San Marcos candidates talk growth, business at debate
One San Marcos Council seat is up for grabs, and three people are running for mayor in November's election.
By Andrea Lorenz firstname.lastname@example.org; 512-392-8750
Friday, September 12, 2008
SAN MARCOS — Five candidates are running for two seats on the San Marcos City Council, and at a debate held Thursday, candidates stressed that the future of the city rested in development, jobs and relieving taxpayers of more costs.
Current council members plan to vote on a new downtown master plan in the weeks before the Nov. 4 election. But Mayor Susan Narvaiz and the two challengers she faces in her bid for a third term debated what the city of about 50,000 can do to bring more people and businesses to the downtown square.
Narvaiz said it's necessary for the private and public sectors to work together and acknowledged that existing city codes have impeded development downtown. She said the new plan addresses some of those issues, including making the downtown more friendly to pedestrians and increasing the housing options.
Narvaiz, 50, said 6,900 new jobs have been created in San Marcos since she became mayor in 2004.
Challenger Dave Newman, a retired pilot, said building parking garages downtown should be a priority. The lack of adequate parking, he said, "has been the holdup of the development and revitalization of downtown."
Newman also said he wants to work to bring more professional jobs to the area to end the "brain drain" that currently occurs when Texas State University graduates leave the city to find jobs. Newman also said he would like to cut each city department's budget by 10 percent across the board.
Mayoral candidate Daniel McCarthy, a Texas State student, did not attend the debate. McCarthy said he was attending a Sept. 11 event for the Project for the New American Citizen, of which he is the president.
Reached by phone Thursday, McCarthy said downtown streets need bike lanes. He'd also like the university and city to come up with a plan to keep Texas State graduates in San Marcos, he said.
"You definitely have to go to Austin if you have to have any kind of interning while you're in college," McCarthy said.
Place 4 Council Member Chris Jones, a career adviser at Texas State, faces Lisa Marie Coppoletta, a professor at Texas State who also teaches at Austin Community College.
Jones, who was elected while still a Texas State student, said the city should focus on improving transportation by creating a balance between roads and effective mass transportation.
He said growth should be centered around a proposed light rail system and getting people around the city after they arrive by train.
On the economic development end, Jones said he'd like to help attract nanotechnology or pharmaceutical companies to the city to increase tax revenue and jobs. Jones said he had no specific companies in mind. He said that would help raise the standard of living so San Marcos residents could afford to buy homes, a point that Jones said hit home when he tried to buy an $80,000 house after college and "I wasn't anywhere close" to the city's home prices.
Coppoletta's platform centers around attracting a vibrant film community to San Marcos, so the city will benefit from the free advertising that comes with appearing on camera. Film companies also often make improvements to properties in communities, she said.
She would also like to bring cultural and music festivals to the area, making San Marcos a destination for animation studios and other artistic companies.
Real estate agent Fred A. Terry is running unopposed for the Place 3 seat. Daniel Guerrero, who holds that spot, said he is seeking career opportunities that might require a move outside city limits.
Susan Clifford Narvaiz (i)
Occupation:Owner of a human resources consulting company
Education:Graduate of South San Antonio High School; adult education courses in business management, employment law and conflict resolution
Experience: San Marcos mayor from 2004 to present; council member from 2002 to 2004; chair of the Capital Area Council of Government Executive Committee and the Hays Caldwell Public Utility Agency; former chair of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; former member of the board of directors of the San Marcos Economic Development Council, Convention and Visitors Bureau, Hays Caldwell Women's Center and several other area groups
Worth Noting: In 1998, founded A Blessing in San Marcos, a thanksgiving dinner for people in need, prompted by a flood that happened a month before Thanksgiving.
Occupation:Retired jet airline pilot for a Saudi Arabian oil minister; owns a multimedia production company
Education:Bachelor's of science in physics from the University of Houston, postgraduate work in computer science at Southwest Texas State University, now Texas State University
Experience:Been involved with grass-roots efforts in San Marcos
Worth Noting: Was arrested after saving a man's life in the San Marcos River in 2005 for not leaving the water when Texas State University police asked him to. The charges were later dropped after the incident made international news.
Occupation:Texas State University student
Education:Graduate of Dripping Springs High School; working toward a bachelor's in public administration
Experience:President of Project for the New American Citizen, a political organization; former volunteer for the Ron Paul campaign for president; member of the Hays County Campaign for Liberty
Worth Noting:Spent a semester after high school traveling across Europe
Council Member Place 3
Fred A. Terry
Occupation:Real estate agent, mostly residential, but has experience with farms and ranches and commercial properties
Education:Bachelor's degree of science in business in purchasing and material management from the University of Houston
Experience:San Marcos planning and zoning commission from 2003 to 2008; Hays County Transportation Advisory Board; past board member of the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce; member of four chamber committees
Worth Noting:Member of Ducks Unlimited, an organization of conservation-minded duck hunters, and enjoys outdoor sports such as hiking, camping and fishing.
Web site: iamsanmarcos.com
Council Member Place 4
Christopher Jones (i)
Occupation:Career adviser at Texas State University
Education:Bachelor's in public administration from Texas State University; working on a master's degree in public administration at Texas State, expected graduation in 2011
Experience:San Marcos City Council member for three years; Texas State University student body president for one year; member of the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Steering Committee for the National League of Cities; and a member of the Downtown Association, Young Elected Officials and the Texas Association of Black City Council Members
Worth Noting:First Texas State student to be elected to the City Council in three decades and the youngest council member ever elected.
Lisa Marie Coppoletta
Occupation:Adjunct professor of speech communication at Austin Community College; university seminar instructor at Texas State
Education:Bachelor's and master's degrees in speech communication from Southwest Texas State University, now Texas State
Experience:Involved in the community, voter drives and recycling efforts; ran for mayor and City Council in the 1990s when she was an undergraduate and graduate student.
Worth Noting:Filming a documentary about running for local office during this election
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