Amira Van Leeuwen | Staff Reporter
The League of Women Voters hosted a virtual forum among San Marcos City Council Candidates on October 14. San Marcos City Council Candidates include Mark Gleason and Zachariah Sambrano who are running for Place 5, and Jude Prather and Mark Rockeymoore who are running for Place 6.
What are your priorities for marketing the city to developers?
Gleason believes that the City Council needs to be clear and concise on the rules they set in place for developers.
“We’re going to see a lot of development on the East Side of town and so I think the biggest thing to do is give them clear rules on what the community wants,” Gleason said.
Sambrano is very passionate about employing city developers in San Marcos.
“A big thing that I see on the planning and zoning commission with the City Council is regulation and restriction,” Sambrano said. “We can’t continue to say that we want to be a city that offers multiple forms of housing that are affordable but yet, when these developers bring projects before the Planning and Zoning Commissioner, before the City Council, they continue to get shut down.”
Prather believes that affordable housing can be accomplished through regulatory pathways and predictability.
Rockeymoore feels that the City Council can pick and choose what fits the city of San Marcos.
“It’s my position that we don’t have to accept every development that wants to be here,” Rockeymoore said.
How would you mitigate the top two challenges the city faces?
Sambrano plans to prioritize housing and protecting neighborhood infrastructure.
Prather thinks that San Marcos’s number one challenge is public safety along with utilities. Prather wants to ensure that the lights stay, the city has proper storm drains and that residents have long-term water availability.
Rockeymoore agrees with his constituents, in that the top challenge San Marcos faces is mitigating problems brought on by climate change.
“The environment here in San Marcos is the top challenge that we have to face and that includes both mitigating river flood issues and also preparing for future environmental extremes,” Rockeymoore said.
Gleason thinks that the top two challenges the city faces are infrastructure and COVID-19 recovery.
“One of the things we need to do, is be mindful of bringing good jobs to replace the jobs that were lost and also keep the small businesses open that we have now,” Gleason said.
How would you promote the top two resources of San Marcos?
Prather plans on promoting Texas State and the San Marcos Municipal Airport.
Rockeymoore would work to promote the San Marcos river and incoming tech companies.
“We are the garden of Eden,” Rockeymoore said. “And we have a city that is medium-sized but we have a small-town feel.”
Gleason would also focus on the river and green spaces to promote San Marcos and bring good-paying innovative jobs utilizing the university system.
Sambrano would focus on promoting the Mermaid Society and protecting the San Marcos River.
What will guide your decision-making in your role as a city council member?
“I am going to listen to everyone who speaks to me and those who don’t speak to me directly,” Rockeymoore said. Rockeymoore also plans on having quarterly town halls.
Gleason stresses the importance of listening to the community as a whole.
Sambrano says that his decision-making will be guided by his heart and what he feels is best for the community.
“There have been so many needs and people have messaged me that this is something I needed to do because they need a voice on council to help amplify their concerns,” Sambrano said.
Prather says that his decision-making will be guided by empathy and compassion.
One of Prather’s goals is to try to bring back civility to City Hall, citing state and local division.
“Unfortunately our nation hasn’t been divided in a very long time and it’s unfortunate because the word ‘United’ is in the name of our county yet we’re so divided. We’re starting to see that in our state and in our city,” Prather said.
What is San Marcos’s most pressing public transportation issue, how will you keep it front and center?
Gleason thinks the bus service is San Marcos’s most pressing public transportation issue and plans to work on the interlocal agreement with Texas State University and the City and make the bus routes more efficient and frequent.
Sambrano believes accessibility is a problem as well, citing the need to expand transportation services, including bike lanes. He thinks that San Marcos needs to have multiple means for transportation.
“We need more transportation to go to more of our neighborhoods and more parts of town,” Sambrano said.
Prather agrees with Sambrano.
“The City of San Marcos can’t really help with the inflation of your groceries at HEB but we can help with other things, like the inflation of gas prices if we’re utilizing a more efficient, expanded bus service,” Prather said.
Rockeymoore believes that walking, bike lanes and multi-motor transportation are important.
Share your position on the current cite-and-release ordinance.
Sambrano believes that San Marcos can continue to expand on its criminal justice reform and doesn’t think individuals in jail for low-level offenses should stay in jail.
Prather also supports criminal justice reform efforts.
Rockeymoore thinks the cite-and-release ordinance is a powerful piece of law and is proud that they’ve passed it in San Marcos.
Gleason fully supports the concepts of cite-and-release but would have preferred to implement a memorandum on request.
The population of San Marcos grew by 50% in the last decade and is projected to continue on a similar trajectory. Are single-family subdivisions in undeveloped areas the primary solution? Please explain your answer.
Prather thinks that San Marcos is missing the middle component made up of townhomes and accessory dwelling units that create affordability to live and work in the areas that are in demand.
Rockeymoore says that it depends on the location of those single-family housing units.
“We need to be very diligent in where we choose to build no matter what type of housing it is,” Rockeymoore said.
Gleason notes that San Marcos no longer has single-family zoning in its land development code.
“I think the preservation of the existing neighborhoods is very important but a lot of the growth we’re having is going to have those options there,” Gleason said.
Sambrano strongly disagrees with Gleason but agrees with Rockeymoore that the city needs to be smart about its growth.
“We need more dense options because eventually, we’ll run out of land,” Sambrano said.
This past year the body created by the city council to address police misconduct, the Criminal Justice Reform Committee, has been changed to exclude the public and media from attending. Please defend or refute this position.
Rockeymoore, Sambrano and Prather think that transparency is important.
However, Gleason thinks that it should be left up to the individual committees themselves on how they handle their meetings.
Early voting for the Nov. 2 election is currently taking place. More information on voting in Hays County can be found here.