Election Q&A: Reedholm challenges incumbent Fought for Georgetown City Council District 4

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A version of this Q&A with Steve Fought and Joe Reedholm, candidates for Georgetown City Council District 4, appears on Page 15 of the April 2019 issue of Community Impact Newspaper’s Georgetown edition.

Candidates’ answers are their own and were only edited for length or minor style changes.

Early voting runs April 22-30. Election day is May 4.

The candidates

Steve Fought (incumbent)

Experience: Georgetown Economic Development Corporation member, previous president; Georgetown Utility Systems advisory board member; Georgetown general government and finance advisory board member and chairperson; Sun City board of directors vice president
Top priorities: maintain public safety and “small town” character of Georgetown; make growth pay for growth by using impact fees, development agreements, and financial policies
www.stevefought.com

Joe Reedholm

Experience: former president and CEO of Reedholm Instruments from 1983-2015, design engineer manager, vice-president of a multinational company
Top priorities: honest, excuse-free energy; infrastructure first, not last; keep Georgetown’s charm; we are owners, not buyers; residents are superior to the council, not the other way around
www.reedholm4council.com

Why are you running for this position?

Fought: Georgetown is the best place (my wife) Gina and I have ever lived, and we have lived in a lot of good places. It didn’t get that way by accident. It took a lot of work by good people over a long period of time to make it that way. Now it’s up to us to keep it that way. I am retired, have time to serve this community, have done so in Sun City and for nearly six years on council. If elected, this will be my third and final term, and I intend to complete several projects which I initiated.

Reedholm: Our manufacturing company was recruited here in 1994 by the LCRA (Lower Colorado River Authority), and we selected Georgetown. No incentives were offered or needed to get us here. But sometimes a shiny surface hides a dark undercurrent. For us, that was the Georgetown Industrial Foundation, which exemplified inappropriate and amateur “development” dabbling by the city. Despite my frustrations with the city’s continued dabbling, I had no desire to run for council. What reward would it be to jump into the mess created by the energy debacle? Fortunately, my wife and I share deep-seated beliefs, like the Dr. Seuss statement on our matching T-shirts: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. No, it is not.”

What project or policy initiative needs to take priority on City Council?

Fought: (Georgetown Utility System’s) financial situation. The primary cause of the 2018 losses was the “long” positions associated with a strategy to buy excess energy to accommodate Georgetown’s growth and sell the excess into the (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) market until growth consumed the excess. We are in the process of selling near-term excess blocks of energy; turning trading over to a large, experienced firm; restructuring the GUS board and staff; and examining the fundamental questions of whether or not the city should own a utility company and/or opening the electric utility market to competition. The problems have been recognized, and solutions are in motion.

Reedholm: The council needs to address the lack of transparency and unethical behavior. It doesn’t take much management experience to know that lack of transparency and authoritarian control leads to crappy decisions.

How do you think you stand out as a candidate?

Fought: First, my newsletter which I use to explain the competing views on major issues, solicit input from residents, and then explain my votes. This newsletter reaches nearly 6,000 individuals and is a seminal example of transparency, openness and connectivity with constituents, which is unmatched by any other council member or candidate. Second, I am thoroughly grounded in constituent issues through my service on the Sun City board of directors and various governance committees. Finally, I have hands-on experience and insight into city, county and state matters which can only be achieved through experience.

Reedholm: Besides running our manufacturing business, Reedholm Instruments, for 33 years, I have been in charge of operations at companies as large as Georgetown’s, so am able to understand and deal with complex management or technical issues. I cannot understand how the incumbent voted to go long on renewable energy when several people with considerable experience in energy trading warned the (Georgetown Utility Systems) board. Plus, when I goof, I admit it without blaming others.

What has City Council done well, and what could it do better?

Fought: Done well: cost-effective delivery of services, including police, fire and EMS; water, wastewater and electric utilities; roads and sidewalks; and a wide range of amenities (parks and recreation). Georgetown is one of the three lowest cost-of-city service municipalities in the region. The efficiency and effectiveness of services’ cost is a large part of the picture which draws so many people to our town. Could do better: Williams Drive is not the only roadway which is overcrowded. We need more ways to “bypass” traffic congestion, more dispersed commercial activity to channel traffic, and more streamlined traffic patterns with protected turn lanes.

Reedholm: I guess you could say they have done a good job of leading the developers’ parade. Even with traffic congestion on Williams Drive, some council members proudly talk about new development around Sun City. Instead of leading the parade, council should be a check on city management, not an integral part of it.

What else should voters know about you?

Fought: When I was elected to the council I promised to do at most three terms: The first to learn the ropes; the second to “get things done”; and if given a third and final term, to focus on making lasting contributions to the community. This would be my third term and I have three contributions which I want to complete: facilitate development of an in-patient, residential setting hospice center; define residential and commercial development in the vicinity of Sun City; give HARC (Historic and Architectural Review Commission) the resources to become a partner with property owners in preserving our historic assets.

Reedholm: While my wife and I settled in our new city, Karolyn was asked to be part of the Georgetown Project in 1997. That disparate board of directors spanned the political spectrum, inspired by the book, “All Kids Are Our Kids”. What a great welcome for us, and our children who shepherded nine grandkids through Georgetown ISD. In addition to caring about what happens to all of the kids in Georgetown, my wife can attest that I am more fiscally conservative than anyone she knows.

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