Everything you need to know about the Round Rock City Council May 5 elections

Four candidates have filed for positions on the Round Rock City Council dais ahead of the May 5 election.

Two candidates - Matt Baker and Cam Scott - filed for Round Rock City Council Place 3 to replace the outgoing Frank Leffingwell.

Ellie Andrews will challenge incumbent Writ Baese for the Place 5 seat.

Election Day is May 5. Early voting begins April 23 and runs through May 1.

Round Rock City Council Place 3

Matt Baker
Bio: Matt is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a BS in engineering and a graduate of the Texas Extension Service Law Enforcement Training Center. He is also a graduate of the Governor’s Executive Development Program through the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.

Experience: Served as Director for three divisions of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality; licensed peace officer for more than 25 years; served on Round Rock Planning & Zoning Commission


Cam Scott
Bio: Cam Scott is a nearly 11-year resident of Round Rock, after first moving to Williamson County in 1994 to attend Southwestern University. He bought his first house in Round Rock and met his wife Heather here while she was teaching school for Round Rock ISD. They have boy-and-girl twins who are three and an 18-month-old boy. An ordained minister, Cam is an active member and deacon chair at Peace of Christ Church in Round Rock.

Experience: Thirteen years as government relations director for American Cancer Society in Texas; served on Round Rock Transportation & Economic Development Board; served on Round Rock Community Development Advisory Commission; past president of Round Rock Sunrise Rotary Club


How should Round Rock manage its growth?

Baker: Round Rock needs to maintain comprehensive long-term plans that include proper planning and zoning of growth, ensuring basic needs are located in close proximity to everyone, and ensuring basic services are in place and working. It is crucial that we now reserve sufficient drinking water supplies for our city, and begin now on road projects that we know we will need in the next 2-5 years. We also need to partner with our school district to ensure our schools are budgeted and staffed with highly qualified teachers.

Scott: It is essential that we plan ahead–for transportation capacity to avoid making traffic congestion worse and for land use to preserve green space. We should also pursue policies that will have population growth pay for itself, rather than placing the financial responsibilities of population growth on existing residents. Since population growth increases pressure on property taxes, while steady economic growth reduces pressure on tax rates, we must maintain a balanced, healthy economy.

What are the top issues Round Rock is facing?

Baker: First, Round Rock needs strong leadership. The demands on our City will only increase and we need knowledgeable, experienced leaders. Second, we have to have a thorough and comprehensive plan moving forward, to ensure we have sufficient clean drinking water, good roads, good schools, and good safety. And third, we need to maintain and even improve our quality of living. We must address traffic congestion, crime, and economics. We should set policies that continue to attract good businesses and employers. We need to plan ahead now for needed roads and mobility, and we need to make sure we have emergency responders staffed and ready for a growing city of our size.

Scott: The top concerns I hear from Round Rock residents relate to the impacts of growth: #1: traffic congestion, #2: keeping our community safe, and #3: ensuring all citizens feel welcome and engaged as our community becomes more diverse. In addition to tackling challenges like traffic and safety head on, I am committed to being bridge-builder. Community is about more than just the roads and buildings we build – it’s about the relationships we build as well.

What should Round Rock's infrastructure priorities be?

Baker: For the foreseeable future, Round Rock must be focused on fast growth–roads, public safety, and jobs. This starts with proper planning & zoning and good coordination with civic and other government groups. City leaders need to have a good understanding of what the citizens needs are such as areas of growth and evolving traffic patterns. These same leaders then need to establish a long-term goal in coordination with others to ensure infrastructure is built efficiently and maintained over time.

Scott: Building out the infrastructure of the city’s transportation master plan is a priority of mine – to make it easier to get around town in all directions without having to use I-35. As a member of the city’s transportation board for over 5 years, I have voted for countless road projects to expand our transportation capacity, and I understand the challenges and opportunities involved with reducing congestion. We also need to explore innovative transportation alternatives.

Are there enough affordable housing or multifamily unit options in Round Rock?

Baker: As a realtor, I know there is a growing demand for residential properties that can be purchased below $250,000. From speaking to local builders, it seems they are selling them as fast as they can build them. We should always have the supply to meet the demand for future economic growth.

Scott: We have a substantial number of traditional apartment complexes in Round Rock, and I think we should encourage more innovative affordable housing options such as mixed-use developments that also provide opportunities for work, shopping, and recreation. Such developments can also relieve traffic congestion by making more basic necessities available close to home for residents.

What kinds of business does Round Rock need to attract?

Baker: This will change year to year. But I would like to see a broad variety of businesses that meet the everyday needs of our citizens. I hate to see people that live in our city have to travel to another local city for (fill in the blank). I also want to continue to attract solid medical facilities to our area, as well as see our higher education opportunities expand. All of these bring good sustainable jobs to our city while filling a need for our community.

Scott: Ultimately, we need to continue diversifying our economy so we’re not dependent on any one business or industry. Currently Round Rock targets businesses in innovative manufacturing, life sciences and health care, professional and financial services, and technology/computing. This approach ensures we have a diverse assortment of future-oriented businesses that can provide good-paying jobs. I’m also excited Round Rock is attracting businesses with a fun factor like the Nutty Brown Café and Amphitheater!

What does the city need to do in order to secure development longevity for the years to come?

Baker: Strong city leaders who can develop good economic partnerships will ensure the right development for Round Rock’s future. Our City leaders need to listen to our community so we understand the needs and concerns of our citizens and businesses. We should always evaluate our city policies to not only attract new development, but we need to also ensure we’re taking care of the development already hear through strong, sustainable policies and practices.

Scott: For the long-term future of Round Rock both in terms of economics and livability, we need to work to maintain the relative affordability of housing, lower-than- average city property tax rates, a solid public safety record, and a business climate that supports small businesses and entrepreneurship. We also need to explore transportation options to get people to and from work more easily and continue expanding our parks and trails that provide respite in our busy lives.

Round Rock City Council Place 5

Ellie Andrew
Bio: Ellie is a native of Virginia. After living in California for many years and raising a family there, she and her husband Ray moved to Round Rock in 2004. Ellie has been involved with a number of community groups over the years, including the Austin Girls’ Choir; she served on the pastoral council at St. William Catholic Church for three years, and is currently on the board of directors for Texas Home Educators and Shades of Praise Ministries, as well as teaching hula at the Allen R. Baca Senior Center for Senior and Community Activities.

Experience: Experience working with community groups and committees

Writ Baese*
Bio: Writ was elected to the Round Rock City Council in May 2015. Residents of Round Rock for 21 years, he and his wife, Kim, have 2 high school age sons. Writ has an Economics degree from UT Austin and is an owner in Hill Country Payroll, a family business.

Experience: Currently serves as Round Rock City Council Place 5 member; serves on Round Rock Transportation & Economic Development Corporation; served on St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center Board of Trustees; served as Chair of the Round Rock Chamber Board of Directors; served as President of the Rotary Club of Round Rock


How should Round Rock manage its growth?

Andrew: We have to carefully watch how we zone the land for building, especially when it comes to high-density housing. I don’t believe anyone benefits when we overburden our community with endless apartment complexes.

Baese: Round Rock has seen tremendous growth over the last 30 years. The most critical aspect of managing growth is strong, well developed planning. As a city, we are about to begin the update process for Round Rock’s Comprehensive Plan. We also just completed an update to our Transportation Master Plan and we are excited to be in the first phase of implementing the plan.

What are the top issues Round Rock is facing?

Andrew: Rising taxes, overbuilding and traffic.

Baese: Two of the top issues we face are transportation and growth. One of the most important factors what we must keep focused on is that we cannot fix transportation issues on our own. The nature of these challenges calls for solutions that are regional in nature. Working with neighboring cities and counties as well as TxDOT provide us more opportunities and additional outside funds to address roads and congestion.

What should Round Rock's infrastructure priorities be?

Andrew: Safe streets and bridges and water conservation.

Baese: We need to maintain a diligent, ongoing focus on transportation. Every minute we can eliminate from a resident’s commute home to spend time with their family is an important win. One example of this is the Creekbend extension that opened last year–it provides much needed additional north south connectivity and the impacts of each of these new segments can often be noticed across the community.

Are there enough affordable housing or multifamily unit options in Round Rock?

Andrew: We don’t need more apartments, affordable or otherwise. But we definitely need more affordable single-dwelling or duplex homes.

Baese: Round Rock is a great place to live. We have many different housing options and our tax and utility rates are some of the lowest in the region. Round Rock also provides its residents with a wide range of employment opportunities. These things combine to make our community a great value to our residents.

What does the city need to do in order to secure development longevity for the years to come?

Andrew: Round Rock needs to continue to be ahead of trends with regard to land development. Too much high-density building will affect traffic, schools and more.

Baese: Each year the City Council meets for 2-3 days with senior city staff to review and update Round Rock’s Strategic Plan. Within this plan we identify 5 year goals for Round Rock as well as a vision of what the city will look like in 10 years. Once this has been completed, we define a long list of action items for the current year that will guide us to our 5 year goals and the vision for 10 years from today.

What kinds of businesses does Round Rock need to attract?

Andrew: Round Rock could use more businesses that provide catering and event planning services; arts classes (performing arts, fine arts) for adults; specialty grocery stores such as Trader Joe’s.

Baese: The City of Round Rock has a strong economic development partnership with the Round Rock Chamber. As part of the partnership, we just went through a process to reconfirm our target sectors. At their core, these sectors provide outstanding jobs, strong capital investment in our community, and they are great corporate citizens. A few examples of these sectors include bio health / bioscience and innovative manufacturing.


The temporary waiver covering initial vehicle registration, vehicle registration renewal, vehicle titling, renewal of permanent disabled parking placards and 30-day temporary permits will end April 14. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
Officials: No grace period to follow end of statewide waiver for vehicle title, registration requirements

Officials with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles announced April 5 there will be no grace period following the end of the temporary waiver of certain vehicle title and registration requirements this month.

The new tool will give Texans one place to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine through multiple health departments, including the eight DSHS public health regions—which provides public health services to nearly 200 Texas counties—as well as more than a dozen local health entities statewide. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Department of State Health Services launches Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler

The new tool will give Texans one place to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine through multiple health departments, including the eight DSHS public health regions—which provides public health services to nearly 200 Texas counties—as well as more than a dozen local health entities statewide.

Residents wait to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the Delco Activity Center in Northeast Austin on March 13. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
More than 74,000 vaccine first doses coming to Austin-area providers in next week

The total allocation is fewer than the area received last week from the state.

The Centers for Disease Control released new guidance on in-person instruction for K-12 grade schools on March 19. (Courtesy Pexels)
CDC loosens guidelines on social distancing in schools

The updated guidance recommends students maintain 3 feet of social distancing in classrooms while wearing masks.

Rice Stadium Vaccine Site
Texas vaccine rollout: After 90 days, over 2.9 million fully inoculated

That figure represents about 13% of Texans over age 16—roughly one of every seven.

Three weeks after the the state's power grid failed leaving millions of Texans without power amid freezing temperatures, the Public Utility Commission of Texas named Adrianne Brandt as the agency's new director of ERCOT accountability in a news release March 11. (Courtesy Public Utility Commission of Texas)
Public Utility Commission of Texas names new director of ERCOT accountability

Three weeks after the the state's power grid failed leaving millions of Texans without power amid freezing temperatures, the Public Utility Commission of Texas named Adrianne Brandt as the agency's new director of ERCOT accountability in a news release March 11.

Lawmakers have returned to the Capitol for the 87th Texas Legislature. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Proposed curriculum, funding changes: 14 public education bills filed in the 87th Texas Legislature

Hundreds of bills related to public education have been filed in the 87th Texas Legislature, from curriculum requirement additions to funding formula changes.

According to a March 4 news release, the updated guidance includes a face covering requirement for employees and encourages guests to wear a face covering when they are not seated at their table. The updated guidance also maintains key safety protocols like regular cleaning and disinfecting, hand-sanitizing stations, and employee and customer health screenings. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
SURVEY: More than 70% of Texas restaurants still requiring employees to wear masks despite statewide mandate lift

The majority of Texas restaurant owners will choose to continue requiring staff to wear face masks after March 10 when Gov. Greg Abbott's statewide mask mandate lifts, according to the results of an informal survey conducted by the Texas Restaurant Association in early March.

With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's emergency use authorization of a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Cos. of Johnson & Johnson in late February, U.S. residents who want to get inoculated against the coronavirus now have three vaccines to choose from—each with varying degrees of efficacy. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
EXPLAINED: See how the 3 COVID-19 vaccines available in the US stack up

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna—both two-shot vaccines—have higher efficacy rates for preventing illness than the single-shot Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine; the vaccine efficacy rates stand at 95%, 94.1% and 66.3%, respectively.

Dr. Benjamin Neuman, a virologist with the Texas A&M University System, spoke about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in Texas ahead of the March 10 rollback of mask and capacity rules. (Community Impact staff)
Q&A: Virologist discusses COVID-19 response and rollback of state restrictions

Dr. Benjamin Neuman, a virologist with the Texas A&M University System, spoke about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in Texas ahead of the March 10 rollback of mask and capacity rules.

electric grid
ERCOT board developing new emergency response measures, managing financial fallout from winter storm

An emergency meeting of an ERCOT advisory committee made up of independent advisers was convened March 5 after the resignations of several board and of ERCOT CEO Bill Magness. 

Cars wait their turn for a vaccine dose at the Texas Motor Speedway on Feb. 2. The hub was hosted by Denton County Public Health. (Sandra Sadek/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Texas doctor discusses first 3 months of vaccine distribution process

Texas is in its 12th week of statewide vaccine distribution, and an expansion of eligibility for vaccination could come later this spring.