Election Q&A: Meet the candidates for Hutto ISD, Hutto City Council

Meet the candidates running for Hutto ISD and Hutto City Council. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Meet the candidates running for Hutto ISD and Hutto City Council. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Meet the candidates running for Hutto ISD and Hutto City Council. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)



HUTTO



Hutto ISD










Mina Davis



Occupation: Data Scientist


Experience: Bachelor of Science in business intelligence and analytics from Creighton University






What will be your top priorities if you are elected?



MD: My top priorities would be to continue to maintain a healthy budget for smart growth, continue to provide the necessary resources for the underserved in our community and encourage the growth [of] career academies that would help prepare our students and families for the future.



What uniquely qualifies you for this position?



MD: I have been a public school advocate for a long time. I also have been in a position to see the most underserved in our community and serve on three boards that allow me to interact with vastly different parts of the community. I can bring perspective, compassion and dedication to the board by the work I have done in the greater community.



What is the greatest challenge facing the district?



MD: The greatest challenge facing the district is managing the explosive growth that is bringing a more diverse population to Hutto ISD. I want to review our budget for smart growth that will help us plan for potential new buildings, while continuing to look into programs that would serve our students and make the district competitive.









Amy English



Occupation: Real estate broker/owner


Experience: Business owner, background in local real estate






What will be your top priorities if you are elected?



AE: Addressing the pandemic’s impact on our ISD, including bridging the educational gaps due to lost instruction time and the emotional impact, and establishing equitable learning policies. We can manage growth through city relationships to ensure we have the infrastructure and can find alternative funding to lessen tax burdens.



What uniquely qualifies you for this position?



AE: As a 30-year resident of Hutto, I am completely invested in this community. I have had children in Hutto ISD for the past 15 years. I have had the opportunity to play an active role in public, private and home-school settings. These experiences and my business background, allow me to see things from different perspectives.



What is the greatest challenge facing the district?



AE: The biggest issue is recovering from the pandemic’s effects. I will advocate for quality diagnostic testing to evaluate where the academic gaps exist and will advocate for trauma support for all stakeholders to begin the healing process and our road to recovery. This will not be an easy task, but I know our Hippo Nation can rise above.









James Matlock



Occupation: Financial analyst


Experience: bachelor’s in finance, MS in accounting, financial management






What will be your top priorities if you are elected?



JM: Finding balance in an ever-changing educational landscape, between in-person and virtual learning. No child can be expected to strive in an unsafe environment. I will focus on Hutto’s underserved communities to find the root cause of achievement gaps and how to close them. I want to increase communication with district stakeholders.



What uniquely qualifies you for this position?



JM: As a parent to a special needs child, I know what it is like to devote your life to advocacy and I feel qualified to lend my perspective to the board. In my professional career, I understand the decision making process for budgets, debt issuances and taxes. This will help me to ask the tough questions and explain how decisions are being made.



What is the greatest challenge facing the district?



JM: Rapid growth. With new subdivisions being built, HISD has to prepare for larger enrollment numbers while keeping the hippo standard of education high. Understanding population and construction forecast timelines and making proactive decisions about them will help spread the financial burden on the citizen.






HUTTO



Hutto City Council Place 2










Rick Hudson



Occupation: U.S. Army, retired


Experience: BAAS in management and communication






What will be your top priorities if you are elected?



RH: My top priorities are to broaden the planning focus to make the city more proactive than reactive, proper budgeting to meet the city’s needs and the planned goals, attracting commercial development that is both needed and wanted in Hutto, improving all types of communication between the city and the citizen, and increasing citizen involvement in city business.



What uniquely qualifies you for this position?



RH: As a citizen volunteer, I have participated in several planning and development projects for Hutto since 2017. I have advocated for better city communications and increased citizen participation for just as long. The current City Council needs someone comfortable with long-range planning. Managing Hutto’s growth and challenges demands citizen participation and a long-range vision that I can bring to the dais.



What do you think it the greatest challenge facing the city?



RH: Hutto’s infrastructure has lagged behind its growth for nearly a decade and is reaching a tipping point. Some projections put our population at over 75,000 by 2031, and the city is not set up to provide that level of service. Water, wastewater, traffic and other infrastructure actions and projects have been delayed or shelved. We’re already behind on these actions, so we have to put in the hard work right now.









Jimmy Pierce



Occupation: Owner, Jimmy Pierce Designs


Experience: BFA theater design, manufacturing, facilities manager, project manager, craftsman


Contact: Facebook: Pierce for Hutto




What will be your top priorities if you are elected?



JP: I want to push business growth, both large and small. We need to complete projects that have been started or promised. We need to secure utilities and work to get the fees down for residents. This will take some time but a plan needs to be put into place. We need to quire suffering things around to hide things from the citizens.



What uniquely qualifies you for this position?



JP: I am a long term resident. I went to high school here and watched the town grow. Even when I went off to college and lived elsewhere I was back here often and kept up with how things went. Growth is coming no matter what the council does, and the council needs to worry more about the people that live here and what they need.



What do you think it the greatest challenge facing the city?



JP: Division, everyone thinks they have the right idea.









Dan Thornton (incumbent)



Occupation: firmware engineer at Cornerstone Technical Consulting


Experience: BS, electrical engineering, MS, computer engineering, IBM






What will be your top priorities if you are elected?



DT: The top priorities are improving the capacity and resilience of our water and wastewater systems; reducing the tax and utility burdens on our citizens; completing planned road and drainage improvement projects; increasing commercial growth; and fulfilling old promises made to neighborhoods years ago.



What uniquely qualifies you for this position?



DT: I’ve served the city on a number of boards from the Parks Advisory Board to the Community Development Corp. (CDC/EDC), Cottonwood Development Corp. and Rivercreek Development Corp. I’m up to speed and ready to contribute across the board on the issues facing the city.



What do you think it the greatest challenge facing the city?



DT: We are still recovering from a wave of overspending. The reduced staff and services along with the large amount of debt carried by the city require careful budgeting to maintain public safety while restoring our capacity in parks, the library and a variety of other services over time.






HUTTO



Hutto City Council Place 5










Christina Bastos



Occupation: Mother of four


Experience: I currently serve on the Parks Advisory Board and recently served on the Charter Review Commission






What will be your top priorities if you are elected?



CB: I would like to participate in the discussion to continue the current City Council’s path towards transparency and fiscal responsibility and would like to help shape the direction and planning for growth and expansion. We need to focus on water distribution, infrastructure and alleviating traffic concerns.



What do you think is the greatest challenge facing the city?



CB: Fiscal responsibility and water distribution are crucial. I want to see an emergency plan created and practiced. The recent snow storm left thousands of residents without power or water and no designated shelter. We must have an accessible natural disaster plan should we be faced with another crisis.









Nicole Calerdone



Occupation: Logistics supervisor at Austin Homebrew Supply


Experience: Specialist in guest services, educator, business manager, and service industry professional. HOA president






What will be your top priorities if you are elected?



NC: Preparing for growth by balancing infrastructure improvements while maintaining a lean budget. I will focus on streamlining standard operating procedures, code requirements and clarifying protocols to better guide decision-making and avoid overburdening current residents with rate-hikes.



What do you think is the greatest challenge facing the city?



NC: Overcoming matters that have affected our ability to make educated decisions. The lack of transparency has resulted in a water crisis, layoffs, debt, haphazard growth and a social divide. I will be fiscally conservative, hold myself and others accountable and listen to residents’ concerns.









Krystal Kinsey



Occupation: Assistant director of the Cadence Academy


Experience: BS in biology, BA in history, Associate of Applied Science in early childhood education






What will be your top priorities if you are elected?



KK: We need to get more citizens involved in boards and commissions. Completing the city’s website. Review and ensure that financial policies are in place and enforced. Improve how the city notifies citizens of projects and educating them on how development works. Diversify the city’s tax base.



What do you think is the greatest challenge facing the city?



KK: Diversifying the tax base. If we can bring in more retail, commercial and industrial this will add to our tax base. Non-residential land development will bring in more impact fees while adding other revenue for the city. We must bring in more revenue while incurring as little cost to the city.









Zack Miller



Occupation: Owner/sole operator of Miller’s Outpost Fencing & Handyman Services


Experience: BS in public administration; retired U.S. Army; former police officer at UT Austin PD


Website: Facebook: Zack Miller for Hutto City Council




What will be your top priorities if you are elected?



ZM: Crime prevention and city council ownership. I would like to look at “assigning” each council member a specific section of the city to allow a more focused approach and citizen representation. I’d like to coordinate with Hutto PD and Code Enforcement on crime prevention strategies.



What do you think is the greatest challenge facing the city?



ZM: Hutto is still recovering from several years of gross mismanagement that resulted in high employee turnover, budget shortfalls and numerous litigations. Transparency is key to reestablish citizens’ trust in elected officials. People have a right to know what we’re doing is in their best interest.


Megan Cardona