I was a Cub Scout, Webelo and Boy Scout, Life ranking. I served my nation in the Army, received a campaign medal for Desert Storm in 1991. A bachelors in Urban Geography, Masters in Environmental Geography and ABD PhD in Geography education by 2007. Worked as an Urban Planner and geographic information system (GIS) technician for the city of Indianapolis and a think tank, the Polis Center, in the late 1990s. Served on the Graduate Students Council at Texas State-San Marcos in 2006. Served on the Associated Student Government as Parliamentarian in 2007. Served as Member-At-Large, President Elect and now President of the Board of Trustees for my church, the San Marcos Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Serve my city as a Commissioner on the Ethics Review Commission since early 2017.
The two most pressing concerns in the city of San Marcos that affect business include the current housing crisis we are experiencing and the continuing expansion and development issues surrounding the questions of downtown expansion. Up or out? Increase density by building taller, or expand the urban center of San Marcos into the surrounding neighborhoods? These questions require considerable thought and compromise on the part of urban residents when looking toward the future of the city and its neighborhoods. Successful neighborhoods must be protected and struggling neighborhoods must be supported. The expansion of businesses and zoning changes into neighborhoods must be considered with all factors involved playing a part in the decision-making process, including the opinions and desires of those who live in the neighborhoods themselves.
I will involve the business community by supporting continuous engagement with neighborhood/business interest panels and mini-town halls, where issues that affect both communities can be spoken to directly. Neighborhood representatives and business community representatives can meet and discuss issues of mutual interest by way of a safe and dynamic interplay of ideas. I will support continuing discussions between the city and the business community, coming up to speed on necessary issues in order to make the best decision for the business community, the neighborhoods and their denizens.
Local residents know best what their own locale needs. They know the people. They know the neighborhoods. They’ve looked around, lived in town and talked to the people and know who their market is. We need to support their efforts because, by doing so, we are supporting the tax payers and their families. We are building bridges between the community and the city and building good will and a dynamic and regenerative interrelation that builds upon itself with time and effectiveness.
I will work to clarify the relationship between the city and Texas State, as well as the university and the residents of San Marcos. The current divide between those who live on “the Hill” and those who live down in the neighborhoods is a serious issue. The perception of the university as “eating” the city of San Marcos is one that needs to be addressed proactively by the university. On the other side of the issue, coming to understand the needs of an institution seeking Tier 1 research status and what that means as far as development and expansion is concerned, is imperative for the city to clarify in an open format for the people of San Marcos. Neither can exist without the other, the city or the university, as things currently, and for the foreseeable future, stand. Dialogue and clarity is required for the relationship to continue to grow and benefit both interests mutually.
Provide structures that seek to support real small business, single owner or family-operated. This cound include any number of initiatives, including working with existing entities that seek to support the small business community, bolstering their offerings and working in tandem with them in order to effectively serve the needs of the city and its residents. Our small business community can be protected by the city being very deliberate in what new businesses we invite to town and the rewards the city gives them for coming. Making sure the city isn’t left with a bill it did not expect, that all agreements are fair and equitable, that San Marcans are put to work in businesses that arrive and that business development originating external to San Marcos comport themselves with fair business practices.
1) An integrated and regular busing system that serves the city, the university and the hinterlands. 2) Bike lanes and sidewalks in all existing neighborhoods, including bike lane/bridge integration on both sides of the I-35 divide, safely connecting the city’s two sides. 3) A new approach to light rail between San Antonio and Austin, with regular stops in San Marcos, which requires renewed negotiations with the current rail system adminstrators.
My approach to the budget would be to familiarize myself with past budgets and the current budget, the revenue forcasting process and findings, looking at each item and comparing it to years previous to see whether a particular area has achieved a state of parity and sustainability. Areas no longer in need of the same level of support should experience a decrease in financial activity while those in need of increased support will see an increase. One thing I would change in the current budget is to allot more money to making the city walkable. Increasing the presence of sidewalks in all neighborhoods and working on street maintenance. Instead of two dedicated sidewalk crews, make it four. I would also look at franchise fees and licenses and permit fee structures again.
I will make sure that the P&Z represents the people of the neighborhoods of this city by supporting individuals who have a stake in neighborhoods that experience flood effects as well as economic tribulation. All voices and neighborhoods should be represented equally.
There is a current agreement, nascently developed, between the city, the county and the school district that seeks to create workforce housing by stepping into the tax reclamation process to renovate houses and sell them to lower-income individuals. Since the current average valuation of housing is higher than the average incomes of San Marcans, such initiatives are necessary. After testing the process, if it is successful it should be expanded ad affordable housing built in different areas of the city dependent upon need but also in order to diversity neighborhoods economically.
I would use it to buy up land above the headwaters of the San Marcos river in the watershed to protect the Springs indefinitely. I would do so because we are inheritors of a wellspring of health and life, called Spring Lake and the San Marcos Springs. We must protect it at all costs.
San Marcos is at a crossroads. A decision must be made as to how much the city will retain of its traditional character and how much it will lose, going forward. The Chamber of Commerce has a lot to do with how this decision is made. That San Marcos must change, grow, evolve, is undoubtable. The only constant in the world is change. But now, and here, it must be decided whether the city will move forward considering the needs of all of its citizens, both new and traditional, or will it attempt to follow development models originating elsewhere and ignorant of the peculiar nature of this place and space. The choice is for all of us to make. Together.