San Marcos City Council candidates speak about jobs, housing, Texas State at forum

Candidates who are running for seats on the San Marcos City Council in the Nov. 5 elections give their opening statements at the Sept. 4 forum organized by the Four Rivers Association of Realtors and the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce.

Candidates who are running for seats on the San Marcos City Council in the Nov. 5 elections give their opening statements at the Sept. 4 forum organized by the Four Rivers Association of Realtors and the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce.

Workforce housing and economic development were among the major topics covered at the Sept. 4 candidate forum held at the San Marcos Recreation Hall.

The forum, which included candidates who are running for Places 1 and 2 on the San Marcos City Council, was organized by the Four Rivers Association of Realtors and the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce.

This was the second year that the chamber partnered with Four Rivers for the event. More than 60 people attended the forum, which was moderated by Keely Sonlitner, who serves as co-chair of the association’s governmental affairs subcommittee.

“This is my third year participating in the event; it has always been very well-attended. We think it’s very important for the realtors,” Sonlitner said.

Sonlitner asked questions regarding a variety of subjects, including housing, job growth, local business development and property rights. Candidates also had a chance to speak broadly on their leadership and priorities.

Place 1 candidates Maxfield Baker and Mark Gleason—who both currently serve on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission—were asked how they plan to address workforce housing.

A lack of housing that is affordable for the city’s workforce has been one of the five priorities of the San Marcos City Council. In September 2018, the council created a Workforce Housing Task Force to develop solutions to address the shortage.

“First off, without good-paying jobs and the opportunity for citizens to thrive, it’ll be very difficult to impact the affordable housing question,” Gleason said.

Additionally, Gleason said the city’s new development code, created in April 2018, allowed for flexibility that would help city leaders address a lack of workforce housing. He also said he will focus on keeping property taxes low.

Baker said he would be committed to bringing better-paying jobs to San Marcos. He added that he thinks the city should leverage its resources to bring in developers who are willing to build affordable housing.

“A lot of times, we hear that our issue is that we simply do not have enough housing to fix this issue. And frankly, when we look at the density in other cities, we see that density does not necessarily bring the price down,” Baker said.

Baker said he would also like to help residents better understand how they can fight rising property appraisals, which means higher property taxes.

One of the questions addressed to City Council Place 2 candidates was regarding the relationship between Texas State University students and the city’s existing residents.

Devin Barrett, who currently attends the university, said he would try to identify issues that the two resident populations can work on together.

“I’m a student, so I think having a student on the City Council would already greatly improve relationships,” Barrett said. “To ensure that TSU and the city of San Marcos has a great working relationship, I want to itemize and find out what issues we can agree on.”

Lisa Maria Coppoletta, or LMC, a professor at Austin Community College, pitched an idea for a symposium that would bring city and university leaders together.

“I would like to have some sort of symposium where we invite Texas State and we have a robust attendance of those who are committed to historic preservation, those who are committed to our river, our business community, our green builders and developers to have a voice—a dialogue out in the open public forum, not closed-door meetings where we’re wondering, ‘What ever happened with that dialogue?’”

Saul Gonzales, the Place 2 incumbent, said he would address the problem by speaking directly to university leadership, including its president.

“What I would like to see is better dialogue with the university,” Gonzales said.

Amy Martin, who works in the local real estate industry, said she enjoyed the forum and the opportunity to hear from all of the candidates.

“It was great to see everyone’s perspective on what they thought were the biggest issues facing San Marcos,” she said.

Clinton Hoerner attended the forum with his wife, Denise. The couple said they came to the event simply as residents interested in the candidates.

“I think that’s going to be a big issue—the university and the city working together,” Denise said.

Members of the Four Rivers who attended the event will be given a chance to express which candidates they support in an informal vote. With these members in mind, the organization’s governmental affairs subcommittee will deliberate and decide who the Four Rivers will endorse.

Sonlitner said the organization could also decide to give financial help to candidates. In the past, it has donated between $1,000-$1,500 to candidates, though larger amounts have been given out in the past.

Candidates, in addition to sharing their thoughts at the forum, also answered questions that the Four Rivers governmental affairs subcommittee will review before announcing its decision.

Sonlitner told Community Impact Newspaper that the local realtor association has announced the organization’s selections for endorsements about a month after the forum in previous elections.

Editors Note: This post has been updated with correct information regarding the Four Rivers Associations of Realtors' endorsement process. We regret the error. 


MOST RECENT

The beer garden The Good Lot will be located at 2500 W. New Hope Drive, Cedar Park, near Veterans Memorial Park. (Courtesy Unsplash)
Beer garden The Good Lot coming soon to Cedar Park and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Austin area.

The early releases will begin Nov. 11 and includes 17 days through the rest of the school year. (Community Impact Newspaper file photo)
Leander ISD adds early-release days and more top Central Texas news from this week

Read the top stories from the past week in the Austin area.

The Central Texas Mobility Authority's board of directors paused a scheduled 5-cent increase per segment on the MoPac Express toll lanes. (Community Impact staff)
Tolls on Central Texas roads will increase Jan. 1; MoPac base rate will stay the same

The Central Texas Mobility Authority's board of directors paused a scheduled 5-cent increase per segment on the MoPac Express toll lanes.

The Austin School of Fashion Design, or ASFD, relocated from North Austin to Georgetown in October. (Courtesy The Austin School of Fashion Design)
Austin School of Fashion Design moves to Georgetown and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Austin area.

Local violinist Shawn LeSure
HAAM gets funding boost from Central Health to enroll musicians of color in health coverage

Days ahead of open enrollment beginning in the health care marketplace, Travis County’s health care district and the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians struck a deal to secure increased health care coverage for the city’s musicians of color.

Less than a week ahead of the Nov. 3 Election Day, Cihan Varol, an associate professor with Sam Houston State University's Cyber Forensics Intelligence Center, shared insight on foreign election hacking and what it means for voters. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Q&A: Sam Houston State University cyber forensics intelligence expert talks foreign election hacking ahead of Nov. 3

"There is a very slim chance that the hackers can change vote count, but they can definitely influence people to believe that they did manipulate it," Cihan Varol said. "If election fraud is going to happen, it'll be because of disinformation."

Face coverings are not required for those entering polling places in Texas during the general election. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
UPDATED: U.S. appeals court pauses decision voiding face covering exemption at polling places

The court temporarily stayed a district judge's decision to void an exemption to Gov. Greg Abbott's statewide face covering order concerning polling places.

A 76-acre industrial park located at 19200 Marketplace Ave., Kyle, is scheduled to start opening its first phase of development in spring 2021, according to information from its development company, Northpoint Development. (Courtesy Colliers International)
76-acre, 863,000-square-foot industrial park coming to Kyle

A 76-acre industrial park located at 19200 Marketplace Ave., Kyle, is scheduled to start opening its first phase of development in spring 2021, according to information from its development company, Northpoint Development.

The Unknown Concept, a collection of local brands and artists located at 218 Guadalupe St., San Marcos, opened Sept. 6. (Courtesy Ryan Johnson)
Artist and brand collective The Unknown Concept now open in San Marcos

The Unknown Concept, a collection of local brands and artists located at 218 Guadalupe St., San Marcos, opened Sept. 6.

Customers can order Goodstock Angus and Goodstock Black Label beef, including ribeye steaks, strip steaks, filets and ground chuck. (Courtesy Nolan Ryan brands)
Nolan Ryan expands Round Rock-based butcher business and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Austin area.

With five days left in early voting, the 2020 presidential election is already making history. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Hays County voters blow past 2016 turnout

With five days left in early voting, the 2020 presidential election is already making history.

County officials said they were never properly notified of the new deaths, which were found due to new reporting protocols from the Texas Department of State Health Services for hospitals, funeral homes and nursing facilities. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Hays County reports 34.37% increase in COVID-19 deaths

County officials said they were never properly notified of the new deaths, which were found due to new reporting protocols from the Texas Department of State Health Services for hospitals, funeral homes and nursing facilities.