John Thomaides

City of San Marcos Candidate Questionnaire 2018

 

John Thomadies (Incumbent)

 

Please describe any qualifications and past job experience that has prepared you to serve effectively as a Mayor or Councilmember of San Marcos?

It’s been an honor to serve our friends, neighbors, and your family as Mayor of San Marcos for the past 2 years and I’m running to keep San Marcos moving forward. During that time, we have made significant investment in our future with public safety and library facilities, secured nearly $60 Million for flood recovery and long-term flooding resiliency, doubled our commitment to stormwater management, added 3,000 new full-time positions, created an Innovation District and Climate Action Plan to create the jobs of the future and protect our air quality and acquired 650 Acres of pristine green space. If re-elected I’ll continue to champion our small businesses, promote housing that’s affordable, and build on my record as a defender of our environment and quality of life. A fast-growing city presents many challenges that require experience, leadership, and vision and I ask you for your support and vote this November.

 

What do you believe are the two most pressing concerns currently affecting business in San Marcos and what will you do to correct/overcome them?

At times over the past two years, our City Council has worked against the best interest of our local businesses. Our population is expected to double in the next 20 years and we must prepare today for the challenges we face tomorrow.  We must create meaningful career opportunities for our current and future citizens, our children, and future graduates.  We need policies that allow for the development of a broad selection of affordable housing options located near necessary services and employment.  If not, we will see home prices continue to spiral upward placing pressures on those with limited and fixed incomes and transportation gridlock like what is being seen in Austin today.  A well paid workforce is vital to the economic success of San Marcos.  I remain committed to providing this opportunity in a City that is tolerant, accepting and focused on the future, not looking to the past.

 

How will you involve the business community in citywide discussions and bridge the gap between private citizens and the local business community on issues that impact the business/economic environment and other vital issues that affect San Marcos?

During my term as Mayor I have worked hard to engage and serve our entire community, including the business community, on all matters relevant to our City.  Partnering with our Chamber, I have participated in inter-city visits to Greenville, SC, and Denver with the Austin Chamber, and delivered a State of the City address for two years and have met continually with your leadership while serving on your board.  This has been done to keep the business community involved and up-to-date on matters important to our business owners.  Realizing that our small business owners and their employees make up the backbone of our city’s economic vitality, I remain committed to consider the impact of every city action and policy to ensure the success of our local businesses.

 

What can the City do to encourage existing business growth and new business attraction?

First and foremost, we must have a business-friendly mindset at City Hall. This must come from our Mayor and Councilmembers, City Manager, and our Planning and Zoning Commission that confirms we support businesses here in San Marcos.  We can’t create roadblocks to opportunity for our current and future citizens, our graduates and our children.  Our policies, ordinances and actions must help businesses both big and small prosper in San Marcos.  In addition, we must prepare our city for the inevitable growth we face by assuring adequate infrastructure improvements including mobility solutions to keep us out of Austin-style gridlock.  We must also focus on policies that encourage the development of housing that is affordable and close to existing necessary services and jobs.  Lastly, we must be a city that is diverse and truly accepting and tolerant of everyone.

 

If elected what will you do to further/strengthen the relationship between the City of San Marcos and Texas State University?

Working with Texas State University is critically important for our future.  We now have open communication between both staffs and as Mayor, I meet regularly with President Trauth. Our economic development focus is coordinated, effective and mutually beneficial. We’ve partnered on Innovation Districts, Bike and Car share programs, and a possible Joint Transit System. I have had the opportunity to speak to students and faculty at Convocation to welcome our new Bobcats to San Marcos and the many opportunities we provide. Over the past 2 years, I’ve worked extensively with Texas State volunteer groups on community and river clean-ups, and I can say unequivocally that many students truly love our city and want to give back in some way or make their home here after graduation. Engaging students deeper into the fabric of our community will have long-term positive impacts to this important and permanent relationship with the University.

What can city government do to help protect and serve our small business community?

The city should create fewer hassle’s for small business to build, relocate, or open. This is a key part of my campaign platform.  Too often our city makes doing business much harder and more expensive than it should be or than our neighboring cities do. Often the council will get involved and dis-allow a business to operate in a manner that all their competitors do like Gumby’s Pizza.  Protection and help for our small business community starts at the top at City Hall, and the City Council, City Manager and staff should all be on the same page with a business-friendly mindset to allow our businesses to thrive and hire more of our citizens. Elections do matter and as a small business owner in San Marcos for the past 25 years, I will keep drawing on this experience while serving our community in the Mayor’s office.

 

What improvements do you believe are needed for adequate transportation infrastructure in San Marcos? Please list them in your priority order with a brief description.

As our city’s representative on CAMPO I will continue to work on our infrastructure and mobility needs like a future corridor connection for 35 to RR12 to reduce congestion on our existing roadway network from vehicles traveling through our city to the western part of Hays County and a beautiful Gateway Boulevard from 35 to our downtown business district. We must remain engaged with our Region to ensure that we have alternatives to the crushing 35 congestion whether through rail or bus rapid transit or dedicated lanes. I will also focus on new mobility technologies such as Autonomous Vehicles, (AV) and the impact on safety, parking, street design and freedom from automobile ownership this opportunity that may present.

 

As mayor/councilmember you will be responsible for approving the annual budget, please describe your approach to the budget process and list one thing you would change from the FY 2018 approved budget.

I always start each budget cycle with a mindset of accomplishing the best results for our citizens with the least amount of expenditure increases and no tax rate increases. As in my own personal finances and as a small business owner myself I understand the value of each hard-earned, taxpayer dollar and work hard to stretch them as far as possible.  I understand that there are more needs than dollars and work to prioritize our needs over wants. Now more than ever, we must focus on delivering critical public safety services, public facilities including those approved in the 2017 Bond Election, infrastructure to ensure we keep up with our explosive growth, water supplies, and flood prevention.  This year I opposed an increase in our Community Enhancement fee charged to residents and business to fund additional code enforcement which is an incorrect use of that fund.

 

Decisions at the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council seem to continually have a particularly negative impact to small business owners. What will you do to help solve this problem?

Planning and Zoning Commissioners are appointed by the City Council.  A City Council focused on the concerns of small business will appoint membership on this commission that will focus on and work to understand the needs of our local businesses.   My votes for the appointment of members to the Planning and Zoning Commission, I believe, reflect my commitment to the small business community as well as the entire city and they will continue to do so in my next term as Mayor. We must reject the false notion that we have to choose between a city with a great business environment or a city with a great natural environment, when we clearly need and can have both.  Nomination requires four votes.  I only hope that there is the required number of votes to get these individuals appointed to this important commission in our city.

 

A major issue facing San Marcos is housing availability; lack of workforce housing, and housing affordability and diversity, if elected what actions would you take to help solve this problem?

More housing choices and better paying careers are required to ensure a housing stock that’s affordable for our low-income and workforce population.  The Mayor of our fast-growing city must go to bat for San Marcos day in and day out and I’ll continue the tireless work to attract quality employers with benefits and advancement opportunities for our friends and neighbors. We must have the regulatory framework to allow for housing options close to necessary services and employment to lower the cost of transportation leaving more money for other necessities.  Our first option should not be to create an entitlement of subsidized housing at taxpayer’s expense but instead to ensure every family has the opportunity for good job and career that affords them and their family a secure place to live and a lifetime of self-sufficiency.

 

If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

In current market conditions, $1 million could earn approximately $25,000 to $30,000 per year in interest without reducing the initial $1 million grant. I would propose a grant be created and awarded annually to the individual or company located within our Innovation Districts that has the potential to make the most contribution to the welfare of the citizens of San Marcos through their innovation, their ideas or their work. There would be no greater accomplishment of this grant than to create opportunities where our children and grandchildren have the choice to stay right here in San Marcos upon graduation, have a meaningful career for their future, and build a great life right here in San Marcos.

 

Please use this opportunity to provide any additional information you would like members of the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce to know.

Fortunately, over the past two years, we’ve welcomed an additional 3,000 new jobs to San Marcos. I’ll continue to work tirelessly to attract great employers who offer career quality jobs with benefits and advancement opportunities for everyone.  With inevitable increases in population, I’ll support strategies to offer housing choices that are affordable, close to needed services and workplaces and limit increases in traffic congestion.  With this inevitable growth, we must improve our quality of life by continuing to invest in, protect, and preserve our established neighborhoods, the San Marcos River, and our community’s unique culture.  I ask you to allow me to continue my work as your Mayor to lead our dynamic and fast-growing city into the future.