Election Guide | May 2014

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Important dates:

  • Last day to register to vote: April 10
  • First day of early voting: April 28
  • Last day of early voting: May 6
  • Election day: May 10

Georgetown mayoral candidate Q&A

Marlene McMichael, 512-818-1473, www.marleneformayor.com

Marlene McMichael is the associate vice chancellor for governmental affairs at Texas State Technical College and has served for five years with the city of Georgetowns Planning and Zoning Commission. Prior to operating her government relations consulting firm, McMichael & Company LLC, McMichael worked as a staff member for several members of the Texas House of Representatives and a state senator. She has also served on several boards, including serving as chair of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce, and as executive director of various public policy organizations.

Why did you decide to run for mayor?

I was approached by community and business leaders about the possibility [of running for mayor], and as I investigated it, I felt like it was something that was doable. That was the catalyst. I am running for mayor because I believe it is right for Georgetown. The experience that I have has been across governmental entities. Its been to bring people together. I think that as Georgetown continues in its growth cycle, that is more and more important.

What makes you the best candidate?

Everything Ive done in my career has been to bring people to the table and resolve problems. I like problem-solving, and I believe in government. I think its a process that works, and I know how to make it work. The experience that Ive had all the way around the table I think is very unique. Ive been staff, so I understand the mentality of a staff person as they are working for a government agency. Ive also represented developers. Ive been on [the]planning and zoning [commission], so in that sense Ive represented the city. I understand the mentality and the key issues for all of these different groups, and I think thats an asset.

What are the biggest challenges facing the city?

The No. 1 issue in Georgetown is growth. For different people that means different things. Whether its transportation, water or development, the main factor is growth. We are blessed to be in a state that is creating jobs, and we are blessed to be in a community that is quite lovely with a lot of amenities that attract people. That planning is not just in our infrastructure of our roads and streets, sewers and water lines, it is also in our processes. We need to have a culture in our government that we aim to be user-friendly. Even though things are working, lets keep looking at them as we grow and make sure they continue working as we grow.

If elected, how will you address those challenges?

Its easy to point to certain things as a candidate and say, Im going to change this. I think Georgetown is a city of excellence. That is the culture we have in this city. I think the mayor is responsible for instilling that culture in a community. If we can maintain that, the whole concept of being user-friendly and some other things will fall in line. To a certain extent there are a lot of things we can celebrate about our community. Are there things that could be better? Certainly, but I think it would be presumptuous to go into office and start changing things without seeing things from the inside. I have some ideas, but to me the culture is really important, that we maintain ourselves as a community of excellence, and within our own government we realize we serve the people, and we are here to solve problems and make things work.

What do you want the voters to know about you?

I do believe that problems can be solved if we are willing to come together as a community and as a council. There is always a solution; its how hard are you willing to work for it? I believe you keep turning puzzle pieces until they fall into place. Part of the culture that I would like to instill in the community is that we start where we agree. We have had a council that has not agreed on issues and sometimes that shows up in the newspaper, but I guarantee you that all of them have a heart for this city. That we can agree on, that is where we start, and from there we work outward and build on that. I dont give up. I work hard, and were going to work hard for this community.

Dale Ross, 512-876-0063, www.dalerossformayor.com

Dale Ross is a certified public accountant and president and founder of L. Dale Ross CPA. Ross served as District 6 councilman from 200811 and as mayor pro tem for one year. As a council member he was on several city boards. Ross also serves as treasurer of the Georgetown Symphony Society and is a past president and treasurer of The Williamson Museum. He has lived in Georgetown with his wife, Mickie, who is the executive director of The Williamson Museum, since 2004.

Why did you decide to run for mayor?

The city of Georgetown has blessed me and my wife, Mickie. We both live here. We live in Old Town. We both work here, and the community has given so much to us. We have an opportunity to live, work, shop here and give back to the community. My wife obviously is very involved in the nonprofit community. I am as well, but my contributions pale in comparison to hers. This is an opportunity to give back to the community thats blessed us.

What makes you the best candidate?

[I] have proven leadership and experience. I will be ready to assume the mayors role on day one with no on-the-job training, but more importantly, in order to lead this great city of ours, you have to understand it. The way you understand it is by having deep roots here, and I have deep roots here. I have my business here. Ive been involved in Georgetown government before, involved in the nonprofit world. In order to lead you have to understand. If you work here, live here and are involved here, that gives you a good, deep understanding. Thats what I believe makes me the best choice to be the next mayor.

What are the biggest challenges facing the city?

The mayor doesnt get to vote, so the mayor can comment on the issues of the day, and those are: We need to maintain our top-rated police, fire and EMS service to keep our community safe. We need to be able to maintain city tax rates at a level that makes it affordable today and tomorrow. Tax rates have increased 27 percent over the last three years. We need to make sure that we have a sustainable water supply for the future, and that involves continuing to do long-range planning today. We need to continually update our comprehensive transportation plan to meet the needs of our growing population. Growth is certainly one of the major issues, and what we need to doand this is keywe need to guide and manage that growth in order to preserve the unique charm of this place we call home.

If elected, how will you address those challenges?

The mayor does not get to vote on these issues, but the mayorif you have the background and you have the proven leadership and experience specific to Georgetownyou can comment on these issues and perhaps persuade City Council to consider your views. The mayor can act as an adviser to City Council. You have the opportunity to comment on these issues, and they can consider your thoughts and maybe that will persuade them to make the best decision that is best for all of Georgetown because the mayor does represent all of Georgetown.

What do you want the voters to know about you?

I am the candidate that is uniquely qualified based on experience and proven leadership to lead this great city of ours. That proven leadership and experience is Georgetown experience and leadership. It goes back to: In order to lead this great city you have to understand it, and in order to understand it, you have to have the experience and proven leadership to do that. I think Georgetown deserves a visionary leader with Georgetown experience. The city deserves a leader that comes to the dais with a mindset of leading this city and making decisions that are best for all of Georgetown. The mayor needs to be a mayor for all of Georgetown, and I believe that I am that unifying leader.

Georgetown ISD board of trustees Place 5 Election

Melanie Dunham, melanie.a.dunham@gmail.com, www.facebook.com/melaniedunhamcampaign

Melanie Dunham has a bachelors degree in English from Texas A&M University. She works as an editor for Austin Family Magazine and a copywriter for The Boot Campaign. She has four daughters.

What are your top priorities?

One of my biggest priorities is making sure that we are competitive in the education landscape. We have a lot of different [charter, private and home schools] that pull our students out of GISD public schools into other campuses. There are a lot of reasons why kids dont attend these public schools, but what I would like to do is make sure we are offering the programs and the types of educational opportunities that those families who are not getting their needs met [would be]able to realize [by attending Georgetown schools]. Weve got over 15,000 school-age children in the district but only 10,000-plus that are attending our schools. We need to identify where we are not meeting the needs of those 5,000 students and what can we do to make it better. I would also like to make sure that we are more appropriately defining success for our students so we dont put a college education as the only marker for success for our students. I want to make sure every level of success is equally valued and represented in our data and what we communicate to our citizens.

Francis Jackson, fcjackson47@gmail.com

Francis Jackson, a retired Georgetown ISD teacher, taught for 17 years, 14 of which were in GISD. Jackson is also retired military and has three children.

What are your top priorities?

We need a new elementary school at Purl [Elementary School]. Its a Title I school, and those kids deserve a new elementary school. I would also like to see individual education plans for the top 3 percent of the students in the 11th and 12th grades.

I would like to see single-member districts [for trustees].

I would like to see [teacher]pay raises with no strings attached.

I want to do a top-down review of all those senior administration jobs to identify those positions that need to be expanded review which ones are balanced, and which ones we could consolidate and eliminate. I would like to see when school principals get their evaluation that they do a climate survey of the school and get a feel of how well they are looked upon by their subordinates.

We need to take on a different attitude [on standardized testing], and that is we pass the test, we check off a block and we move on.

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