On Dec. 21, 2016, former City Councilman John Thomaides was sworn into office as Mayor of San Marcos.
Although municipal voting took place in early November in accordance with the nation’s general election, Thomaides secured the position as mayor after the run-off elections against opposing candidate Ruben Becerra.
Thomaides said that his first priority as mayor, from an economic standpoint, is to secure long-term higher wage employment opportunities in town.
“Obviously, jobs at all employment levels are important to the local economy, but from my standpoint one of our top goals (and a true judge of how our economy is doing) are career-level jobs where someone can stay in San Marcos and build their lives around it,” Thomaides said.
Despite his disapproval of last year’s Woods of San Marcos apartment complex, Thomaides recently approved the development of a new H-E-B.
“All developments have a certain level of difficulty to them in terms of location or potential impact, whether that may be traffic or flooding,” Thomaides said. “I believe they have to pass a simple test: does the proposed development improve the lives of our citizens, does it have an impact across the community and (help) people?”
Thomaides said that other equally-important factors under consideration include whether a development will be safe for the town’s historic neighborhoods, and whether it will have a negative impact on the river.
The mayor said he and members of city council have begun taking steps to make their dream of encouraging economic growth a reality in San Marcos.
“We’re communicating with our economic development team, and we will be continuing that process over the next few weeks.” Thomaides said. “Right now we’re laying out the vision that I have and the vision that our council has, and we continue to adjust our strategy.”
Prior economic successes have included the establishment of biotech company Grifols and welding & manufacturing company EPIC Piping, but Thomaides believes San Marcos still has a long way to go.
“We’ve gone a long way with this team to define and identify which sectors of industry are likely to bring us the type of job growth we’re looking for,” Thomaides said. “Then it’s up to the team to do our best to recruit, retain and help expand this type of employment opportunity in the city.”
Thomaides said that many private sector companies meet the criteria that the council and the Greater San Marcos Partnership are looking for, and that they will likely pursue this avenue to attract jobs paying between $75 thousand and $100 thousand a year.
“In my opinion, all entities should look at this from a private sector standpoint,” said Kevin Carswell, owner and operator of local coffee shop Mochas and Javas, “Who pays the salaries of everyone on city council? The taxpayer. So for us to be successful, it’s important that the city look at business seriously. I want to know what is being done to impact my financial future.”
Carswell said he appreciates the familiarity of municipal politics, and the scope of action and involvement it enables.
“Unlike federal politics, I can call John Thomaides directly, or we can talk face-to-face,” Carswell said. “I like that personalization. The city staff and the council, the Planning & Zoning Commission, are always understanding and available. They have made themselves accessible to the public.”
Marielena Herrera, history senior, was less optimistic about her future in San Marcos after the recent mayoral election.
“My biggest issue with Mr. Thomaides is that during his campaign he said he didn’t think there’s a race issue in town; but I feel that in America’s current political climate, there’s a race issue everywhere,” Herrera said. “It’s something that needs to be addressed, especially since we have such a high Hispanic population. It’s not just up to the school to address it; it’s also up to (the) city to reassure us that we’re being advocated for.”
Otherwise, Herrera said that she maintains a positive outlook for Thomaides’ upcoming mayorship.
“Back when he was campaigning, I’d sometimes see him handing out political literature on campus, which was amazing,” Herrera said. “It’s great to see local politicians take it a step further and let students know they’re listening to us.”
Herrera says she believes that currently, the town’s economy is conducive to students staying in town after they graduate, but that things could be better.
“I’m going to be a teacher after I graduate, so specifically for me, I feel that I will be able to get a job in San Marcos, but I can’t speak for other professions,” Herrera said.
Herrera said she believes all of the mayoral and city council candidates clearly had the best interests of the city in mind, and that even if the city’s economy isn’t at its peak now, it certainly could be in the future.