Editor’s note: This is one in a series of profiles on the Austin mayoral race.
When he ran for Austin mayor in 2014, Todd Phelps eventually dropped out and endorsed now-incumbent mayor Steve Adler’s campaign, a decision he said he now regrets.
“I was asked to endorse the mayor, which I did,” Phelps said. “However, at this point I regret endorsing him because he did not follow through on the 20 percent property tax homestead exemption … one of the main and only tools we have at the city level to provide property tax relief to homeowners in the city.”
Phelps, who is running on a platform of fiscal responsibility and supporting local businesses, said small business owners asked him to run because they felt they were being pushed out of town by rising property taxes and high rents. He said the recent closing announcement from Threadgill’s, a restaurant and music venue on Riverside Drive, is one example.
“I’ve played that music venue,” Phelps said. “I’ve been a musician in this town for 20 years. I’ve also worked in the commercial lending industry, so I understand the development community and I understand what makes Austin, Austin. I also understand that Adler is killing our brand by pushing out all of these music venues and iconic places in town and has not given any type of relief to them.”
Phelps said addressing public transportation is a paramount issue for the city. He said he would like to see improvements made to Austin’s existing roads and public transportation.
“I’d like to see an above-ground transit system that’s smart, that can move large numbers of people above ground with GPS technology,” Phelps said. “We need to reach out to some visionaries, guys like Elon Musk. Austin is better than a subway system, Austin is better than light rail.”