Kyle City Council candidates participate in chamber-hosted forum

Kyle City Council candidates discussed their ideas April 28 for growing Kyle's economy while addressing its infrastructure needs.

The Kyle Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a political forum ahead of the May 9 election in which two council seats are up for grabs.

Councilwoman Tammy Swaton is seeking a first full term on the council after taking over for former Councilman Ray Bryant, who resigned before his term expired. Swaton took office by virtue of running unopposed.

Roads are among her top priorities, she said. Before Swaton was elected progress on implementing the five road projects approved in a May 2013 bond election had been at a standstill, she said. She said she has worked with the current council to move those projects forward.

"I'd like the chance to be able to continue what I started," Swaton said.

Banker Dex Ellison and accountant Daphne Tenorio are also vying for the seat. Voting for this race is open only to those living in District 6, which encompasses the northern part of the city, including the Kensington Trails and Indian Paintbrush neighborhoods.

Both candidates said their experience as community volunteers would make them good representatives of the district. Ellison said he has been walking door-to-door to get perspectives on what issues residents feel are the most important.

"I really take serious the title of being a representative," he said. "If I'm elected to council I don't want to go on there with my own agenda and pushing my own ideas. It's not just me who lives in the city, it's all of us."

A mother of two who has volunteered at Hays CISD schools in various roles, Tenorio said she would work to maintain the city's affordability for families. To do that, she said, the city must attract economic development.

Tenorio said she would like to be a part of developing a business incubator for new and small businesses.

"One of the things I grew up with as a child in a family of small business owners was the knowledge of how hard it is to own a small business," she said. "I want to ensure that we work as a city to streamline regulations to make it easier and more effective for small business owners."

In the District 5 race, incumbent Samantha Bellows-LeMense opted not to seek another term.

Damon Fogley, an EMS paramedic; Laurie Luttrell, a business manager; and former Councilman Jaime Sanchez are in the running to fill the seat. The District 5 seat is elected at-large, so voting is open to all Kyle voters.

Fogley said Kyle faces "a lot of challenges," with public safety being among his chief concerns. He said he plans to boost the "underfunded" Kyle Police Department and work with the emergency services districts in the area.

When it comes to economic development, Fogley said the city must work to diversify its tax base but should be prudent with its resources and set standards for offering incentives such as tax abatements.

"We do need to give incentives, but they need to be well-managed incentives," he said.

Luttrell said as a former small business owner, she offers a perspective the council currently lacks.

"We need someone who can represent the business community," she said.

She said, however, that she strongly supports the current policies of the city's economic development department.

Luttrell said her top priorities include roads and public safety.

Sanchez, whose background is in engineering, emphasized his experience with public projects, such as road construction. He said the city could have been more creative in seeking alternative funding for its five road bond projects. Instead, he said, the city's taxpayers are carrying the burden.

If elected, Sanchez said he would support an I-35-specific comprehensive plan that could help guide growth along the corridor.

"You need to define [the right forms of development] so that you know what is growing [on I-35] in the future," he said.

Early voting is occurring through May 5 and will be held at Kyle City Hall, 100 W. Center St., Kyle. Election day polling will take place May 9 at Kyle City Hall as well as Chapa Middle School, 3311 Dacy Lane, Kyle, and Wallace Middle School, 1302 W. Center St., Kyle. The schedule is as follows:

Early voting:

April 29-30: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

May 1: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

May 2: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

May 4: 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

May 5: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Election day voting:

May 9: 7 a.m.-7 p.m.