I have been an active follower of City Council, Planning & Zoning, and other city boards and commissions, as well as Hays County government for over ten years. Several years ago I served on the first San Marcos Neighborhood Commission. Four years ago I was unanimously appointed to the San Marcos Historic Preservation Commission. I was re-appointed earlier this year and unanimously elected Chair of the Commission in April. I’m also a former downtown employee, as Station Manager of KZSM Community Radio in 2016-2017.
As always, I will be in constant contact with our Chamber, and other organizations like the Greater San Marcos Partnership and the Downtown Association, to identify and address key issues affecting our business community. Our most pressing concern is continuing our work with Code SMTX, which was adopted in April and is now being implemented and revised based on real-world conditions. The other major issue I see is parking in our downtown; we need to work on ways to give downtown employees parking alternatives and free up parking spaces for customers.
I believe our business community has been and should continue to be involved in our local political discourse. I don’t feel there is much of a gap between citizens and our business community, because many of the leaders in that community are citizens of San Marcos themselves. Including the Chamber of Commerce, we have a number of organizations that our city should continue to work with, such as the Greater San Marcos Partnership and the Downtown Association.
We should continue our relationship with the Greater San Marcos Partnership. GSMP has been and will likely continue to be our primary economic development organization for the foreseeable future. Of course, I have been and will remain open to suggestions from our San Marcos business community.
As a Texas State alumnus, I feel I have a valuable perspective on Town & Gown issues that isn’t always represented on City Council. I feel the key to a successful relationship with Texas State is having and maintaining open lines of communication. We must continue to work on developing a strong relationship with faculty and student leaders at the University. I also think Texas State needs to play a more active role in helping support city services, such as our Fire Department, and with roads near Texas State such as the proposed Sessom/Academy roundabout.
One concern that has come up is when our city considers economic incentives for businesses that will directly compete with our established small business community. For example, several years ago San Marcos considered a multi-million dollar incentive package to bring in Alamo Drafthouse to draw entertainment traffic away from Downtown. This went against our commitments to our small business community and was thankfully withdrawn.
We need a “leave no stone unturned” approach to transportation issues in San Marcos. That means looking at options like expanding CARTS/San Marcos Transit, and extending bus service to Martindale and other surrounding communities. We need to work with the state legislature to give Texas State more flexibility in how their Bobcat Shuttle service works so they can extend their program to include Downtown, which they are currently prohibited from doing. We also need to support taxis and ridesharing services, and not regulate them out of existence.
Our budget process in San Marcos has been and must continue to be an extended collaborative process. Our first budget visioning workshops should be held in January to set general goals and guidelines for our budget. Starting months ahead of passage ensures we have a long period to take public input, and gives staff and councilmembers time to consider all options. This also ensures we’re able to review every program for effectiveness and plan ahead for the future. I don’t feel there’s anything substantial in the 2018 budget to change, and the council’s unanimous vote confirms that this budget is the right choice for San Marcos.
While I can think of examples of P&Z and Council votes over the past few years that I have disagreed with, I don’t feel like our city government has been deliberately targeting small business owners. Without any specific examples I don’t feel I can fairly address what problems, if any, exist. I do know Planning & Zoning is considering removing the restrictions on when Preferred Scenario Amendments can be filed, because of concerns that the current process is biased against small developers. I think this is a good change and I would support it on Council.
We need a multi-pronged approach to housing in San Marcos. I fully support our new Workforce Housing Task Force, and attended their first meeting on September 13th. This Task Force is expected to make recommendations next year to the City Council. As a resident of our community for over a decade, I know firsthand that the cost of housing in San Marcos has been rising. We should be encouraging apartment construction in places that are zoned for multifamily and not next to single family neighborhoods or in areas of stability. We should also be supporting new single family home construction and encouraging home ownership and owner-occupancy. I would also like for us to consider expanding the Texas State professor residency initiative to include SMCISD and CTMC employees.
I would first look back through the past few budget cycles and look for any programs the city has had to cut due to funding. I would also look at programs that the city operates that run out of funds before the end of the budget. Keeping in mind that $1 million is less than half of one percent of the total budget, I would look at smaller programs to expand rather than spending it all on a single program. I would also be very reluctant to invest one-time funds into recurring expenses, such as hiring new city staff.
I believe I offer an experienced, reasonable choice for San Marcos. My positions are researched and based on years of personal experience in our community. On Town & Gown issues I’ve seen both sides, as a Texas State alumnus and as a permanent resident. I understand the issues affecting renters such as myself, but I’ve witnessed the struggle homeowners are going through. I’ve seen our downtown thrive, and as a former downtown employee and a member of the Historic Preservation Commission, I feel I’ve played a part in making that happen. I’m asking for the opportunity to continue serving San Marcos.