Newly elected Place 5 and 6 city council members Scott Gregson and Melissa Derrick shared their victory with a cheering crowd of student supporters, longtime friends and a number of city officials on Tuesday evening.
By the time Derrick and Gregson kicked off their watch party at Railyard Bar & Grill, early poll data showed that the two candidates were off to a strong start.
Once the final votes rolled in and Derrick and Gregson’s victory was confirmed, the pair said they would use their new positions to protect the San Marcos River and adhere to the comprehensive master plan.
“I’ve seen enthusiasm in (citizens’) faces and I’ve seen anguish over past decisions,” Gregson said. “We have a vision for this town, it is the master plan. We are going to stick to it.”
Supporters watched the votes trickle in and cheered as Derrick and Gregson maintained their lead the entire night.
“The idea and ideals that resonated throughout my campaign are what citizens are concerned about,” Gregson said.
He said the result of the election is evidence citizens are ready for a change in local government.
Derrick said the main difference between her platform and that of Shane Scott, the Place 6 city council incumbent, concerned student housing. She felt Scott garnered some of the student vote because of his desire to implement more student housing.
Although Derrick said she recognizes the need for student housing, the city should be more careful about placing the developments too close to residential neighborhoods. She said this type of arrangement is not beneficial for either party.
“I understand, I’m a Bobcat,” Derrick said. “I wouldn’t want to live next to 20-year-old me.”
Scott agreed the greatest area of disagreement between him and his opponent had to do with the placement of student housing. He said citizens voted for Derrick because they are uncomfortable with the rate at which apartment complexes have been built in the city.
Ted Breihan, San Marcos resident and former city council member, and his wife Francis Breihan came to the watch party to show support for Gregson and Derrick.
“Ted served (on city council) with (Frank Arredondo, Place 5 city council candidate) in the ‘70’s,” Francis Breihan said. “I won’t say anything more, but we knew we didn’t want to vote for him.”
The couple said they felt Derrick’s concern for the environment would work hand-in-hand with Gregson’s business experience.
“We wanted a candidate that would look at all the issues…traffic, environment and business,” Francis Breihan said. “We figure we have two good people and they will come through.”
“I am us,” Derrick said. “I love you all. This is us and I’m going to get up there and vote for us.”
Current Place 1, 3 and 4 councilmembers Lisa Prewitt, John Thomaides and Jane Hughson attended the event. The three said they support Gregson and Derrick and are glad they won.
“Now the city is unified—the university and the business side,” Ted Breihan said. “Now we can get things done.”
Derrick won the election with 2,023 votes while only 987 supporters of Scott made their voices heard at the polls. Scott, who did not host a watch party, said as of now, he does not plan to run for city council in future elections. He plans to spend time with his family and grieve the recent death of his mother.
“I’m fine,” Scott said. “The people have spoken and this is what they want…I wish Melissa Derrick the best. I hope she is successful.”
Arredondo lost the election to Gregson by a margin of 838 votes. Gregson rallied 1,889 votes while only 1,051 people showed up to the ballot in support of Arredondo.
Members of the community came to Rogelio’s Restaurant to congratulate Arredondo on his campaign on and to support him through his loss.
“I may have lost, but I have gained so much in friendship and support,” Arredondo said.
Supporters said they hoped Arredondo would win because of his desire to expand the job market in the city.
David Ybarra, an Arredondo supporter who attended the watch party, admired the candidate’s efforts to encourage companies to locate in San Marcos.
Ybarra said his daughter is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio and is looking to find a job in San Marcos. However, she has been unable to find one and Ybarra believed Arredondo could change that.
Samuel Garcia, social work administration leadership graduate student, said he gave his vote to Arredondo because of the candidate’s ability to give a voice to minorities in the city.
“This city has struggled to find equity among voices and populations,” Garcia said. “Frank is conscious of this.”
As an alumnus of Southwest Texas University, Arredondo made Mariana Zamora, social work junior, his campaign treasurer.
“The thing that hit home for me was him wanting to involve youth in politics,” Zamora said.
John Eakin, Arredondo’s general consultant, said that Arredondo should take pride in the fact that he was able to gain so much support just a month and a half before the election. Eakin credited the candidate with playing a crucial role in increasing voter turnout.
“Frank Arredondo will continue to be a voice for the voiceless, but will be better utilized as a private citizen because the balance of power isn’t where it needs to be right now,” Eakin said.