Clennon: I’ve learned from 1st run for mayor

Published 9:56 am Thursday, May 24, 2012

CANDIDATE PROFILE: Marian Clennon, for Mayor

Marian Clennon filed to run for mayor of Austin in hopes of addressing more citizens’ concerns.

“I see a lot of things that have not gone right in the past few years,” the current Ward 3 council member said, adding many of the concerns people have come to her with she could better address as mayor.

“I just think I could do a better job,” she said.

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Clennon entered the race Tuesday, the first day filing began. This will be her second run, after losing to current Mayor Tom Stiehm in 2010. Stiehm won by 1,699 votes, or 61 percent to 39 percent, but Clennon requested a hand recount — which she paid for out of pocket — saying she wanted to make sure the voters’ ballots were counted as the voters intended. Clennon conceded after the recount produced the same results as election night.

This time around, Clennon said, the biggest concern is working together. She said there are too many divisions between council members, and people need to feel welcome to give their opinions without feeling dismissed.

“We need to include people no matter what,” she said. “Everything else will fall in place.”

Clennon said it’s also important for the city to continuously look at its budget and find more efficient ways to do things. This could involve redesigns to combine services with other cities, counties or school districts. It could be necessarily to give up a little bit of control, she said.

Clennon has lived in Austin since 1996. Before moving to the city, she still had connections with it. She grew up in Indiana, but her father was from Austin. The family would make regular trips there.

“I grew up in Austin one week at a time,” Clennon said.

For a day job, she currently holds a clerical position for a temp service. On the side, Clennon works on a business venture.

Her first involvement in City Council came about a year before she actually ran for her seat. Clennon was interviewed by a reporter about a dog park proposed for her neighborhood. It was the first she had heard of it.

“We organized my neighborhood and came to Park and Rec. and to the City Council and let them know we didn’t think it was a good idea,” Clennon said. She supported building a park in a different location, and suggested a few to the council.

“I started asking questions, and there was always another question,” she said. She starting attending council meetings and learning what things were. She resolved to help people get involved and ask questions.

Clennon highlighted Coffee with the Council as an example of one way to get citizens to speak their minds without the sometimes intimidating environment of the council chambers.

“The people that come love it,” she said. “It’s a relaxed atmosphere and they feel like they can come and talk and ask questions.”

As for her campaign strategy, Clennon intends to focus on face time.

“Go to the people, don’t make them come to you,” she said. She plans to knock on as many doors as she can. When she ran for city council, Clennon said, she hit almost every house in the Third Ward.

She said she has learned a lot since her 2010 run for mayor.

“It’s not about personality, it’s about our city,” Clennon said. “The more we can get people involved, the more we can do the right thing for the city of Austin.”