Officials leave office after years of service

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, January 1, 2011

John Martin, Ward 3 Councilman

Q: What are your thoughts as you leave office?

A: Wow, what a long strange trip it’s been! One step forward and two steps backward.

Q: Are there any current issues or projects you wish you could have been a part of in the future?

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A: Budget control. There is so much “protectionism” that goes on behind closed doors that for decades I had “heard” about. However, until you actually get a front row seat you really have no idea!

Q: Why did you first run for office? Did you think you would serve this long?

A: To experience it firsthand and see if the decades of rumors had any validity. Yes.

Q: How has the community changed since you first took office?

A: The citizens of Austin started to come to meetings and feel empowered and that they DO matter, then the protectionism, lack of accountability, personal agendas, power and control struggles within department(s), then business as usual came flooding back in, nothing changes.

Q: What are some memories of your time serving the county/city?

A: The learning curve is wild, then add my animated personality to the curve and I had FUN! I loved how and they still do the “good old boys club” talk their double speak as if they have “the citizens” of Austin believing the typical politician double speak, they don’t realize that the citizens of Austin are NOT buying all that bull!

Q: What is your proudest achievement looking back over your years of service?

A: I listened to our firefighters (and citizens) I never stopped, I stood my ground on holding their boss accountable when for 16 years other councils ignored the problem, candy coated it or just swept it under the rug and continued with their DENIAL of the fact there was a huge problem and a solution should have been expedited years before me. I kept at it when the council had a change of persons during the election of 2008 and I’m thankful for those who also realized there was a problem and we needed to make the change in leadership that we did; yes, Austin, you are welcome.

Q: What is the most difficult project or obstacle you encountered?

A: The consistent lack of transparency.

Q: If you could go back and do anything differently, would you? What would it be?

A: Yes, I would not vote the way I did in regards to the new jail. Council almost decided to go it just a city jail and let the county do their own thing. I think we as a council should have done that to this day.

Q: What do you plan to do now that you’re no longer serving the community as an elected official?

A: Be a citizen and still expect transparency from all our government officials along with financial accountability. Fight for the agriculture industry in this state and country to allow industrial hemp to be grown as a cash crop. Now more than ever our economy needs this widely ignored and contested CASH crop. You cannot get high by smoking or eating it. Every other industrialized nation in the world grows it and it creates a tax base, jobs and much needed environmentally friendly products for market. Remember during WWII the government created what they called a tax stamp for growing it. It was like $1.00 in 1943 and it assisted with the war effort. Products like lubricating oils, ropes, parachutes, clothing etc. were manufactured from it then later enter the DEA and their fear tactics and the next thing you know a weed that you cannot get high on is categorized as a schedule I narcotic the same as heroine. We are losing a lot of money by not joining the rest of the world and make money to add to city/state and country coffers by growing, marketing and manufacturing it. Our neighbors to the north do, it adds something like 8 million dollars a year to their tax base…think about it and ask grandpa if he remembers the day when you could legally grow hemp!

Q: What is something interesting the voters don’t know about you?

A: I was in the same Indian Guides tribe as County Commissioner Mike Ankeny. My dad and I made the top portion of our tribes’ totem pole. The 60’s & 70’s were far out…what a long, strange trip it’s been.