San Marcos City Council Q&A: Scott Gregson

Scott Gregson became involved in San Marcos in 1996 when he invested in a piece of property in south San Marcos. Gregson said the city is at a turning point.

Scott Gregson is running for the Place 5 seat on San Marcos City Council, which came open when current Council Member Ryan Thomason announced he would not seek re-election.

“I don’t want to be Austin,” he said. “I look at Austin to go see what they did wrong. But we have the uniqueness. "We've been [in the middle of the growth in] Austin and San Antonio for years. Now we’re seeing the waves lapping higher on our shores and [similar growth] is coming our direction.”

Gregson said he believes the city could lose the “character and charm” that make San Marcos what it is. In order to avoid becoming a homogeneous part of the I-35 corridor, the city needs smart planning and sustainable growth—in development and employment—to retain its identity, he said.

Gregson said his experience in the private sector and on boards and commissions has prepared him for the responsibilities of serving on City Council.

Gregson serves on the Public Utility Advisory Commission, United Way of Hays County, Central Texas Medical Center Foundation board, Central Texas Medical Center hospice advisory board, Central Texas Medical Center Foundation board of directors, LBJ Museum of San Marcos board of directors, Extended Hour Implementation Task Force and the San Marcos Industrial Development board.

Why are you running? 

I’ve been in business here for 20 years and I’ve lived in the community here for 15. I’ve been very active in the community through boards and commissions over the last 10. I’ve served on 15 public and civic boards and commissions over that period of time. I’ve got a lot of background, plus my years of experience in the commercial or private sector, I bring a lot of business background and experience. Through my activities [I bring] a lot of leadership. I see the city being at a tipping point. We’re on the cusp of becoming a big city. I think that my concerns are as we continue to grow, I don’t want to be come a homogeneous part of the corridor. I want San Marcos to remain a unique city that we all live here and come here for. That’s important to me. I think we have an opportunity. We could easily lose that unique charm. My vision is for 50 years from now, that we have not just a bigger city, because we will, but we have a city that still has that unique character and charm that we know today. That has a good environment, that has great neighborhoods, so we protect our neighborhoods and we protect and respect our river. That’s the kind of city that I want our children to have the opportunity to live in just as we have.

What is the biggest challenge facing the city?

Our continued unbridled growth. We need to really think how through the continued in-migration of lots of folks—the Greater San Marcos Partnership’s consultants review indicates that folks moving here on average have a lower wage than the people already here—we continue to house, feed, provide transportation solutions for not only ourselves but also the new folks we have. Those are the challenges we face. Those can easily overwhelm us to the point that we do lose that character and charm as a city.

How would you have voted on the Cape’s Camp development if you were on council?

I would have voted against it. It’s something we have to live with. I looked at the police reports [the first weekend the apartments were open]. Shame on us. We’ve got to help that neighborhood and we’ve got to resolve that problem that exists and will exist for some time. But we also have to learn from that experience and as a community don’t do that again. That’s why elections are important. Those votes are really important.

We’ve had Sessom Canyon, the Buie Tract, the Capstone project and now we’ve got Cape’s Camp—the Woods. Those are projects—and we have The Retreat—that are butted right up against neighborhoods. We just need to recognize that if we want to have a great city we’ve got to have great neighborhoods. The way to do that is to make sure we place development where development needs to be. The comprehensive master plan helps us do that, but we need as a community to stick by that plan. I’m a proponent for doing just that. Respecting ourselves enough to do that.

Your opponent is a former council member and mayor, but you have never been elected to office in San Marcos. Do you feel that puts you at a bit of a disadvantage?

I don’t feel like it puts me at a disadvantage at all. I feel like it probably puts me at an advantage from the standpoint that I don’t have the baggage of having dealt with [elected office] in the past. We’re speaking of the same issues we were speaking of when [fellow Place 5 candidate Frank Arredondo] was mayor. If we didn’t fix them then, do we expect him to fix them now? Setting that aside, I have a lot of experience. I’ve run companies with sizable numbers of employees in the private sector. I’ve managed businesses where I know the right questions to ask and the right answers to expect and I know from a management perspective and from a contractual perspective how to hold people accountable so that the community, we get what we paid for.

I have been actively supporting candidates for the last decade, who have been aligned with the thoughts that I’ve talked about during my campaign that are more for protecting established neighborhoods, protecting the environment, respecting and protecting our river and making sure our government has true, open transparency and is focused on spending our tax dollars [to attract] career-type jobs. Not just any jobs.

What are your thoughts on the contract negotiations with the Greater San Marcos Partnership earlier this year? Was anything left out of the contract that you would have liked to have seen added?

The issues [in that discussion] were we give $360,000 to that organization. There are a couple of different elements of that. There’s Adriana Cruz and her staff and that’s the nucleus that forms the economic development team for this city. We’ve agreed to contract that as a vendor-agency relationship. The board side, the other folks are investors…open records, sure. Open meetings? I attended some of those board meetings and there’s just not a whole lot that goes on that’s of any kind of proprietary information. They’ve agreed to run those meetings in the spirit of open meetings. Open records are important. Given our size of investment in the deal, if they’re going to unilaterally change the bylaws then we ought to have some say in that. We should have an approval right of who runs the agency side. We should have a say in that…the contract’s a lot better than it was. It was a very initial experiment when we first started it.

I’ve seen the transitions we’ve gone through with the chamber…I’m not looking at this point in time to re-litigate that issue. Let’s not be in the foxhole shooting each other in the back. Let’s go get jobs and once again make sure that we get what we’ve negotiated. We negotiate a good deal and we get the kind of jobs that make sense for our community. A lot of communities chase these deals around and after the incentive expires those companies either come back with their hand out again or they leave. They go to the next community that’s out trying to get jobs.