San Marcos mayor Q&A

Daniel Guerrero is seeking re-election to the mayor's seat, which he has held since 2010. He is being challenged by Jonathan Sorenson and Patrick Montgomery. Early voting for this race and others in the cities of Buda and San Marcos as well as Hays County takes place Oct. 20–Oct. 31. Election Day is Nov. 4. For more information about voting times and locations, look for the Election Guide in the next issue of Community Impact Newspaper, out on Oct. 16.

Why are you running?

Guerrero: I am seeking a third term as mayor so that we may continue to invest in our community's infrastructure, housing, work force development, transportation and environmental protection needs in collaboration with our neighborhoods and community partners. Our community has made significant progress over the past four years by investing in roadways, sidewalks, beautification efforts, parkland acquisition, airport improvements and river preservation.

Sorenson: I want to offer an alternative to the status quo in San Marcos politics. City Council needs the trust of our community in order to successfully implement our new comprehensive plan and I want to facilitate regaining that trust by showing our community what can be done when City Council is working for them and not third party interests.

Montgomery: I am running because I believe the people are not well represented in the decision-making process of our city government. As an active citizen that attends City Council, Planning & Zoning and community round ups, one thing is clear: the citizens are persona non-grata in the current growth and development of San Marcos. Texas State students are the cash cow of this perceived growth. There is currently no other form of economy established for the town outside of the existence of the university. Economic diversity should be addressed with action if we are to stand on our own as a city.

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

Guerrero: Our community has faced challenges in regards to job creation, water resources, single-family home demands, environmental protection, public safety and others. Community leaders have been successful in addressing these issues through regional economic development partnerships, water acquisition collaborations, innovative housing financing partnership, and regionally plans to protect the river and aquifer. We have always risen as a united community to address issues and have reached out to neighboring communities to share ideas. Our greatest need is to continue to maximize our local community relationships. We are a great community when we focus on what unites us, rather than what may divide us.

Sorenson: Our biggest challenge is attracting jobs that pay well and offer stability to our families as well as encourage Texas State graduates to stay in San Marcos and become productive members of our local economy. For as many election cycles as I can remember, we have heard council candidates campaign on getting high paying, stable jobs to San Marcos and we have yet to see any significant change. It's time to end the rhetoric and get to work.

Montgomery: Growing too fast. Development is exceeding our growth and we need to focus on growth from within our boundaries. Under my leadership, the city of San Marcos will be putting you–our current residents–ahead of the interests of developers and future residents. My vision, GROW SAN MARCOS, is an initiative to jump start the economy of our city by identifying and utilizing the natural resources and local talent within its boundaries to create a foundation of commerce and prosperity.

San Marcos has been named the fastest-growing city in the country for two consecutive years. What can be done to ensure that growth continues in a healthy, responsible way?

Guerrero: Over the past three years the community has worked collectively to develop a comprehensive master plan to articulate a vision for the growth of San Marcos. The City Council has worked diligently to move forward on the implementation points of the plan and assembled community representatives to help coordinate our efforts. Over the next few years we will continue to update our land development code, seek community input, and identify new ways to invest in smart growth initiatives for San Marcos. Through these efforts we will invest in new home development, job creation, improved public schools, neighborhood and park preservation.

Sorenson: By adhering to the spirit of our new comprehensive plan, healthy and responsible growth is achievable. This will require a significant shift from multi-family to single-family development and a commitment from City Council, P&Z, and city staff to ensuring that our growth is sustainable and balanced.

Montgomery: 1st of all San Marcos is not the fastest growing city in the country. This is am empty slogan created by the Greater San Marcos Partnership in efforts to generate public interest in our town. This is a complete bluff. The truth is that Texas State University is the fastest growing University in the country and the current development we see throughout our town supports this claim. This is a classic case of putting the cart before the horse. Growth and development go hand in hand. Developers have thrown the cart into the public eye without any real growth to support the claim. So to answer the question, we need to actually create this perceived growth internally. By establishing our foundation of growth locally, this will attract other like minded individuals and businesses from major markets to relocate and become a part of the San Marcos community.

Do you believe the city is too lax in regulating developments in close proximity to delicate environmental features (the river, recharge zones, etc)? Why or why not?

Guerrero: The City of San Marcos has worked diligently with the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality, Edwards Aquifer Authority, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Department of Transportation and other local, county, state and federal entities to ensure that enforcement of regulations. When issues have arisen, the city has immediately investigated causality and implemented improvement measures in a fair and appropriate manner. I believe that the city and its leaders have been good stewards in evaluating development in environmentally sensitive areas and will continue to work in conjunction with local, state and federal regulations to protect our environment and balance development proposals.

Sorenson: I opposed the Lazy Oaks development just as I opposed the Cape's Camp development based solely on their environmentally sensitive locations. I believe the city should take a more aggressively proactive position when it comes to these types of developments otherwise we will undoubtedly see more sewage spills and similar potentially devastating accidents occur in these environmentally sensitive areas. We only have one river and one aquifer. We have to protect them now.

Montgomery: I absolutely believe the city is very lax in regulating developments in close proximity to the environmental features of San Marcos. I have witnessed too many times our elected officials jump at the opportunity to approve these developments for the tax incentives and putting that over the environmental concerns of the property. La Cima wastewater lines will be built over the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. Capes Camp is known for its riches of artifacts and there was no dirt test to support that claim. Back in September, construction workers struck a raw sewage line that spilled 15,000 gallons into our clean crystal clear river! Both of these developments went in front of our City Council in which our current mayor voted in favor for! Our river, recharge zones, green space and cave systems all create our quality of life that we as San Martians believe to be a major priority to co-exist with and not harm as we live here. Developments like La Cima and Capes Camp are [discordant] as well as disrespectful to the citizens' viewpoint of development around our environmentally sensitive areas and these very same citizens have challenged our mayor and City Council about these types of developments time and time again. Only to fall on deaf ears as our elected officials vote for these kinds of negligent developments. Approving such developments shows our desperation in trying to generate income for the city. San Marcos is known as one of the oldest continually inhabited areas in the Americas, spanning 13,000 years. Its has been a place of transcendence and this is what we are doing with it? There are other ways.

What can the city do to attract more high wage jobs?

Guerrero: The city will continue to work with our regional partners to promote our assets such as our proximity on the I-35 corridor, regional airport, new investments in transportation infrastructure and commuter rail, enhancements in water resources and electric utility infrastructure, and growth in our single-family housing portfolio. As mayor, I will continue to enhance our relationship with Texas State University and San Marcos CISD to promote the University's Science Technology and Research Park, as they develop our next generation of materials and products, and the district's new pre-kindergarten center as they educate our next generations.

Sorenson: Attracting high wage jobs to San Marcos starts by showing potential employers that we provide a business friendly environment as well as a family friendly environment. This starts by building more homes and providing corporate and commercial complexes that can meet the needs of a wide variety of potential employers. We must also maintain an environment that encourages entrepreneurism and supports small business as they continue to be the backbone of the San Marcos economy.

Montgomery: San Marcos is positioned between 2 cities that rank among the top 10 cities for jobs in 2014 in the nation and the Greater San Marcos Partnership has a $350k budget given to them by the city to promote our town and to bring large companies here...and you mean to tell me that they are unsuccessful in achieving this goal? They cannot possibly be trying...at all. Again my proposal would be to start within our boundaries and let our productivity attract those companies that will provide higher wages. Another area of talent that passes through our town 8 months out of the year are the students of Texas State University. One of their blue chip departments is mass communication and media. I would suggest city officials tap into this wealth of talent and attract company's that would help retain graduates to work here in San Marcos.
By Brett Thorne
Brett Thorne reported on education, business, economic development and city government in San Marcos, Kyle and Buda from 2012 to 2017. Thorne attended Texas State University in San Marcos, where he graduated in 2010. He joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in 2012 and was promoted to editor in 2013.


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