Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Council candidate pushes veterans benefits

Council candidate pushes veterans benefits
Posted on March 24, 2009 at 6:12 pm • Print • Share

San Marcos presently has its veterans commission situated under the parks department. City Council candidate Lisa Marie Coppoletta said the commission should be overseen by the human services advisory board. Photo by Andy Sevilla.

Associate Editor
San Marcos City Council candidate Lisa Marie Coppoletta, still without a specific opponent for the Place 5 seat in her sights, announced positions last week to address benefits for veterans, the handicapped and the elderly.

Coppoletta said she would try to establish a forgivable $5,000 loan for down payment assistance to returning war veterans, provided they purchase homes in the city. Coppoletta said her proposal is modeled on a similar program in which the city provides the same assistance for Texas State faculty.

Coppoletta also said she would move to increase the city property tax exemption for the disabled and citizens 65 years of age and older. Under Coppoletta’s plan, each group would double its property tax exemption to $50,000 of the home’s value from the present exemption of $25,000.

Coppoletta said city government should benefit veterans with programs aiding in job skills and academic endeavors, adding that San Marcos ought to “provide our veterans with good paying jobs.” She said “green collar jobs” would be chief in her vision of living-wage employment. By attracting environmentally oriented professions, Coppoletta said city residents would benefit from higher earnings while leaving behind a less invasive “carbon footprint.”

The candidate’s push on veterans’ issues comes two weeks after Jude Prather, a failed 2007 city council candidate and Iraq war veteran, announced his candidacy for an unspecified seat in the 2009 city council race.

Coppoletta said her proposals and Prather’s candidacy are unrelated, though, she said, “I hope not to run against each other because we share so much in regards to our nation’s veterans.”
Place 5 incumbent Councilmember Pam Couch has stated she will remain quiet on her intentions of seeking re-election until August. Prather did not specify which seat he would seek.
Place 6 Councilmember John Thomaides, whose term expires in November, has not announced if he will seek re-election.

Coppoletta said the city has misplaced its veterans commission, which it implemented after Prather’s advocacy. The candidate said the veterans commission should work under the umbrella of the city’s human services advisory board, rather than under the Parks and Recreation Department. Coppoletta said the advisory board is “better qualified” to address the concerns and needs of returning veterans.

Said Daniel Scales, Coppoletta’s husband and campaign manager, “(Coppoletta) is resolved that the same courtesy be extended to our retuning men and women who have served bravely and unconditionally for our country.”

The human services advisory board’s purpose is “to develop and enhance human services in San Marcos, [and] make recommendations to city council for funding to human services agencies,” according to the city’s website.