Relationship building and long-term visions were some of the talking points during the Hutto City Council Place 5 candidate forum hosted by the Hutto Chamber of Commerce on April 14. Place 5 candidates are Christina Bastos, Nicole Calderone, Krystal Kinsey and Zack Miller. The forum was facilitated by Brad Walker, owner of Walker Insurance. Miller was not present for the event.
Early voting for the May 1 election starts April 19 and ends April 27. Here are some of the questions and answers from the forum.
What is your plan to form and maintain strategic and meaningful collaborations with businesses, organizations and nonprofits in the Hutto community?
Christina Bastos: It all boils down to communication. We absolutely have to have better communication between the City Council and all of the organizations that we’re there to represent. If we are to make business and nonprofits and even just in general the residents happier and more capable of doing their work in Hutto, then we absolutely need to hear from them. If we’re not getting that engagement from these organizations to City Council, then City Council needs to reach out to those organizations and ask what do they need, how can we help.
Nicole Calderone: I think that we have the opportunity to sustain and maintain these relationships. We have an opportunity with a fresh council and a fresh manager to be building relationships that may have previously had burnt bridges. Not only is Hutto wanting to move forward and rebuild these strategic relationships that are meaningful, but also the business owners and the developers as well. If I am elected and a representative of the people, it’s important to have those relationships and to be able to set our differences aside.
Krystal Kinsey: I definitely agree with the sentiment of communication—that’s just a huge breakdown. That’s one of the things I have pushed for, if you’ve been to City Council meetings, that’s a consistent platform that I’m always talking about. When a development comes in and they’re going for zoning, residents have to be notified. Existing Hutto businesses, they need support as well and I really feel like there is a big job there with the city to maintain that relationship with the chamber. I think that that relationship is going to be at the top of my to-do list, making sure that ourselves and the chamber is starting out on the right foot.
How does your prior professional experience make you the best candidate for this position?
Bastos: I am a homeschooling mother of four that are 10 and under. I’ve served on several HOA boards, I’m currently the vice president of the HOA board here in our neighborhood so that’s given me some insight into neighborhood management. In terms of city management, I have done a lot of research. I found it such a fascinating deep dive into the city’s charter, that has given me so much line by line in-depth knowledge about how our city was structured and how it’s meant to be governed.
Calderone: The heart of my professional experience centers around customer service. If elected as a City Council member, the people of the community are my customers. I feel like I can listen to them and come up with innovative solutions for their issues.
Kinsey: I am an educator at heart, I always have been. I am currently an assistant director at an academy in Cedar Park, so I deal every day with children, lots of families, adults. Really being able to have that leadership role, have the ability to wear many hats.
What is your long-term vision for the city of Hutto?
Bastos: I think we really need to consider that, with all the development that’s going in, in a generation from now, all of the roads, pipes, pumps and valves are all going to need to replaced at the exact same time because they’re all going to deteriorate at the exact same rate. We really have to consider that when we’re building new developments, just the level of infrastructure, maintenance and costs that are going to be incurred by the city over a long-term plan.
Calderone: My long-term vision is that we can come up with a master plan, comprehensive plan, that engages the community. I’ve seen cities use a new crowdsourcing tool online that I think that type of software would benefit us. It’s not just a survey, it’s an interactive survey. So not only do you get ideas from the community, but other community members are able to agree or disagree or expand on the ideas as well. When you get the community buy-in like that, and we’re gathering information from as many people as we possibly can, I see the vision for Hutto as the best possible development that we could get.
Kinsey: The next couple of years are going to be really hard for Hutto. This comprehensive plan needs to have a lot of work go into it. Once we can really actually get a plan going, I really think that that is what’s going to hopefully springboard Hutto into being more attractive to businesses.