The League of Women Voters of Hays County hosted a City Council debate Oct. 9 at the San Marcos Activity Center. Place 3 and Place 4 candidates for the City Council Election were featured in a public debate sponsored by the league and took questions from audience members.
Place 3 candidates, Ed Mihalkanin and Amy Stanfield, took the stage to discuss topics including city development, flood control and job growth. Mihalkanin has over a decade of combined experience in the San Marcos City Council. Stanfield has experience serving on the San Marcos Planning and Zoning Commission among other committees.
Stanfield said environmental and citizen safety should be taken into consideration when considering new city development.
“I think with development coming in, we need to be careful about how and where we build to make sure that we’re not creating more flood zones and hurting our neighborhoods in that way,” Stanfield said. “On safety issues with flooding, I also support our police and fire department in making sure they have adequate resources to staff them and be there for us in times of need.”
On the topic of stormwater management, Mihalkanin said the council plans to implement some measures by the end of this year that would protect citizens in the event of future flooding.
“We’re enlarging drainage pipes in Blanco Gardens and in other neighborhoods,” Mihalkanin said. “No matter how much the City of San Marcos does to mitigate future flooding, some flooding of these larger 100-year flood events simply cannot be handled by our own budget, and so we really need to work with our federal representatives in the House and Senate for a new set of dams.”
Stanfield also touched on the topic of creating new job opportunities for graduating students by encouraging mentorships with local businesses.
Mihalkanin said he would also like to see more job opportunities for Texas State graduates. However, he’d like to extend that to the local population in addition to affordable childcare and GED programs for those without a high school diploma.
Place 4 candidates, Jane Hughson and Joshua Simpson, tackled issues regarding economic development and affordable housing for citizens and students. Simpson is a free-market entrepreneur; Hughson is a Place 4 incumbent.
Simpson said he would like to see more manufacturing jobs in San Marcos to compete with the recent property tax hike.
“The property tax rate in Austin is 45 cents per every 100 dollar evaluation, and per capita income in that city has been growing,” Simpson said. “Here in San Marcos, it is 61 cents per every 100 dollar evaluation on your home properties, and as far as I know, the median income in this city has not grown to that exponential rate, and that concerns me for the long term. We need to bring hard manufacturing jobs into this community and allow people to raise their families generations at a time—and that sustains growth.”
Hughson said diversification of the San Marcos tax base, a $15 minimum wage and health insurance for companies seeking tax break incentives is essential for her community goals.
“We must continue to use our economic toolbox to attract companies that pay good salaries with benefits,” Hughson said. “It may mean less tax income for a while, but the return on investments and jobs now, plus later tax income make it worthwhile… Our tax rate was increased this year for the first time in over 10 years because over 75 percent of the voters said ‘yes, we’re willing to pay more taxes’ to double our library, to improve and add a fire station and to improve our police department.”
Early voting starts Oct. 23 and will last through Nov. 3. Election day is Nov. 7. For non-partisan voting information, see the League of Women Voters guideonline or at the local library.