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October 3rd, 2008
Mayoral Candidates debate issues

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The San Marcos Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA) hosted a debate which provided an outlet for citizens to directly address the candidates. Issues ranging from the job market, extension of bar hours, transportation, and favorite place to locally spend their money, were brought up and contested. CONA concentrated their questions for the candidates on three key issues: the downtown master plan, single family housing, and small businesses.According to CONA the downtown master plan will soon be adopted by the city.

“I would vote for code changes that embrace Mixed Use/Compactness, Form Based Codes and support policy to create a parking management system to include purchase of property near the proposed rail station for a parking garage,” said incumbent Mayor Susan Narvaiz. She said she would create the downtown master plan infrastructure line item in the budget, where increased sales tax revenue would be directed from revenue generated by new businesses that fall within the plan recommendations. “I will continue to work with Hays County to secure key building as part of a public/private partnership strategy to help realize the overall plan.” She said she is also committed to a utility upgrade plan.

Challenger David Newman took a similar stance on the parking issue, but added another element to his vision. He said the city should “construct two parking garages on opposite ends of downtown; the locations should be chosen based on the recommendations of the Main Street Board and the Downtown Association.” He said the construction of both the Concho Commons and the Texas State performing arts complex will kick start the downtown renovation. “From there, with the Downtown Master Plan approved, we can then determine the subsequent stepping stones toward the completion of the plan.” He said the implementation of the plan can not be easily pinpointed, “but the commencement of this project is essential.”

Challenger Daniel McCarthy said the biggest issue with the Downtown Master Plan is parking, and he feels there is no concrete solution to the problem. “What I would do, the Master Plan says we need some studies, I think we need some parking garages.” He said he would implement the Master Plan immediately if he agreed with the intent of its crafters.

The SF-6 limitation on the number of unrelated people living in a house in a single family neighborhood was a concern CONA addressed.

“Elected officials take a solemn oath to uphold the laws and ordinances of this city and this state,” said Narvaiz. She said she supports the limitation and has “worked with the city council to address the changes we have seen in our traditional single-family neighborhoods.” She said an increase in the SF-6 zoning can be traced back to the investment in these properties as rentals. “I have also supported a full focus on changing our ordinances to give them more substance to successfully enforce our SF-6 zoning by withstanding the legal process.”

Newman was also in support of the SF-6 zoning limitation. He said the ordinance “has not been fully enforced for years,” thus it will be difficult to contain. “A solution might be to move toward that objective as a function of time, as well as, zone portions of the city with new cluster zoning classifications to accommodate those who wish affordable housing.” He predicts this process will take between five and 10 years and he said citizen input will be highly solicited to research and explore all options.

On the other hand, McCarthy is not in favor of the SF-6 limitation. “It’s not the place of the city to come in and tell the homeowner who can and can not live under there roof.” He said if property value is the concern, then the city code needs to be clear on what specific structures can be built in certain zones; but he said if the concern is “obnoxious neighbors,” then he will work to ease the tensions between student/citizen relations.
Small businesses were a worthy mention for CONA.

“As Mayor, I introduced the idea of making San Marcos the Small Business Capitol of Texas,” said Narvaiz. She said she supported this goal by working with the economic development board and a policy development sub-committee to initiate the process for developing a new economic incentive policy. She said the City Council adopted the recommended policy in 2007, and an incentive category for Micro/Small Business exists for the first time. “I believe that key areas of focus when recruiting potential employers and giving consideration to incentive requests should be business sectors that reflect the degree fields or technical training of our future workforce interests, assuring human resource availability.”

Newman said San Marcos should encourage and attract small businesses. “In certain situations, a time-limited incentive or abatement could be in order, but not necessarily as a standard policy.” He said cases where incentives or abatements are necessary should be scrutinized “with a sense of responsibility to the taxpaying public, and be qualified in regard to their economic dividend to the city.” He said businesses are successful when they operate self-sufficiently at a profit. Newman said an advantage businesses have in San Marcos is the facilitation of commerce through the administration of city government at the department levels. “A prosperous business environment in San Marcos is the best inventive.”

McCarty agreed with Narvaiz and Newman that San Marcos should encourage and help small businesses that are currently in or may come to the city. “I’m a proponent of the free-market. If there is something that the city can do, whatever that is, if its tax abatements, if that is really really a concern, then I would say yeah we can waive them for a year as you start up.” He said that if after the year the business may still need help, then the city can look to see how they may further assist. “Something that needs to be promoted is local business, as opposed to national retail; that’s just cancerous growth.”

CONA provided citizens with a list of propositions one through five, adding a comment on propositions two and five.

by ANDY SEVILLA
CORRESPONDENT

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0 thoughts on “Mayoral Candidates debate issues

  1. I would like to thank CONA for hosting this very important event. I also want to thank all the citizens who came out to speak and hear the candidates. Voters are able to make a wiser choice after speaking and listing to the candidates.

  2. Hey Andy? What happenned to the last paragraph of this article that posted this morning?
    I had a really mean response all ready to go, i go to post, and…
    The last paragraph was pulled and changed to this one sentence thing!
    Here is the last paragraph of this article as originally posted, for those of you who didn’t read it:
    FROM NEWSTREAMZ, 10-3-08:
    “CONA provided citizens with a list of propositions one through five, adding a comment on propositions two and five. Several CONA board members had expressed support for candidates of their choosing before the debate took place. CONA President Camille Phillips, time-keeper during the debate, provided the comment on propositions two and five and is a campaign helper for David Newman. She said being the president of CONA, who hosted the debate, and being involved in Newman’s campaign, a candidate for mayor, as well as, providing comment on certain proposition does not present a conflict of interest. Phillips said a conflict of interest would only be caused if “accurate information is not important.” According to the University Star CONA Vice President II Amy Kirwin is a supporter of Newman’s campaign. Newman confirmed Kirwin’s support; and she asked this information not be immediately released. CONA board member Sherri Bilson said she had not endorsed any candidate. Unknowingly contradicting her, Newman said Bilson was a campaign supporter; prompting Bilson to retract her statement. Bilson said she misunderstood the question and said she was indeed a supporter of Newman. CONA board member Elena Duran is endorsing Narvaiz.”
    andy=fail

  3. Thanks Chris North for sharing this vauluable info with the rest of us! Seems the CONA Board needs to take some lessons on the definition of “conflict of interest” and “ethics”!!! What a sham! Not exactly a great role model for the communities young people. At least Newman was honest about their involvement! And, I’m really disappointed that newstreamz would make those changes rather than follow journalistic standards. Feeling sad and let down by newstreamz.

  4. The change was entirely my call. There is no conspiracy here, just a misunderstanding within our staff. We felt that the last paragraph had the ‘possibility’ of being something important and thus decided to pursue it as a separate issue. Before it was first published, we had decided to pull it and investigate it entirely as a different story. Wires were crossed and a version with the paragraph was published incorrectly.

    It was corrected because we felt that it was wrong to imply wrongdoing without research and chose to err on the side of integrity and truth and not be responsible for creating a conspiracy where there may not be one. Rest assured, the truth will be found out and that is much more important than sensationalism.

  5. If the last part of this article did state the above information, then I would personally like to make a statement. We were in the middle of the debate, I was on the front row & the reporter kept asking me a question. I could not hear him & I thought he asked me if I was an official worker on Dave Newman’s campaign. I said no. As soon as the debate was over I looked the reporter up & asked what was he trying to ask me during the debate. He said have you contributed to Dave Newmans campaign. I told him I had. I am sorry to see San Marcos political scene mirroring the national political scene, where information like this is twisted to discredit people. I did not retract my statement, because of anything Dave Newman said. I simply did not hear the reporter & I never talked to Dave Newman after the debate to know what he had said. The reporter told me what Dave had said after I asked him what he was trying to ask me at the debate, & I gave him my answer. If you are going to quote people then get your facts straight, do not put your political slant on the facts.
    I feel the debate was a fair debate & a very good opportunity for the citizens to ask questions & talk to the candidates. I truly hope San Marcos can have an election without having to play the political backroom parlor politics the national campaigns are using. Open & honest goverment should be more then a slogan.

  6. Chris and Andy- you should both be fired.
    James, you are an idiot and are in need of an ethics lesson yourself. What is your definition of conflict of interest?
    Here’s a clue: It’s about money.
    From Wikapedia:
    “A conflict of interest is a situation in which someone in a position of trust, such as a lawyer, insurance adjuster, a politician,… or physician, has competing professional or personal interests. Such competing interests can make it difficult to fulfill his or her duties impartially. A conflict of interest exists even if no unethical or improper act results from it. A conflict of interest can create an appearance of impropriety that can undermine confidence in the person, profession, or court system. ..”
    &
    “More generally, conflict of interests can be defined as any situation in which an individual or corporation (either private or governmental) is in a position to exploit a professional or official capacity in some way for their personal or corporate benefit.”

    Are you implying Ms. Phillips had a conflict that would render her unable to keep impartial time during the debate?
    Or that CONA cannot ethically have an opinion on the proposed amendment to the City Charter that would specifically remove the word “neighborhood” from a sentence in the Charter?
    Newsflash:
    CONA’s mission is to “…protect and advance the interests of neighborhoods in and around San Marcos…”, with a sub-purpose of “Submission on nominations of citizens favorable to neighborhood interests for appointment to City and county boards, commissions and committees…” The reason we exist is to have an opinion and share it with the pertinent person/entity.

    “CONA provided citizens with a list of propositions one through five, adding a comment on propositions two and five. Several CONA board members had expressed support for candidates of their choosing before the debate took place.”
    But, in your informative story on the SMABOR debate (Sept 13):
    “San Marcos Area Board of Realtors, SMABOR, hosts a debate for the Candidates seeking City Government. The candidates for Mayor voiced their vision for the city, which led them to different paths, but promises an eventful future for San Marcos. Mayor Susan Narvaiz and David Newman, candidates for Mayor, began the debate with their opening statements; a third candidate, Daniel McCarthy, declined to participate in the debate according to the moderator, a government affairs committee member for SMABOR.”
    GASP! A member of the Board of Realtors moderating the Board of Realtors debate? And you don’t even give the guys’ name???
    Did you ask all the members of SMABOR who they were going to vote for before their debate and publish that information? Why not?
    Is there a different for standard for CONA than for SMABOR?
    you=fail
    no, seriously. Full of FAIL.

  7. And since you didn’t ask me, and I’m on the CONA board- I’m not supporting anyone in this stupid mess. I may even vote for that Daniel kid. failfailfail

  8. Just for the record…. Andy asked me “AFTER” the debate who I was endorsing as it was no shock since I was wearing a Susan Narvaiz t-shirt. And what all this crap boils down to is Camille was questioned about her being the Cona president and supporting Newman at the same time. Her reaction was I supported Susan four years ago and nobody seemed to care. Although Susan ran un-opposed. Call it what you want. Guess it just depends on the individual.

  9. Chris North…what??? you can’t be serious about voting for daniel, unless you think his lack of experience would be good for a growing city. Or perhaps you just want more of the dripping springs influence controlling all of Hays County. And before you call others an idiot, perhaps you should look at your own record—-like how to make a proper Open Records request since you blew that one.

  10. teresa who? i love all these “anonymous” posts. grow up, lady. no, i’m not going to vote for the kid. but i wonder who from Newstreamz is going to follow me into the voting booth to make sure i vote for the “right people”.

    and yeah, i didn’t read the open records manual. but i tried to get these jerks at Newstreamz to look into a situation with the SMCISD that is by many accounts, messed up, and all they did was post my e-mail without asking me. I’m trying to do something helpful for my neighborhood and community.
    just like this kid running for mayor is brave enough to take a stand and putting himself out there to be ridiculed by folks like you.
    what the hell have you done lately?

  11. Chris dont sweat it… These people dont know you. Those of us that do know what a leader in our community you are and we need more of you.
    Keep taking names Chris !!

  12. Correction on my part. Susan did not run un-opposed four years ago. She ran against Bob Habingrather (sp?) And yes she did need Conas support. There are alot of different angles to this story and only those of us involved can actually hatch it out amonst ourselves.

  13. I’m a grateful for all the comments and encourage the continued dialogue, as speech is a necessary element of democracy. I understand why Chris North is concerned about why I originally reported on who CONA’s board members are supporting in the mayor’s race, and did not do the same for SMABOR, who previously hosted a debate. This issue was not raised because SMABOR’s president was not a helper/worker for any candidate’s campaign. That is why I found peculiar that CONA was hosting a debate given that CONA president, Camille Phillips, is an active helper/worker for David Newman’s Campaign. In the original article this information was included, but my boss, Chris, decided we not publish that section and instead further research the details of the subject to identify if it is worth reporting. Sensationalism is not our business reporting the facts is.

    Respectfully,
    Andy Sevilla

  14. Andy, with all due respect, your comments show your lack of contextual knowledge of local political alliances in SM. The moderator of the Board of Realtors debate and chair of their “Government Affairs committee” was Ryan Thomason. This picture of Susan’s re-election fundraiser, has 5 local Realtors in the front row, including Thomason.

    http://www.sanmarcosmercury.com/2008/07/brad-rollins-blog-the-rainmaker/

    The SMBOR have been campaign helpers/workers/contributors for Susan’s entire political career. The SMBOR endorsed Susan and wrote a check to her campaign as well.
    There is nothing wrong or “peculiar” as you put it, with either group hosting a debate or some of their members supporting a candidate. The Realtors debate is held during daytime work hours, and the neighborhood debate is held in the evening.

  15. Okay. I hear you Andy. And I understand your young-reporter-instinct to find ‘the story’ and ‘report the facts’. But there is a line between telling the truth and embarrassing people(fox news).

    Ethically and generally,if someone tells you they don’t want to answer your question publically, or it’s ‘off-the-record’, does a reporter have to respect that? What are the Reporter Rules?

    Lots of folks don’t want their political opinions publicized because we all go the the same grocery store and restaurants and schools. Even local businesses can be detrimentally affected for their owners taking a side(i’ve seen that happen). People are generally nice and want to be liked (obviously i don’t share that concern:), all with skin of varying thicknesses.

    Anyway, there is no story with the CONA debate thing, just as there was no story with the SMABOR debate thing.
    Everyone knew that SMABOR would support Susan long before the debate occurred. Duh.
    There was no attempt in either debate to slant the questions or shave time to give unfair advantage to one candidate. (i’ve seen that happen too.)
    There is no conflict of interest here, no “gotcha” story. Just good people with different opinions participating in the process.

    This is small town stuff and it’s good to have a little respect for that- that is if you ever want anyone to talk to you again! Pick your battles, Andy. I do it everyday.
    You write well, by the way.

  16. We all hide behind our smiles and polite conversations, but underneath it all, we all have an agenda – I love the small town environment. I like that Andy was trying to show peoples true colors, and investigate a little bit. That part of the story was removed from the article becuase more research was necessary to see if there was anything there. I think those with dirty hands are the first to bark when true facts come out to light, but I’m not suggesting anything. I agree with Chris that we should pick our battles, however I dont know if journalist have that option – they have to report what they see, regardless of who their friends may be. I also think that when the Univesity Star and Newman confirms that Amy Kirwin is a supporter of that campaign, the reporter is at liberty to report that even if Amy doesnt want to have it done. Once again I reiterate that we all have an agenda we’re trying to push, right Sherri Bilson and Amy Kirwin? BUT IM NOT SUGGESTING ANYTHING!
    I think both the SMABOR and CONA should be researched to see if any rules were broken or if there is anything worth reporting, if nothing else that should get some wheels turning towards transparency. Im gonna love that.
    Im not sure if a reporter has shooken up the political environment like this before, but then again Im just a college kid and have only lived here 3 years so Im sure someone can enlighten me with that. Anyway I look forward to reading more on this subject, if not via a new article then through the comments.

  17. I am glad there is dialogue happening within our community. I am disappointed to see it wasted on people’s rights to support the candidate of their choice and whether or not they want it out for the world to view; when there were many issues brought up at the debate that should being discussed.

    We live in a growing community that needs the eyes and ears of EVERYONE to make sure the city and city council (and add the county government and county leaders to that!) provide a vision and/or policy that best supports all citizens.

    The CONA debate (and SMABOR debate and the upcoming League of Women Voters debate and any other debate- heard there is one at Tantra possibly) should be a tool to assist the citizens of San Marcos in the process of deciding their choice for their elected officials. I suggest people show up to the debates, ask their questions, and listen to what the candidates have to say. BUT also research what has been going on with the city and city council (and county). And if you are really interested, request a copy of the campaign contribution reports from the city clerk. It is your responsibility as a citizen of this community and country to ask questions about the decisions being made and to educate yourself on the issues and the candidates. This goes beyond local elections!

    With a diverse community, there is more than one answer or point of view to responsibly manage our growth in San Marcos. We all come into the middle of people’s stories. We need to listen and respect these histories as we work together.

  18. Howdy y’all

    To clear up my first quote, which is a mutant sentence of sorts: What I meant was there has been a DMP has been in the works for three years and what have they come up with as a downtown parking solution? further study.

    Secondly I don’t speak with typos.

    Last,I dunno if it makes a difference but I do believe Andy said or inferred to me after the debate that he was for Susan.

    Have a wonderful day!

  19. (typos I mean)

    My statement regarding the author, Andy: I must have recalled incorrectly as he did not mention any such support. I didn’t mean to call`his integrity into question, just to point out that it’s okay to have a favorite as long as it doesn’t show in your professional capacity. I do not think it did a the debate nor in this article. I think the whole question is a little ridiculous to anyone who attended.

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