Candidate Profiles: Stiehm aims to keep city on current trajectory

Published 11:09 am Friday, May 25, 2012

Mayor Tom Stiehm’s chief goal in running for re-election is to keep Austin operating as it has been.


“A lot of the big things are taken care of,” Stiehm said, adding that the city was doing very well overall. “You want to see things continue and keep streamlining government.”

Stiehm filed for reelection Wednesday, after saying on Monday that he was “95 percent sure” he would like to run again. He said he was happy with what the city has, and wants to focus on keeping the streets in good condition and maintenance up. Tax rates in Austin are nearly the lowest of all the cities in its size category, and the budget reserves are high. Local Government Aid and flood mitigation efforts are also coming along, he said.

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Stiehm is currently in his third term as mayor. That experience makes him a familiar candidate to the people of Austin, he said, and most will already know whether or not they plan to vote for him.

“That’s the advantage of being around for six years,” he said. “People know me and know where I stand on things.”

Stiehm still plans to have a few organized events to promote him as a candidate and intends to knock on doors and put up signs.

While he says things are generally going well in the city and few changes need to be made, Stiehm said it was important to remember that a mayor by his- or herself cannot accomplish anything. The mayor has to work with people in order to make things happen.

“My thing as a mayor is to help people get things done,” Stiehm said. “We’re always trying to get people more involved in government.”

He pointed to the recently-unveiled Jackie Graves memorial stone and the newly-established dog park as examples of how the citizens can get involved in their government.

Stiehm’s roots in Austin run back to the 70s. He was born in Minneapolis and moved to Milwaukee, where he joined the Marine Corps. In 1976, he took a job as a police officer in Austin. He was later promoted to detective and joined a narcotics task force. In total, Stiehm worked 30 years in the police force, half of which he worked alongside current Police Chief Brian Krueger.

After his retirement in 2006, Stiehm took the opportunity and ran for Mayor.

“I enjoy it,” he said. “Once you get acclimated to the job and get a handle on things, it’s a lot of fun working with people and accomplishing things.”

In terms of future projects, Stiehm

“I’d like to see a memorial walk go around Mill Pond,” he said. Others had talked about the idea and it would be a good way to memorialize the prominent citizens of Austin, he said.

But mostly, Stiehm said he prefers to let the citizens drive efforts bring what they want to the city. The government shouldn’t insert itself into every little part of a person’s life, he said.

“My job as mayor is to get out of the way,” he said.