2020 Mayoral Candidates


Click the buttons below to navigate between the different positions up for election.

Mayor City Council, Place 3 City Council, Place 4 City Council, Place 5

The San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce is partnering with the San Marcos Daily Record to provide information to voters on where candidates stand on key issues.

The Chamber asked all candidates the same five questions that align with the chamber’s key priorities. Candidates were given two minutes to respond to each question and were not provided the questions ahead of time. Answers from the candidates are in-full and have not been edited.


Mayoral Candidates

Five candidates are running for San Marcos Mayor; Jane Hughson, Randy Dethrow, Michael Hathaway, Juan Miguel Arredondo, and Justin Harris. Hughson and Arredondo were the only two who responded to our requests.

Community Investment

Read the candidates full answers below.

Jane Hughson

Are you for continued development within our city? If so, do you have any limitations?

“What we need to do is we need to develop inside our city so that we have more density and so that…our bus systems work better when you have more density because you have more riders per mile. But we have to be careful where we put it, we don’t want to put it where we already have single-family homes, because again we want predictability. If someone has bought a single-family home, you want to know what is going to be nearby. In new developments, I think it’s great to have some very dense portions, and maybe some portions that aren’t because people want that. And what that does, is it gives you an opportunity, perhaps you are in the apartment part when you are young, later you want a home when you’ve got a family and you want a back yard, and then when you become an empty nester you may want to go back to the place where you don’t have to do the yard. So, I think we should embrace all housing types, but we should be careful and protect our existing neighborhoods that we have now.”

What specifically would you do to expedite approvals of projects?

“I think that our San Marcos planning department does a very good job of expediting, we are better than many other cities. One of the things that we did in our updates to the land development code is to allow a developer to request two different zoning districts, what that means is if the planning and zoning commission and or the city council says ‘No, we don’t think that zoning district is good, but you know, if you are applying for a lower density one, we would be okay with that.’ Well currently what the developer has to do is kind of go back to the drawing board, fill out a new application, and go through all the, we have to post notice of all the public hearings and do all of that. With this new method, and everything would be transparent, it would be clear that they are applying for both and that would give us an opportunity to do more quickly what we have said in the past. Is, ‘we don’t think this one is right, but we could do one of lesser intensity,’ if a developer is willing to do that, that can be done on the spot and save them perhaps two or three months.”

Juan Miguel Arredondo

Are you for continued development within our city? If so, do you have any limitations?

“Right now we know that more than 70% of our residents rent, the only way that we address that is providing a pathway for those residents to own homes. And the only way that we achieve that is for those residents to be able to buy homes which means we have to have more development, that’s just a fact. If we truly want our residents to invest in our community, the only way to do that is to provide them the opportunity to do so. So, I am in favor of development because we know that if our community is not growing, it’s dying and that’s just a fact.”

What specifically would you do to expedite approvals of projects?

“Expediting approvals I think is a loaded phrase for a lot in this community because they see it as growth that is not being managed, but again the SMTX Housing For All task force put out a road map to not expedite, but to streamline the development process for housing options that would positively affect our San Marcos community and I think that first and foremost would be one of the ways to expedite or address our housing crisis in the short term, I think that’s a longer discussion that this community needs to have. But again, the only way that we can provide residents with housing is to provide that housing, and so that means we have to develop.”

Housing Growth and Diversity

Read the candidates full answers below.

Jane Hughson

How do you propose we create affordable housing in San Marcos without creating sprawl or building high-rise apartments?

“There are a number of solutions to the issue of affordable housing. And one of them the council has already addressed. Fortunately, there were a number of companies that do low-income housing and the tax credit is at the state. So, we have approved a number of those, those include apartments, we approved hundreds of apartments, and sometimes that’s what someone needs at a certain time in their life. If you are young, maybe new kids, what these have is they have the traditional pool that apartments have, but they also have programs that are part of the state-wide program for after school programs for the kids. We also have required them to have transportation several times a week, so if you don’t have a car or maybe you are a one-car household, and someone takes that car to work, but someone else needs to go get groceries. And so that’s what we have done, we’ve required them to have transportation that will be provided at no extra cost and that is going to assist. If they are not already on a bus route then the transportation is going to be provided. They’ll also have small food pantries at some of these, and study places for the kids in addition to kids’ activities. So that’s one of the ways that we have done this. These are for low to moderate-income families and individuals, so that’s part of a solution to affordable housing. The other are these zoning districts that we have in the new land development code that are providing for small lots, which means smaller homes, and that will provide more opportunities for homeownership at such time when someone is ready for that because those homes will be more affordable than what you will see in most traditional single-family neighborhoods where the houses are pretty far apart and those are just going to be more expensive just because.”

Juan Miguel Arredondo

How do you propose we create affordable housing in San Marcos without creating sprawl or building high-rise apartments?

“One of the fastest ways to address our housing affordability crisis that was not included in the SMTX for all housing task force recommendations was redefining single-family housing in San Marcos. Right now, the City of San Marcos has the strictest definition of what a single-family household is, and that’s no more than two unrelated occupants in a household. If we were to increase that to three, that would be one of the biggest variables that has not been changed in San Marcos for decades. And so I think that first and foremost is something I would consider as San Marcos’ next mayor to address not only our housing affordability crisis but also for those that can’t find affordable housing currently.”

Transporation and Infrastructure

Engineers and planners agree that public transit, bikeability, and walkability are achieved in areas that contain a mixture of housing, retail, business, and entertainment. However, new housing in San Marcos is being built on the outskirts of town.

Read the candidates full answers below.

Jane Hughson

Do you believe there is a link between how we designate land use and how we achieve multi-modal transportation? If so, give the land uses you would support within in-fill areas in the city.

“There are a number of vacant lots inside our city. They already have streets, access to water, wastewater and those are things that we need to look at encouraging landowners to develop those lots, or perhaps find someone else who does. I’m all for property rights so I wouldn’t force that on them, but we could certainly encourage that. Because there are people who have inherited a lot, they live out of town, so reaching out to them to see how we can bolster our in-fill would be good. I’m not sure about sprawl, I think people have different definitions of sprawl, and when a developer has an opportunity to find land often on the east side of the interstate because it is cheaper to build on and they want to put in a housing development and that phase one goes very well and they want to do phase two, I don’t want to tell them that they can’t do that, I think it’s good if people can be closer to town, again going back to services, buses all those types of things. I would love to see more people riding the bus to work or even to the movies, whatever it is that they want to do, and have fewer cars on our roadways. So, I look forward to the way we are going to do our buses in the future that is going to help that situation, but we need to accommodate all of the people who are coming to San Marcos, whether it’s near our core or whether it’s on the outskirts of our town.”

Juan Miguel Arredondo

Do you believe there is a link between how we designate land use and how we achieve multi-modal transportation? If so, give the land uses you would support within in-fill areas in the city.

“So during our current public health crisis, we’ve seen neighborhoods become centers of commerce as people have started to conduct business in their homes. That in it of itself is an example of how beneficial and impactful mixed-use development truly is. We see that in our downtown in its effective model. When people are within walking distance of essential services and their jobs, it removes vehicular traffic from our streets and improves our overall natural environment. So, I’ve lived both in an urban setting in our downtown and I’ve also lived on our community’s periphery. There is no system of mass transportation currently in San Marcos that allows our residents who live on the outskirts of our community to travel that doesn’t require them owning a car or getting in some type of vehicle. So, the only way that we address all of those things whether that is protecting our environment, or promoting economic development is to talk about in-fill and dense development in our downtown and closer to our urban core near those essential city services and jobs.”


Jobs and Opportunities

Read the candidates full answers below.

Jane Hughson

What steps would you propose and what initiatives would you support to keep meaningful jobs with wages above the living wage coming to our city and region? Also, what changes, if any, would you recommend to the current structure between the City and the Greater San Marcos Partnership?

“I certainly want to see the city continue its partnership with the Greater San Marcos Partnership as they are an economic development partners also covering the rest of Hays and Caldwell Counties. They are the group that seeks out companies and recruits them to come to San Marcos, Texas. The city council will choose whether or not we provide incentives for them if they are coming inside the corporate city limits of San Marcos and we choose what those incentives will be. A few years ago, one of the criteria that we put on that was a $15 an hour wage. We did not change it for the city of San Marcos. We just said if you want incentives from the city, that’s what you have to pay. They can possibly have jobs that are not $15 an hour, those don’t get counted in the incentive. So, we need to continue that program, and I think the way it is working now is fine.”

Juan Miguel Arredondo

What steps would you propose and what initiatives would you support to keep meaningful jobs with wages above the living wage coming to our city and region? Also, what changes, if any, would you recommend to the current structure between the City and the Greater San Marcos Partnership?

“I think there’s no secret that our current city council is almost hostile to outside development and entities coming into our community. And I understand the history that we have in regards to development. But when companies and businesses are looking to relocate jobs to our community and are looking to invest millions of dollars, it’s a give and take and to be rude or disrespectful or to even not negotiate in good faith, which I think this current council is guilty of, it creates an environment in which businesses do not want to relocate to our community. So, I think first and foremost, changing that dynamic is something I would hope to do if elected as mayor.”

Open Communication

Read the candidates full answers below.

Jane Hughson

How do you believe the City and the Chamber should partner to ensure the business community has a meaningful voice in policies that affect them all?

“I think the city and the chamber need to continue discussing anything having to do with business. We have, the chamber of commerce has a seat on sever of our boards and commissions, we are discussing perhaps having more of that and it could be a board member, it could be someone who represents that interest to continue talking about whatever it is whenever companies come. We will want to talk to business people on the comp plan committee. We now have a category to check off of ‘business’ as your area of expertise as far as being on the comp plan committee, we didn’t have that to begin with, but we do now. And so we just need to make sure that as we are planning our city that we include business representatives on different committees and in the conversation.”

Juan Miguel Arredondo

How do you believe the City and the Chamber should partner to ensure the business community has a meaningful voice in policies that affect them all?

“So there’s a saying that I grew up with which is ‘many hands make for light work,’ and I think when it comes to creating and building and sustaining a vibrant community that is as true as anywhere, so that means working with our chamber working with our river association, working with our downtown association, working with various interest groups and non-profits, because it really does take all of us to create the San Marcos that we want to live in and to call home. For the past five years, while I have been on the school board, my cell phone number and email address and Facebook page have been readily available to anyone and everyone, and I would continue that tradition and that expectation I think as an elected official, or even our appointed officials if they want to serve in those roles they have to be easily accessible and available to the citizenry."

A Message to Voters

Read the candidates full answers below.

Jane Hughson

What is your message to voters?

“I’m Jane Hughson, your mayor, seeking reelection to another term to serve you. I’ve lived in San Marcos for 60 of my 65 years, and for 30 years I have been involved in government, boards and commissions and community organizations serving as president of five of those community organizations. It’s amazing to live in San Marcos and it’s an honor to be your mayor. I have supported a number of programs, and that includes drainage projects to alleviate flooding using federal dollars. I have voted for business improvement grants, a reduction in our tax rate this year which is the first time that that has happened in over 20 years, a transit plan to create coordination with the University’s bus system and the city’s bus system which is going to provide more access to more areas for everyone. Downtown vitality to diversify business activity and also to link our river visitors to be downtown shoppers, ordinances and codes for environmental protections, bicycle paths, pedestrian safety, a number of things, and I’ve made hard decisions during the COVID pandemic using guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, Texas Department on emergency management and governors orders. I’m ready to serve you another two years and I ask for your vote.”

Juan Miguel Arredondo

What is your message to voters?

“For the first time in several years, four seats on our city council are up and as we all live through a period of economic and even civil unrest and uncertainty, the people who we elect to public office truly does matter. Whether it’s protecting our river, whether it’s addressing our housing affordability crisis, whether it’s solving our downtown parking challenges…just because you have been an elected official for 15 – 30 years does not mean that you are qualified to hold public office, because if those things were true, then those challenges could have and would have been addressed. So I think now more than ever, we need to elect the candidates who have the energy and who are ready, willing, and able to solve those difficult challenges that have gone unaddressed for decades.”