San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

March 26th, 2008
Buda’s crowded election

By BILL PETERSON
Editor at Large

BUDA – If somebody simply mentioned that four seats on a city council were up for election and eight candidates were in the running, you might suspect that incumbents were under attack.

In the case of this year’s city elections in Buda, that would be wrong. Of all the candidates up for election, not a single one is an incumbent for the seat he or she is seeking.

It’s not so much that the process in Buda has revealed unrest with the incumbency. More to the point, there is no incumbency to speak of in Buda, where a whole different order of city government stands to be seated within the next three or four months.

When all of this smoke clears, however the May 10 vote turns out, the Buda City Council will include three new councilmembers, three holdover councilmembers, and a present councilmember who will be the new mayor. The new council will be immediately tested for its powers of cohesion and its ability to agree on a vision for the city, because its first big order of business is a lot for even an experienced council.

Some time in July or August, the new city council will have to decide on a new city manager.

Given all that’s at stake, one might expect a loud city council campaign. In Buda, that hasn’t happened since the 2002 election that the seated Councilmember Hutch White, elected John Trube as mayor and re-elected Bobby Lane to the council.

Buda doesn’t have a mayor at the moment. It does have a mayor pro tem in Lane, and he is running for mayor. Running against Lane is Councilmember White. Lane has been on the city council for eight years and White has been on it for six. After the May 10 election, neither will be a councilmember, strictly speaking. One will become mayor and the other will be off the council completely.

Running for mayor, Lane vacates his seat, now known as Place 1 under the city’s new charter. Former Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Chairman Ron Fletcher is running for that position. Opposing Fletcher is present-day P&Z Commissioner Gerry O’Brien.

The luckiest candidate, by far, is Jardine’s Foods Chief Financial Officer Kelly Allen, who is running for White’s seat, known as Place 2. Allen, who is supported by the Buda Area Chamber of Commerce (BACC), drew no opponent. So Allen, for certain, will join the city council after May 10.

Place 6 is an added, new council seat per the charter. Former Mayor Billy Gray, whose term ended in 2002, has filed for the seat. Also filing are two relative newcomers to Buda. Todd Ruge has lived in Buda for two years, while Scott Dodd has lived in Buda for 14 months.

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