Candidates for Place 1 and 2 on the San Marcos City Council discussed student-resident relations, the new smoking ordinance, the river and other hot-button issues Wednesday evening during the University Star’s City Council Debate.
Lisa Prewitt, candidate for Place 1, answered questions posed by the debate moderators and audience members along with Place 2 candidates Thom Prentice, Mason Murphy and incumbent Jude Prather. Bill Taylor, Prewitt’s opponent for Place 1, was unable to attend the event.
In a written statement from Taylor read by a moderator, he explained his history in the insurance business, his graduation from San Marcos Baptist Academy in 1971 and his six years of service on the Planning and Zoning Commission. Taylor touted his business experience while differentiating his background from Prewitt’s.
The relationship between residents and students was discussed by the candidates. Prather, a graduate of Texas State, said San Marcos struggled with issues between students and residents during the early 2000s.
Prentice, a former mayoral candidate, said he is surprised by the hostility directed toward students from San Marcos residents and believes it should be directed elsewhere.
“It’s not (their) fault,” Prentice said. “It should be expressed against the university administration and, more importantly, toward the University Board of Regents.”
Prewitt said she would like to see more action and movement from Achieving Community Together, a city and university initiative that aims to have the two entities work together on common values and goals. She said one issue needing to be solved by those involved in ACT is instances of students being forced to park on streets because of high parking permit prices.
Candidates also discussed the recently approved smoking ordinance, which bans the use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes in public places.
Prather, a smoker, said he is a believer in freedom, which originally caused him to oppose the ban on smoking inside establishments. However, Prather said he later reconsidered his decision.
“I voted this down (the first time it was proposed) on the freedom doctrine,” Prather said. “But, using the same doctrine, people have the right to breathe clean air.”
On the topic of the city council’s role in protecting the San Marcos River, Prewitt said city officials need to acquire land around the river to prevent developers from causing further damage.
Murphy said his daily work with students as a career counselor at Texas State allows him to learn their concerns about the river. He said whenever he makes decisions involving the river, he considers its importance to the community.
The candidates also discussed the issues of student housing, poverty among San Marcos residents and development over the course of the debate.
The candidates summed up their visions for San Marcos in their closing statements.
Prewitt said city council needs community representatives in office, not just business representatives.
“I’m not the new kid on the block,” Prewitt said.
Prather said he originally wanted San Marcos to “get back to basics” when he was first elected to city council three years ago, and he wants to look back in 2016 and say his goal was accomplished.
Prentice quoted a “commie pinko” only to reveal he was reading a statement from Pope Francis to make his final point about the dangers of unrestrained capitalism. Prentice said he is opposed to out-of-control growth in San Marcos. He said capitalism, Wall Street and big corporations are using their “slimy, sucky tentacles” to cause unchecked growth locally.
Murphy said San Marcos is a community of shared values whether one is a freshman afraid of the future or a senior looking for a job.
“When you’re here and you’re part of this community of shared values, you have the chance to change your corner of the world,” Murphy said.
To listen to the entire uncut podcast of the city council debate, go to UniversityStar.com.