Why do you think, that the Black newspaper office of The Villager is no longer at Rosewood Avenue and San Bernard Street; but now moved way out at East 12th Street and Springdale Road; I have yet to know where The NOKOA have moved to that was once at Rosewood Avenue and Angelina Street. The City of Austin (White Supremacist ideology controlled) think that they are going to demolish the Rosewood Government Housing at Rosewood Avenue and Chicon Street, but there will be a great lawsuit against the City about that. So, when you introduced Steve Adler as a eminant domain law practice specialty, well any common sense person know what that mean behind the secrecy of doors; but not publicly known. DON'T POUR PEE DOWN MY BACK AND TELL ME ITS RAIN... Reverend Ira L Lewis, continued.
+2 #5 Editor 2014-05-07 12:53
Re: #4 Reverend Ira L. Lewis:

You are using this space as a means to vent about a number of grievances accumulated over a lifetime of living in East Austin and you are certainly entitled to your opinions about the situations you described. But none of what you have said is related to Steve Adler and his candidacy for mayor.

Yes, he is indeed an attorney who specializes in eminent domain cases but please note that he represents landowners whose property is being seized by the government through its power of eminent domain. He is not an agent of the government that is seizing property.

If you want to criticize Adler in this space then do so but please restrict your criticism to Adler’s own conduct--not for the actions of others in which he played no part.
-1 #6 David Venhuizen 2014-05-08 12:10
Interesting perspective, that political interest, much less expertise, is measured solely by the amount of, or lack of, campaign contributions. Now THERE is something that is wrong with our system.
+2 #7 Editor 2014-05-08 12:31
Re: #6 David Venhuizen:

It would be wrong to say that one’s political interest is measured "solely" by the amount of, or lack of, political contributions. But it does provide an important indicator, as how we spend our money is a reflection of our values and interests.

Only registered users may post a comment. Please register or login to share your comments.