Three candidates are vying for Round Rock mayor. Incumbent Alan McGraw announced he would not seek another term. In-person early voting is April 24-29, May 1-2. The last day to apply for a ballot by mail is April 25 and election day is May 6. The candidates, in alphabetical order include Josh Couture, Hilda Montgomery and Craig Morgan. Community Impact Newspaper asked questions of each candidate. Their answers are printed with limited editing.
COUTURE: I am a native to Round Rock and a product of the RRISD system. I have a strong first hand relationship with the community and being 18 years-old, this is the first year I'm eligible to gain experience to be their Mayor.
MONTGOMERY: I was recruited to Central Texas by Dell and have lived in Round Rock for nearly 17 years. With 30 years of leadership in corporate America I have accumulated a wide breadth of experience in customer service, project management, and consensus building that will allow me to analyze and evaluate the choices facing Round Rock to advocate for the best outcome. In addition, I have volunteered with numerous local groups and non-profits including Caritas, the Food Pantry, and the Round Rock Serving Center.
MORGAN: Current mayor pro-tem. I have served on the City Council for six years.
2. What are the major issues you see facing Round Rock and what are the solutions?
MONTGOMERY: Round Rock is at a crossroads and the decisions we make over the next few years will determine the future of our community. Our small and local businesses are being priced out, long-time residents are finding it challenging to continue to affordably live here, and our roadways are mired in traffic and unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians. We must do a better job managing our growth and including everyone in the decisions we make.
We need comprehensive local and regional public transit as well as safer streets and connected pedestrian pathways. In addition we must focus more on programs for small and local businesses, especially women and minority-owned businesses. Our kids and seniors deserve more enrichment and educational programs where cost is not a barrier to participation. Last, community engagement must improve across the board. We need to make it easier to participate in city government not harder.
MORGAN: The biggest issue facing Round Rock is the rapid growth of the city. Although growth can be good for a community, it also creates pressures on infrastructure, public safety, transportation and overall quality of life. Beginning with my initial term, the city council has created a strategic plan for one year, five years and twenty years. Each year the council reviews that strategic plan, along with the goals set by council from the previous year. The council must do our best to create strategies to balance the growth and to handle the future growth. I do not know if there is a one size fit all solution to these issues, I believe it is a number of solutions and good planning that provides the best opportunities to meet these demands. It is imperative we continue to plan for the future so that the impact of this growth will be minimal to our citizens’ daily lives.
COUTURE: The library is a major issue in Round Rock. It desperately needs improvements but the city has not done anything about the bonds approved to make those improvements. I also see a growing demand for the improvements of parks, trails, and transportation options. This can be solved if the City Council worked on their communication skills with the people. They need to ask the citizens of Round rock for input more often and take their responses seriously. The community needs to know things are getting done at city hall and that they're getting done for them.
3. What type of businesses do you think Round Rock should attract?
MORGAN: Creating an environment for companies to consider moving to Round Rock or even expanding a current business is one of the most important functions as a city leader. It is the council’s job, along with the Round Rock Chamber, to create a business friendly environment that makes Round Rock appealing. It is important that we look at the capital investment a company will be bring to the city along with the number of jobs. Furthermore, what are these companies paying their employees, what benefits are offered to their employees. I want jobs that provide good benefits, a good salary, a good corporate partner with the city, and to make a major investment in our community. During my six years, I believe the city has been very successful attracting these types of companies.
COUTURE: Round Rock should attract small, local businesses. Ones that add to our city's identity as a family-friendly, community oriented place. We shouldn't be attracting tourists but rather families, homeowners, local shops, and service providers that are willing to build on Round Rock's community appeal.
MONTGOMERY: Round Rock should attract businesses that are beneficial to the community where there is clearly some reciprocity. We should encourage businesses that value the rich, diverse community that we have here and want to grow with us and we must do more to support small and local businesses and first-time business owners. In addition, we should support entrepreneurs who have visions for a clean environment and sustainable future.