Hays County Candidates Open Four Rivers Association Of Realtors Annual San Marcos City Council Debate

The Four Rivers Association of REALTORS® is a 501(c)6 non-profit membership organization established in 1960.  Its current configuration includes a merger that represents members from…

By, Terra Rivers, Managing Editor

On Tuesday, September 25, the Four Rivers Association of Realtors partnered with the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce to host the first debate for candidates for San Marcos City Council at the activity center in San Marcos.

Hays County Candidates were in attendance to give opening remarks before the debate began. However, two candidates were unable to attend.

Omar Baca, candidate for County Commissioner Precinct Four, did not attend; no reason was given for his absence. County Commissioner Precinct Three, Mark Jones, was unable to attend due to a prior commitment.

Candidates did not answer any questions due to time constraints. Ten individuals have filed to run for city council in the November election. During the debate, each candidate was asked three questions.

The Four Rivers Association of REALTORS® is a 501(c)6 non-profit membership organization established in 1960.  Its current configuration includes a merger that represents members from the former New Braunfels/Canyon Lake Association of REALTORS®, Seguin Board of REALTORS®, and San Marcos Area Board of REALTORS®.

The event was held from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. The annual event allows members to meet the candidates for the upcoming November election.

Below are the full opening remarks given by each candidate. San Marcos City Council candidates responses and questions can be read at the following links.


Ruben Becerra, Candidate for Hays County Judge

Well, it feels nice to stand here and know someone at every table. That’s a really cool, cool vibe. Good job for everyone participating in the democratic process. I believe, in 2016, that someone shouldn’t just walk on. I was just reminded of that in another city nearby. Council members keep getting elected, keep getting elected and no one challenges them. I believe in the most patriotic thing we can do; we just did the Pledge of Allegiance. I believe people shouldn’t just walk on.

And so for my part, for my contribution, I think a lot of you out here, because I know a lot of you are my supporters … Even if you’re not, when this is all over, if it goes favorably for me, then I will represent you no matter what. The best thing I can say is, we’re all a happy community and we are all interested in a greater good for all of us. We all need one another. It takes all of us to do our part, and so I’m the candidate that doesn’t want these crazy, crazy high taxes that we’re paying. I’m the candidate that wants us to bring in multimodal communication.

I’m the candidate that wants multimodal. I want to bring back the conversation for Camino Real, for example, because those people that have the higher paying jobs that side of our county can come in and buy the houses you’re selling.

I’m the guy that wants to be responsible with development. I just don’t want to have corporate welfare or willy-nilly developments that don’t necessarily come out right. What I want to do is what’s useful for the community as a whole, and I want the resources to be considered in part of what we do, not just develop anywhere. And thank you guys for your time and thank you for doing this. You guys are awesome.

Will Conley, Candidate Hays County Judge

Well, good evening. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak here today. You know, I’ve been blessed in so many ways to be part of this community from 1996 when I moved here to go to school at Southwest Texas State University and got a degree in political science. I was supported by this community. A young, ambitious kid opened up a very large investment just a block away from here that, after 15 years, sold that for a profit after serving this community for a very long time, and everybody was so supportive of me.

Then, for the past 14 years, I’ve had the blessing of being part of Hays County government. There was chance that was taken on me at that point in time.

Through a lot of hard work and growth and imperfection, I have become a leader in our community for our county and for our region. What I want to do is apply all that knowledge and experience that I have, that you gave me an opportunity to accumulate, and I want to lead the fastest growing county and the fastest growing region in America.

I think we’re going to have a tremendous amount of opportunities coming in the next 10 years, but there’s going to be a lot of challenges that come with that as well. I have a proven record of delivering and doing the job of the county and leading in this county. We have had a great partnership between the chamber and the real estate community, and I look forward to continuing that as we move forward into the future. Thank you very much.

Richard Cronshey, Candidate for County Commissioner Precinct Two

I’m a teacher so, it might not go well here. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for having me here.

My name is Richard Cronshey and I’m running for county commissioner in precinct two, which is the Buda-Kyle area. Now, that is northeast Hays County. My education background is I have a degree in chemistry from the University of Texas. I was a professional educator for 38 years. I’m finally retired, again, from the classroom, and I did my graduate work in education from San Marcos.

There are many hurdles facing Hays County. That’s why I put my head in the ring. Now, they say the job of county commissioner is, “You can’t do anything unless the state gives you permission.” The opposite, or flip side, of that is the city government, which is, “You can do whatever you want to, unless the state says you can’t.” So, I want to ensure everybody that I will be working actively with groups like this.

I believe very strongly in a public-private partnership. That’s where you get most things done. I want to be an active commissioner on the court. I can say there’s a lot of hurdles facing this county, but it takes leadership and it takes commitment, and those are two things that I have.

I do think that we need to … We’re at, really, an exciting time here in Hays County with all this growth. I know this is a realtor group and then you’re excited about all the growth that’s coming into here, too. We can make this a win-win-win scenario for everyone here. Thank you very much here, chamber, and thank you very much for Realtors Association for giving me this short opportunity to [inaudible 00:09:05] myself. Thank you very much.

County Commissioner Precinct Three, Mark Jones was unable to attend due to a prior commitment

Jimmy Allen Hall, Candidate for County Commissioner Precinct Two

Thank you, Keely, and thank everyone who’s come out tonight to participate in the democratic process to hear what your candidates have to say, to see who we are, what character we have, what our hearts have, so that you can make a decision when you go in the polling booth who you want to lead you.

I’m from west Texas; mesquite trees, flat land. My parents brought me to Wimberley to vacation, as well as Aquarena Springs back in the ’60s, and I fell in love with the place. And so, I had an opportunity to live where I wanted to. I chose Wimberley because it was our base of operations. I went to the University of Texas, architecture as well as law school as well as the LBJ School of Public Affairs with the designed purpose to be an advocate for the environment, especially this environment here in central Texas.

I’ve been … helped create the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District and been an attorney for them. They entrusted me with their financial livelihood in the case. I’ve been special counsel to the Edwards Aquifer Authority and they entrusted me to follow the law there and to protect water rights.

I’ve also been involved in real estate throughout my career. I’m a former escrow attorney, if y’all know what that means, and I have numerous clients who are mortgage brokers, realtors, etc., so I know what goes on and what y’all’s daily lives are like. I appreciate that and I’ll do whatever I can as county commissioner to make sure you have as little stress in your life from the county’s perspective as possible.

One of my main goals is to reduce stress in people’s lives, whether it be at the courthouse, with respect to criminal and civil justice. I’ve done litigation; we need to make that system much more efficient and less stressful for people. The health department, we need to make sure we have programs in place that we get flu shots out, etc. so that people are healthy, because our workforce needs to be healthy and happy. And with respect to roads and environment development, we need to do it in a coordinated fashion that makes sure that everybody involved in the process is happy in the sense they’re making a good living, that our environment is protected, and the gem that we have here in central Texas stays what it is and is what we want it to be, that we protect the quality of life of the people here now, as well as in the future.


County Commissioner Precinct Three Candidate, Lon Shell

Thank you, Keely, and thanks for having me. I really appreciate this opportunity. I’m sure a lot of you out there know who I am. Those who don’t, my name is Lon Shell. I’m your current precinct three commissioner for Hays County. I’ve had the honor to serve you for the last year, and before that about seven years as the chief of staff for Hays County.

I grew up here in San Marcos, K through 12. Went to Texas A&M. Glad my opponent went to UT; that’s going to make it real easy on me, so thanks for that, Jimmy. Got a degree in mechanical engineering. Never would have dreamed I would have come back here, probably to 25 years ago or so, but had the opportunity about 15 years ago to raise my family here. My parents are still here and it’s really an awesome place, the reason I came back here. I think about that in my job almost every day, that I want this to be the type of place that it was when I was a kid, and I want it to be the type of place I want my daughter to want to return to someday. She’s 10 years old right now, so we’ve still got a little bit of time.

But I’m very proud of everything this community’s done. I’m proud of the growth that we have had. I believe it’s been responsible. It’s because of me and you in this room right now. A lot of you public servants have been here. I’m looking at some of you who’ve represented this city and this county for a long time, and all of you in the real estate industry as well. Thank you for everything you do for this town. It’s a special place. We all want to work hard for you, regardless of who you vote for. I know that we all have that common goal, so thank you very much.

Omar Baca , Candidate for County Commissioner Precinct Four did not attend – no reason given

Walt Smith, Candidate for County Commissioner Precinct Four

Good evening. I’m Walt Smith. I’m a proud member of the chamber at Dripping Springs and part of the real estate synergy group over there for the last three years. I can’t say thank you enough for what you do for our community. It’s amazing to see the dedication, and we’re going to talk issues for the next three months.

But more so than anything, we need to talk about the contribution that y’all make to our community on a daily basis. Y’all are the first impression anybody who comes into our community has. Y’all make that impression on a daily basis, and without y’all we don’t have the new residents, we don’t have people telling others what a great place this is, what a great community this is, what a great county this is to live in. So, thank you for that.

I will say one thing: I’ve got a long history working with the realtors. Specifically, many of you probably know I worked in Washington, D.C. for a number of years. Please don’t hold it against me. I grew up here in Texas, went to Texas A&M, and ended up coming back to raise my family here. I’ve got three small daughters and I wanted them raised in a place like where I grew up.

Within that time, I worked with Jamie Gregory and the National Association of Realtors on a number of issues, more specifically, the extension of tax deductions, mortgage income tax deductions for real estate and those kind of things. Thank you again. I’ll be around, and I know that I’m out of time. I’ll be respectful of that. If you have any questions, I’m going to stick around for the rest of the program, so I’d love to hear from you. Thank you.


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