San Marcos citizens gathered to question candidates about neighborhood development, environmental issues, green space conservation and the future of the city. Mayoral incumbent Daniel Guerrero debated with challenger Thom Prentice. Councilmember Shane Scott, Place 6, and challenger Greg Frank debated with Place 5 write-in candidate Melissa Derrick because Place 5 incumbent Ryan Thomason was absent from the event.
During the mayoral debate, Guerrero opened by proclaiming his responsibility to San Marcos is to be a moderator and listener for his constituents. Prentice began by passing around pictures of Earth’s atmosphere to the audience, outlining his stance on the “human condition” in San Marcos.
Prentice warned the audience of the potential dangers of climate change and called for “real people” to represent the community. He gave an example of the city using foreign, “water-hungry” grass in its developments instead of native, “frugal” species.
Guerrero said his biggest accomplishment was being involved with the San Marcos City Council and its efforts to prioritize early education. Prentice said he was proud of preservation efforts in his home state of Ohio.
Prentice brought up the city’s zoning committee and its “anti-democratic” membership requirements, in which state members must be property owners in San Marcos for at least three years.
Both mayoral candidates supported green technology and smart development. Guerrero supported rainwater utilization and building smarter with renewable resources.
A major point of contention during the debate was the approval and construction of The Retreat, a student apartment complex off Ranch Road 12 that opened earlier this year. Citizens expressed their opinions about the complex, citing the effects of students on single-family housing neighborhoods.
Scott said the construction of The Retreat was the “right decision at the time,” and described the apartment complex as “managed chaos.” However, Frank said it was “obvious” The Retreat is detrimental to the surrounding community and that he is against “negative impact development.”
Derrick said she opposed the construction of The Retreat, and disagrees with the current city system and how it deals with prospective developers.
Other issues discussed included traffic, road construction from the city’s Master Plan and water conservation.
Scott said he stands for changing the existing bus stops to decongest traffic on Sessom Drive, as well as lower residential tax rates and responsible growth and development.
Frank said he supports transportation solutions and “intelligent growth for the community.”
Derrick said she is an advocate for green space and heritage conservation, as well as transparent, responsible city planning.
All of the candidates were in support of prioritizing the local educational system and developing relationships between the university, non-profits and students in kindergarten through the twelfth grade.
James Garber, professor of anthropology at Texas State, was in the audience at the debate.
“The city just can’t build anywhere they want. They need to listen to the community,” Garber said. “The town isn’t anti-student. We love the university. But when it comes to city planning, city government needs to be more transparent and more involved with San Marcos residents.”