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Check it out! I got to meet Max Nofziger, Local ATX living Legend...


Michael "Max" Nofziger's birth was heralded by a Midwestern tornado ripping the roof off the family's barn. Born on March 20, 1948 of hardy Swiss Mennonite pioneers, Max is the sixth generation of the farmers and teachers who settled the Black Swamp region of Northwest Ohio. Max's mother thought she would be safer in a storm at a local hospital rather than in the family's log cabin home. So much for history.

Max learned about responsibility and hard work early helping on the family farm, raising corn and feeding beef cattle and hogs. He graduated in 1966 from Archbold High School, Valedictorian and vice-president of his class of 88 students. He won an academic scholarship to Adrian College, Adrian, Michigan and graduated in 1970 with a degree in political science and a teaching certificate.

In the early 1970s Max traveled the United States extensively, living in different parts of the country with various friends and acquaintances. Intending to go to Los Angeles, California, along the road Fate diverted his travel plans and he found himself in Austin.

Arriving in Austin in 1973 he was immediately captivated by the musical culture and the natural beauty of the city. Max decided to make Austin his permanent residence early in 1974 and as a means to achieving both income and knowledge of the city, began selling flowers in South Austin on Congress Avenue, at Oltorf Street, where he became a fixture for the next seven years.

Max's love of the city prompted him to become involved in the political process. He felt that he could legitimately and effectively work to keep Austin environmentally and culturally unique.

In 1979 Max made his first run for City Council -- Place One, campaigning for a clean environment and against Austin's involvement in the then newly proposed South Texas Nuclear Project. A political new-comer, Max won several thousand votes, but not enough to win. Not to be discouraged, he tried again in 1981 and got even fewer votes! Again not to be discouraged, Max was determined to be a voice in the city he had adopted as his own. 1983 saw "Max for Mayor" this time getting enough votes to force his contenders into a run-off. Another run for mayor in 1985, another run-off, this time he endorsed the eventual winner. Finally, on his fifth try for elective office Max won Place One on the City Council in 1987, edging out a well funded opponent in a very tight run-off race!

Max went on to be re-elected in 1990 after a tough campaign; and re-elected again in 1993, this time in a landslide. Max chose not seek re-election in 1996, after serving nine years on the council, choosing instead to focus on other projects like self-regerenration, music, recreation and writing.

Max's return to the political arena was prompted by a concern about what he perceives to be too much corruption and too little service in the City of Austin. Deeply troubled by both an outsider's and an insider's view of the political process, Max emerges back on the political scene as the only major candidate running for mayor who has agreed to the City's campaign finance ordinance, in fact, he has gone even further by lowering his contribution and expenditure limits ($100 per individual -- $75,000 expenditures). Max has not ever spent over $50,000 in any campaign and he has not accepted high dollar contributions from anyone -- he finds it very non-confining, thereby providing him with the freedom to act, unencumbered, for all of the citizens of Austin. His political compass is set on what is best for all of the people.

Max brings a proven record of leadership to the 1997 mayor's race. His record on our environment, our economy and our electric utility, just to name a few items, demonstrates his time-proven effectiveness as a community leader. Many facets of Austin's current quality of life are, in no small measure, due to Max's involvement in community affairs: i.e., the only elected official to be involved in the very successful convention center from inception to opening; the first public official to publicly endorse the renovation of Bergstrom and the closing of Mueller airport; possibly the strongest and most effective champion of and for the arts in the history of Austin; and, definitely in no small measure, the economy of Austin being among the strongest in the country today!

Here is another article I found below from the Austin Bulldog in regards to the 2003, yes back in March 1st, 2003 Austin Mayoral Race.

Nofziger confronts ninth gate in eternal quest to become Austin’s mayor

MAYOR-NOFZIGERPolitical warhorse Michael Eddie “Max” Nofziger, a fifty-five-year-old (this month) former Austin City Council member, has heard the bugler’s call to the starting gate and he is once again charging after the votes needed to become Austin’s mayor. This is Nofziger’s ninth run for a seat on the council dais—and his fourth bid to be mayor—since he began running for political office in 1979.

In each of his three previous mayoral campaigns (1983, 1985 and 1997) Nofziger garnered enough votes to force a runoff between two other candidates. “This time, of course, the goal is to get in a runoff, not just create one,” he says.

After finishing far behind Kirk Watson and Ronney Reynolds in the 1997 mayoral election, Nofziger chose not to run for mayor in 2000, when Kirk Watson was reelected in a landslide against feeble competition, or in 2001, when former Council Member Gus Garcia won the special election to succeed Watson. By June when the new mayor is sworn in, Nofziger will have been out of elective office seven years. During that time, he made a television commercial for Chevrolet trucks and helped to find a buyer for the Cinema West porn theater on South Congress, which led to the building’s renovation as an office building. From April 1998 through December 1999, Nofziger was employed by the Austin Police Department to help stop prostitution on South Congress Avenue, earning $20,425 per year in a job funded by a U.S. Department of Justice grant for community policing.

Despite his years away from the council dais, Nofziger can claim far more experience in governing than other candidates in this race; he spent nine years on the council before stepping down in 1996. Nofziger says the city’s current fiscal crisis and downbeat local economy are similar to conditions when he first took office in 1987. “I have the experience to do this. I’ve done it before,” he says. “I’m willing to offer my knowledge and my experience to the citizens of Austin and tell them that I’m the best one to help us get through these difficult times.”

Nofziger’s credibility as a political strategist got a boost from his role in defeating the light-rail initiative in November 2000, a campaign in which he acted as a consultant to longtime rail foe Gerald Daugherty and retired high-tech executive Jim Skaggs. Although vastly outspent by rail advocates, their slogan, “No Rail: Costs Too Much, Does Too Little,” proved unbeatable. The proposition failed by fewer than two thousand votes out of more than a quarter-million cast. Daugherty used that victory as a springboard to win the Precinct 3 seat on the Travis County Commissioners Court last November, despite bad press over numerous tax liens.

Nofziger continues to consult for those who oppose light rail. His new client is the Save South Congress Association. The group formed a year after the light-rail referendum failed, voicing concerns that Capital Metro has continued planning for a Rapid Transit System that members view as potentially detrimental.

In the mayoral campaign, Nofziger knows he will be outspent by several other candidates and hopes to pull off the same sort of upset that defeated the light-rail measure. Noting that Council Member Will Wynn is the most formidable opponent he faces in this campaign, Nofziger says, “If this race is about who has the most money, then Will is going to win, no doubt. On the other hand, if it’s about who has the best and most experience, I obviously have the most experience. So it’s going to be a contest as to which criteria is most pressing for the citizens and voters.”

Nofziger says he hopes to raise between $50,000 and $100,000 for this election, far less than viable mayoral candidates typically spend. His relatively cheap campaign may be effective because he’s already well known, eschews spending money on consultants, and runs a mostly do-it-yourself operation. His campaign manager, Christine Buendel, is a paralegal who’s never before run a campaign, but Nofziger says she’s detail-oriented and organized, which is all he needs.

Nofziger says his roots run six generations deep in the tiny town of Archbold, Ohio, a Mennonite community where his ancestors arrived as early settlers in 1834. But like many a young man who came of age during the Vietnam War, he had a yen to wander. He moved around the country, living briefly in Florida, Denver, and Houston. He first hit Austin when he was hitchhiking through in 1973 and moved here permanently the next year, supporting himself by peddling flowers at South Congress and Oltorf.

“I was looking for my place, and as soon as I got to Austin I knew this was it…For me it was the music—the first night was unbelievable—and then we went out on Barton Creek skinny-dipping and Lone Star sipping, and I recognized immediately, this is paradise…It’s interesting how my first two influences, music and the water, Barton Creek in particular, have informed my politics over the years and have been a key part of what I’m trying to do here in Austin, preserve the water and preserve the music.”

By 1979, Nofziger had joined the movement to oppose voter approval for the South Texas Nuclear Project—a power plant that got built anyway, suffering enormous cost overruns in the process—and began campaigning for city council. It would be eight long years and five tries on the ballot before he finally got elected in 1987, upsetting business candidate Gilbert Martinez in a runoff. That a flower salesman could get elected to our governing body is part of Austin’s “weird” past. (Actually for years we had two flower peddlers as perennial candidates for city council. What differentiated Nofziger from “Crazy” Carl Hickerson-Bull is that Nofziger had a degree in political science from Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan, and spoke to the issues.)

As a council member, Nofziger claims credit for a long list of environmental accomplishments. Among these are introducing the first nondegradation water-quality ordinance, backing the defense of the Save Our Springs Ordinance all the way to the Supreme Court, appointing Earth First! activist Tim Jones to the city’s Environmental Board (he’s still there, by the way), and creating the city staff position of pedestrian coordinator.

While hoping that voters will recall his own contributions to environmental protection, Nofziger says, “A disadvantage that Will has is, I think, Austinites want an environmentalist to be leading the city at this time. I think that people realize that after six years of the ‘green’ council, our air quality is worse than ever and Barton Springs is in grave jeopardy.”

Nofziger says, “The council didn’t do enough to protect the environment and Barton Springs, and this latest round of publicity about the threat to Barton Springs illustrates that.” He contends that the city council made a “huge mistake” in not strengthening the Save Our Springs Ordinance after the Supreme Court ruled the city had the right to protect the people’s water.

Despite Nofziger’s record on environmental issues, environmental activists abandoned him in the 1997 campaign in favor of Kirk Watson, a situation Nofziger attributes to entering the race late. This time, Nofziger hopes for more loyalty from his former allies, and challenges them not to be complacent.

“This election is going to separate the real environmentalists from the lip-service environmentalists,” Nofziger says. “The environmentalists who have been content to sit back the last six years and watch the air get dirtier and watch Barton Springs become more and more threatened, they’re going to support Will Wynn. The real environmentalists who realize that we better do something or it’s going to be gone, those are the ones who are going to support me, because I’ve done something…Every big environmental issue over the last twenty-five years, I’ve been involved with.”

Nofziger claims to have played a key role in getting voter approval for building the Austin Convention Center, a move spearheaded by then-mayor Lee Cooke, and notes that the Convention Center makes money and boosts the economy. Nofziger wants some of the credit for getting the city’s airport moved to the former Bergstrom Air Force Base. He also notes that both the convention center and new airport were well managed projects that came in at or near the approved budget—in contrast to some of the current city construction projects like the new city hall, which is neither on time nor on budget.

In support of the music business, Nofziger says he played a role in forming the Austin Music Commission, starting the music industry loan program, and branding Austin as the live music capital of the world. Had he been on the current council, Nofziger says would have voted to continue funding for the Austin Music Network, although he faults the council for awarding contracts to operate the network without taking bids.

“If I’m the mayor I will wean the Austin Music Network within three years,” Nofziger says. First, it would be put out for bids, he said, and then other funding sources would be developed. Noting that music is a big attraction for Austin’s tourism industry, Nofziger says, “I’m going to make music a priority.”

Nofziger says if he was on the current council he would have voted for the resolution opposing war in Iraq.

Noting that Council Member Will Wynn cast the only vote to stop funding the Austin Music Network and abstained from voting on the anti-war resolution, Nofziger stretches the point, saying, “He’s against music and for war.” (For the record, Wynn says he abstained on the Iraq resolution because it’s a matter outside the council’s jurisdiction.) Don’t be surprised if you hear Nofziger on the campaign trail accusing Wynn of wanting to “Make War, Not Music.”

Like Wynn, Nofziger believes that Austin’s rules for financing council and mayoral campaigns are unsatisfactory. Nofziger advocates raising the $100 contribution limit to $500.

“My campaign is geared to increase voter turnout,” Nofziger says. He says the meaty issues facing the city ought to generate more interest, including the cost of living, the city’s spending, and the need to revitalize the economy, protect the environment, improve transportation, and keep Austin weird.

Nofziger criticizes the current council for giving the Convention Center Hotel project $15 million after the project’s backers had already agreed to build it without city assistance.

“Smart Growth was a disaster,” Nofziger says, noting the loss of such icons as Liberty Lunch, Ruta Maya, Steamboat, and Waterloo Brewery, not to mention the looming skeleton of the Intel building. If elected, Nofziger says he will move to stop giving incentives for development. “My approach will be on small business…the backbone of the Austin economy.”

If elected, Nofziger says he will seek to sit on Capital Metro’s board of directors, on which two council members now sit. “The twin issues of transportation and air quality are at such a crisis point in Austin that it demands the time and attention of the mayor.” He says that Capital Metro’s sales tax of one-percent should not be reduced but the money should not be stockpiled. Instead, it should be used to improve the mass transit system, reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality.

Regarding other transportation issues, Nofziger says that Governor Rick Perry’s strong support of State Highway 130 will move its construction forward. Nofziger thinks commuter rail makes more sense than light rail.

Nofziger’s own ideas for transportation are in a package called Affordable Clean Air Transit, improvements that would be cost-effective, minimize street interruptions for construction, and can happen quickly, he says. This would involve replacing “Capital Metro’s diesel fleet with smaller, cleaner, quieter buses, some battery powered, some turbine powered.” (Capital Metro is already pilot testing turbine-powered buses.)

“My approach to make Austin the center for clean vehicles…is for Capital Metro to offer a rebate of $5,000 to people who buy one of those (Toyota) Prius or Honda (Insight) vehicles that get better mileage. That would be a substantial enough amount of money to spark some interest…We should introduce to Austin clean vehicles and educate our populace that you can have a clean vehicle—you’re not limited to these gas-guzzling, exhaust-belching polluters.” Nofziger says he drives a small Chevrolet pickup truck.

On the subject of regional planning, Nofziger says, “We need to talk to our neighbors, obviously, and pursue a hospital district.” But he is wary of Envision Central Texas, a regional planning organization that Will Wynn helped to form. “Envision Central Texas is basically Phase One of the next light-rail campaign…I’m sure the result is going to be, ‘we need to build light rail.'” Nofziger says as mayor he wants to be part of the regional planning effort that Council Member Daryl Slusher has initiated with Hays County, which could lead to a blueprint on how to develop the Barton Creek watershed.

Nofziger plays up the fact he has lived in South Austin for nearly thirty years. In trying to keep Austin, Austin, and recognizing that the true Austin is slipping away, we need a true Austin mayor. I embody that. What’s more ‘Austin’ than having a former flower seller who is a musician be the mayor of the Live Music Capital of the World, who also happens to have the most experience? That’s what keeps Austin weird—the weirdest guy has the most experience.”

Regarding Mayor Gus Garcia’s intention to further restrict smoking in public places, Nofziger says that while he does not smoke, “That’s not something I’m really going to push…I think the current situation is pretty good.”

To address the revenue shortfall in the city budget, Nofziger says, “There’s no escaping layoffs this time around. The city hired a lot of people the last several years, during the boom, and the city pegged its spending and hiring to the boom economy. And of course we have to adjust back as we’re in a bust now. We have to lay people off and there’s a substantial savings in that. And we have to stop hiring all these consultants…We’re going to have to get down to all the things we did in 1987 and 1988, which is (to cut) travel, magazine subscriptions, all those things. It’s going to be a real belt-tightening time.”

Because the city has incurred so much debt, Nofziger says it may not be possible to balance the budget without a tax increase, but that’s something he would study after taking office. If elected mayor, Nofziger says, “I am going to take a voluntary pay cut and reduce the mayor’s staff.”

On the subject of funding for women’s reproductive healthcare, Nofziger says he does not foresee reductions, “but we’ll look at all the funding that we do. We won’t start with a zero-based budget like the state is doing, but we’ve got to look at every place we can save some money.”

Nofziger thinks that the financial problems caused by the city paying for healthcare of people from surrounding counties is an issue that the federal government should help with. The city should continue to work with the Legislature to create a hospital district as well. “We have to have a regional approach to healthcare.”

In this election, we can count on Max Nofziger, who still sports the trademark “Buffalo Bill” facial hair that makes him instantly recognizable, to offer us a blast from the past about why he’s the best person for the job.

From Flower to Power, The Education of Max Nofziger, a 1995, yes 1995 dated Article from the Austin Chronicle.

Lastly, While I got your attention. Got a question, inquiry, or are you in the marketplace to Buy, Sell or Lease Austin Texas Real Estate? If so contact me! George Vance McGee Austin Silent Market Broker Associate 512.657.9281 


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