Full Stiehm ahead; Mayor says 4th term will be his lastPublished 11:42am Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Mayor Tom Stiehm will preside over Austin for another, and final, four years.
Stiehm handily crushed opponent Dick Lang by a margin of almost 2-to-1, as Stiehm captured 6,465 votes to Lang’s 3,551, or about 63.8 percent to Lang’s 35.1 percent of total votes cast.
For Stiehm, that wide of a margin tells him people approve of the city’s business as usual.
“When you get  percent of the vote, it tells you the people agree with the way things are going,” he said.
Stiehm said his victory mean people wanted to continue using the city’s provided services without cutting programs, and it will be the city’s mission over the next four years to “fight like crazy to keep taxes the same, but at the same time, not cut services.”
“The real question is getting people their money’s worth,” Stiehm said. “You don’t mind paying taxes if you feel your taxes are being spent properly.”
Wednesday morning, Lang said he would continue to fight for lowering taxes and keeping spending in check, despite his loss. He also thanked his supporters and expressed his good wishes for Stiehm.
“I think everything will go fine,” he said. “The best luck to everyone elected.”
This election will most likely be Stiehm’s last as mayor. He said his upcoming term would “probably” be his last one, though he would still like to be involved in city affairs through other elected positions, even as a City Council member.
“You have kind of a shelf life, and there’s too many other people out there with too many good ideas to hog [the mayor’s office] up all the time,” he said.
Yet that doesn’t mean Stiehm will be ineffective as the executive officer of the city. He will still preside over council meetings and will still assist in city affairs where he can. Many of the issues Stiehm first dealt with when he was elected in 2006 appear to have been diminished or taken care of, whether it be the city’s rapid expansion or the town’s diversity.
“There’s all kinds of issues going on now,” he said. “Immigration doesn’t seem to be the big issue that it was six years ago … everything is really going good right now.”
To that end, Stiehm said it will be up to City Council members to wrangle with its budget in the face of decreasing aid from the state. According to Stiehm, about 48 percent of the city’s budget comes from Local Government Aid, which has either been frozen or minimally increased over the past 10 years. With state aid drying up, it will be up to the city to come up with ways to keep Austin services strong.
“If that number goes down, how are we going to make it up?” Stiehm said. “Hopefully it’s not going to happen.”
In addition, Stiehm hopes the recent construction boom in town will lead to better jobs in the community, which would help alleviate poverty-related issues for residents.
“We need good jobs in Austin, instead of $8 an hour, $9 an hour jobs,” he said. “When you see things like The Hormel Institute expanding, those are good jobs. Those are excellent jobs.”
|* incumbent||6 of 6 precincts reporting|