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

October 21st, 2008
League of Women Voters hosts debate

To see the mayoral candidate’s section of the debate in higher-quality audio and video click on the image below.

The first day of early voting fell in conjunction with The San Marcos Area League of Women Voters Candidates Debate. Candidates of eight races in State, County, and City offices discussed issues affecting the community. They had the opportunity to speak to a packed room in the San Marcos Activity Center.The candidates were allowed one minute to introduce themselves and their issues. One minute was also allotted for answering questions and rebutting statements. If a candidate could not attend the debate, the League allowed them to send in a written statement. For each candidate Moderator Kaylene Ray posed two questions from the league and then opened the floor to citizens in attendance.

Contenders for the Mayor’s race answered questions about the economy, water and waste water issues, city debt and aiding the less-fortunate. Incumbent Mayor Susan Narvaiz focused on job growth and said one thing to do was to follow through with the relocation of Springtown Mall.

David Newman said the main way to establish a sound economy in San Marcos was to make it a tourist destination by renovating the downtown area. He said the money for the mall relocation project could be better spent on local community projects.

Daniel McCarthy agreed with Newman, referring to the retail mall project as a “cancer” and had an environmental agenda where he proposed making San Marcos the “greenest city in Texas” through the institution of solar panels and by concentrating on energy savings.

On the issue of water needs and waste water treatment, Narvaiz said any project involving surface water will cost money. Newman proposed creating a reservoir near town to cut water transportation costs, while McCarthy suggested running the water treatment plants on solar power in order to cut energy costs.

On the question of bars being open until 2 a.m. all candidates agreed that safety was a big concern. Narvaiz said consistent bar hours make it safe, but said she would like to hear from the citizens on such non-binding issues. Newman and McCarthy both suggested later hours would help keep bar patrons from driving to Austin to take advantage of 2 a.m. bar closing hours.

The first issue on the plate for Council Member Place 4 candidates was affordable housing. Lisa Marie Coppoletta said there needed to be open lines of communication within the community when it involved housing costs. Incumbent Place 4 City Councilmember Chris Jones asked what the definition of affordable housing was.

“$80,000 won’t buy you a house in San Marcos,” he said. “It’ll buy you a condo.”

On the issue of revitalizing the downtown area, Jones proposed the introduction of a county-wide EMS system, tax increment financing and keeping the local money downtown.
Coppoletta proposed keeping the pre-existing businesses alive by making San Marcos a desirable location for the film industry.

Candidates in the race for State Representative Matt Young and Patrick Rose discussed the need for rain water collection. In terms of unfunded mandates, both agreed that unfunded mandates were harmful for the district. Young said he didn’t believe in unfunded mandates and Rose proposed to reduce the appraisal cap. Candidate Tom Gleinser was not present for the debate.

Bill Huddleston found himself alone once again at the debate table as incumbent Sherriff Allen Bridges was at another event. Bridges issued a statement saying that his duties of Sherriff came first and he was attending a meeting to decide on the naming of a new school. Huddleston answered a question about rehabilitation for criminal offenders and said jails and prisons have become “universities for crime”. He said prisons should not be intended for all non-violent offenders.

Nick Ramus and incumbent Debbie Gonzalez-Ingalsbe, both up for County Commissioner Precinct 1, agreed that the most important issue was that of social services and programs needed more funding. On the topic of desirable and undesirable growth in the area, Ramus chalked desirable growth up to property and business development, while Gonzalez-Ingalsbe said creating recreational parks and protecting the environment made an area more desirable.

County Commissioner Precinct 3 candidates, incumbent Will Conley and Steve Klepfer, discussed the importance of environmental conservation. Klepfer proposed a plan for county-wide rainwater collection and said San Marcos springs needed to be left alone. Conley said there needed to be more rules and regulations for developers and he had already proposed a plan to protect several acres of land in Hays County.

Candidates for Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1, Place 1, Rodney Van Oudekerke and incumbent Jo Anne Prado, spent much of their debate comparing experience as a public servant to the community. Oudekerke said he would always be accessible to the public and anyone could call him at home if the need was present. Prado said her offices were open until 7 p.m. every Wednesday night for anyone who needed to meet with her.

Tax Assessor-Collector candidates, incumbent Luanne Caraway and Robert Avera, were asked where they stand on the issue of delinquent taxes. Avera said long-standing delinquent taxes needed to be dealt with as a soon as possible. Caraway said there should be a way to pre-pay taxes to keep them from becoming delinquent and more research had to be done on the issue.

“Title searches need to be done on properties with delinquent taxes,” said Caraway.

Arthur Taylor, of San Marcos, said he thought the overall debate was successful and informative.

“I think this debate for the general election is much better, more organized than the primary debate,” he said. “When I came into this room I had a lot of questions about the sincerity of where the candidates stood on the issues and the more I listened to the candidates speak the more came through as to where they really stood, what they really felt.”

Taylor said he did not think the candidates fully answered any of the questions he posed to them and blames that on the time constraints not allowing him to ask follow-up questions.

Members of the league handed out voter’s guides and election literature. Early voting continues until Oct. 31, and Election Day is November 4, 2008.

To view the entire debate click the video link provided on the Newstreamz home page.

by Rasmi Hunt
Correspondent

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0 thoughts on “League of Women Voters hosts debate

  1. How is naming a school a sheriff’s official business? I am still waiting for one specific deed or special qualification of Allen Bridges over Bill Huddleston. Huddleston’s common sense and willingness to answer questions sounds good to me.
    Did or has Rose explained his vote for the “defining marriage” amendment or his reversal of opinion?

  2. just a quick correction on Rose and his position on marriage. To my knowledge, Rose has always and will always (sadly) oppose marriage equality. His re versal in position comes on the issue of same-sex adoption. A few years ago he voted to ban sane-sex couples from adopting. he has now said that it is one of the biggest mistakes he has ever made. I believe he is genuine in that statement.

  3. McCarthy came off much stronger and better prepared than the last debate (although his closing statement left much to be desired). He and Dave Newman teamed up against Mayor Narvaiz, who seemed too distant and artificial to respond adequately. I’m not sure how strong McCarthy is at SWT but he and Dave could force a runoff vs Susan. Turnout is going to be so much higher than before since it’s the same time as the President etc.

  4. Bill Huddleston is a disgruntled employee. He has been fired from numerous positions and in my opinion has shown a lack of common sense. If you were there for the beginning of the debate they introduced all the candidates who were not going to be debating and for some reason he thought that included him and was confused when they told him that it did not include him. Now I agree that Allen Bridges has spread himself too thin and should possibly consider attending at least one debate seeing as he is running for office. But it would also be nice if he was to have a real opponent as opposed to someone who has proven to be so unsuccessful in the past.

  5. Bill Huddleston has served Hays County many years and deserves our respect, if not our votes. Disgruntled describes many voters and does not disqualify anyone for anything. These catch all phrases like disgruntled, real, and unsuccessful mean nothing unless backed-up with facts. Which jobs was he fired from, why, and how does Kaitlin know this? Does Kaitlin really expect us to believe these lies and character assassinations? What makes a “real” opponent anyway?
    I can understand Bill’s confusion that Kaitlin described. How do you debate with yourself? Are there more debates scheduled?
    Does anyone know how many seasoned officers have left the county in the last two years? I have talked with Bill, and he was not angry and/or incompetent. He has a website where anyone can google and see his qualifications, which are extensive.
    Thanks Tyler for the information.

  6. Just for everyones information, Sheriff Bridges was at the Hays CISD building to support the naming of a new school after Deputy Fernando Amaya that was killed last month in a crash wreck while going to work. I may opinion this is a far more important thing then a debate. It shows that he is supportive of his department and of his officers. Fernando was a valueable asset to the community and the sheriff’s office and I would bet his family was honored that the Sheriff is working to honor his memory by getting a school named after him.

    I will say that I know both candiates and have nothing personal against either one of them. However I will point out that Sheriff Bridges in the only one that has adminstrative experience in the office of Sheriff and in running a law enforcement organization. Sheriff Bridges has always point his officers and employees first and politics second. One important factor to look at is that Sheriff Bridges has received every endoresment from the organizations that represent his officers, these inculde organizations that are run by his officers. So if things are so horrorible in the sheriff’s officer, way do his employees support him. I know people will say that it is because they work for him, but all endorsements are voted on by the memebers and everyone has a right to speak there mind.

    As for Huddleston he was removed from the postion of Detective and placed back as a patrol deputy and that is way he retired from the sheriff’s office. This did not come from the Bridges Camp, it came from people I know inside the sheriff’s office.

    Also for the seasoned officers that have left in the past years, there have been three. One became Constable in San Marcos and the other left to go work for him. Not a really big deal. There have been a few others that left, however all left to pursue other careers and did not leave because of the administration at the sheriff’s office. Also, the majority of the open positions that the Sheriff spoke about where open positions from new patrol spots and promotions inside the department.

    If you want a really leader for law enforcement in Hays County choose Allen Bridges, he is the only proven leader and sheriff’s office administrator in the race for sheriff.

  7. From the Statesman on endoresments:

    “”Sheriff Allen Bridges is seeking re-election to another term and wins our endorsement. Bridges, 62, served 11 years with the sheriff’s office after retiring from the Austin Police Department, and he has run an efficient, reliable department in his three years at the helm.

    Bridges’ Democratic opponent, Bill Huddleston, 62, retired from the Hays sheriff’s department in 2006. Huddleston has long experience in law enforcement, but we see no need for voters to retire Bridges. “”

    Enough said

  8. Newsstreamz, please verify before printing lies like those by Kaitlin!! That is irresponsible journalism when you allow lies to be printed about someone {saying a candidate has been fired numerous times when there is NO such record and it’s all public!!!}. Kaitlin is a part of Bridge’s campaign organization, and my neighbor. Sadly she thought it was funny to make up this lie and smear a good man just to see if you would print it. You guys are better than that. Please remove her post! Afterall, how would YOU like it if someone printed such lies about you ????

  9. RE: JD’s post about Austin Statesman endorsement.

    I noticed the Austin Statesman endorsed incumbent Hays County Sheriff Allen Bridges due to them “…seeing no reason to retire Bridges”. Doesn’t the editorial staff read the local papers? Did they miss their own Austin Statesman editorial entitled “…Hays Sheriff’s Department ill-suited for rapid growth” which ran on April 2, 2008?

    The phrase “…Hays Sheriff’s Department ill-suited for rapid growth” doesn’t exactly describe a well managed operation. News outlets in April of 2008 widely reported the Hays County Sheriff Department “…law enforcement staffing crisis”.

    I wonder if the Statesman’s editors watched as Sheriff Bridges hosted that full blown media circus at the Hays County Commissioner’s Court at the time as a method to try and substitute for insufficient budget planning for compensation for our law enforcement personnel? The Sheriff had nearly three full years to manage to the problem previous to the situation devolving into the crisis it became.

    However, the media circus was great for “raising awareness” among the criminal element in Central Texas looking for an excellent community in which to relocate. What better place and time to practice their trade than when the Sheriff announces on television that he is not staffed with sufficient personnel?

    I guess I may be a little too critical of the editorial staff’s decision. But then again, I live out here in the county and have to deal with the election results. Far from “seeing no reason to retire Bridges” many Hays county residents thought at the time that the Sheriff’s media circus management tactic was more than enough reason to try a new manager. Perhaps Democrat candidate for Sheriff Bill Huddleston would have been the wiser endorsement decision given the tremendous amount of business management and specialized law enforcement experience and training listed on his resume.

  10. First off in response to Bill. Bridges used the the naming of the school and as an excuse to not face Bill Huddeleston because he cannot handle being confronted with his failures. Puts his employee’s first? Yeah if they are his retired friends that he brings in and promotes. As far as being endorsed by law enforcement orginazations that is because the majority of those groups work at the Sheriff’s Department and can’t speak their mind without retaliation. And regarding the employee’s that have left it has been more than two and they were either run off or could not handle what the Sheriff’s Department had become.

    Let’s not forget Bridges has never really been elected Sheriff. He was handed the position, which he has proven time and time again that he is not qualified to do. He has no experience in real police work and it shows. Bridges does not appear to be a bad person but he does appear to be way over his head.

  11. Bridges ran for the office two years ago as defined my the law for filling an incompleted term. As for the officers organizations that support the sheriff, CLEAT is not run by or part of the sheriff’s office and all the organizations also consist of members from every law enforcement agency in the county.

    Also, remember that the sheriff plans his budget and then has to fight with the court to get the money. They are more at fault for the low pay standards that the sheriff fought to fix. The “media circus” was because that is the only way the Jugde Sumter will listen to anyone, so it was a good move.

    As for Bill’s reason for leaving it’s a fact he was removed from being a detective due to poor work performance.

  12. Too bad the 2 candidates could not debate. After reading all this, I don’t know how to cast my vote.

  13. The choice is yours…however I am voting for Bridges, because who is better to judge the quality of his performance then his officers and they support him.

  14. Com’on JD, everyone knows that deputies MUST support the current Sheriff no matter who it is or they will get fired! So reality is they don’t have the freedom to talk publicly and the truth is many are privately supporting Huddleston! Now THAT is a fact and reality. Perhaps you can get this Sheriff and all future ones to sign a written legally binding contract in public that says no one will be fired for publicly supporting their opponent?? But don’t hold your breath, they all love that power over their deputies!!

  15. Truth be told you can spin anything you want anyway you want. Yes the highly qualified people that have left the department accepted jobs in other areas or other departments (Did you really think they would not get other work?). But what you should ask yourself is why did they leave? Would they have left had the current administration not been what it is?

    And to those who say Bridges is qualified – the only management experience he has is the last three years of his career when he was appointed to this position. Look it up – his only experience was as a crime prevention officer in Austin before he came to Hays County to do the same job. In his entire career he has never had the management experience of handling large budgets and/or supervising this many employees. I believe it shows in the way he has dealt with budgetary and employee issues. I think he has not really been the leader that a rapidly growing Hays County needs. He has had his chance to learn on the job – now lets get someone in this office that can do it.

    Vote for Huddleston – he has the common sense to rebuild and return this department in the premier organization once was!!!

  16. The issues being discussed between these two candidates is NOT surprising. The overall level of general competence in Hays County elected officials needs to come under serious review. There are elected officials whom we have all placed in office that are neither educated nor experienced to maintain a political office let alone do the job. This County is no different from Governments across this nation. We elect people based on their popularity and NOT on their qualifications to do the job. We don’t take time in our busy lives to really take a serious look at who we are voting for. When qualifications are compared between Bill Huddleston and Allen Bridges, Bill comes out ahead, plain and simple. Mr. Bridges has been given an opportunity to prove himself to the voters of this County. More over, he has been given a greater opportunity to prove himself and his abilities to his hard working Deputies and Officers at the Sheriff’s Office. In an opinion shared by a lot of voters, he has failed miserably on both fronts. This County is growing folks and we need strong leadership. I honestly wouldn’t categorize either man as being a real strong leader, but I must vote for the man that at least has the education, the qualifications, and the most potential. Bill Huddleston is certainly aware of the problems Mr. Bridges has created and perpetuated during his years in office and is prepared to fix them one by one. Let’s give him that chance!

  17. Ok, enough of throwing around misconceptions…First of all, Former sheriff Don Montague left the county in mid term…Montague had two Chief Deputies that didnt live in Hays County and didnt have the expierence to do the job. Right from the former sheriff’s mouth. Then he addressed commissioners court and praised Bridges for his expierence and dedication to Hays County and recommended the court to appoint him. Check the court records. Due to the fact that montague left prior to half his term being up, Bridges had to run for election. Bridges did this un-opposed. So, Bridges is elected. Mr. Huddleston hasnt run or supervised anything other than a so called ranch. Have him show the proof of his leadership abilities. Lets face it, Mr. Huddleston worked for the sheriffs office and was demoted for poor job performance and poor attitude. Ask any deputy that was here at that time. Now former sheriff Montague isnt pleased with Bridges and the changes he made so he encouraged Huddleston to run. Mr. Huddleston is a mouthpiece of former sheriff Don Montague. Dont think for a minute that Montague dosent have a favor in the works from Huddleston. Show us the so called expierence Mr. huddleston and let us be the judge. At least Bridges is there making it happen. Tell them you are good buddies with Montague and tell then how you come to the sheriff’s office and campaign to current employees while Bridges is in his office. Tell them how you came to the sheriffs office and shot a commercial walking up to a sheriffs vehicle like you were getting in. Just like Paul Harvey…get “the rest of the story”

  18. OK, BG… let’s do have the truth… first of all, while are all the posts here from Bridge’s people sent by “hidden” names? Why are you and others ashamed to publicly say who you are rather than “BG” and “JD” ?? Second, Huddleston DOES have the leadership experience in the Sheriff’s department—having commanded units, but then I guess the facts of this escape you while you sit back hiding your identity while slamming a good man! As for Bridges, explain why he was only a patrolman all his years in Austin police department and never even got promoted to corporal or sgt.??? lack of leadership qualities perhaps????

  19. You know my name now…big deal that I used “JD’ since I have been going by that for the last 30 years. You got one over on me and really proved me wrong. You can bad mouth Bridges all you want, but I think that I am going to take the high road now like he has done and avoid the mud slinging, un-like Mr. Huddleston. “RE-ELECT OUR SHERIFF…ALLEN BRIDGES”

  20. Mr. Chris North, it is unfortunate my husband was not at the debate, certainly, but as one of the people stated, he was with Deputy Amaya’s widow at the meeting during this difficult time in her life. I would encourage you to view the News 8 Austin interview video with both candidates and make up your mind. Regarding the law enforcement endorsements, my husband did not influence their decision in any way. My husband is an honest, hard working, dedicated law enforcement officer who has dedicated his life to his profession. He is very proud of his committment to his employees and to the citizens of Hays County. He has run his campaign without ANY negative comments, which is honorable.

  21. So Bridges wants us to believe that he is altruistic and was at the naming of a school after a deceased officer to support the widow. Well I say SHAME ON YOU FOR TRYING TO USE IT FOR YOUR POLITCAL GAIN! If you were really that interested in preserving his memory maybe you should have just kept that to yourself and not politicized it. Now you have tainted the event.

    And by the way this was just one of the debates he missed – why has he missed all the others except the Republican Party meet the candidates. He can’t handle being confronted by the opposition and having to face the truth.

    Get real people the only running Bridges has done is to run this department back into the stone ages! We the residents of Hays County deserve a leader that can be progressive instead of reacting after the fact.

  22. Hummmm…is that coffee I smell? Well, it wakes me up but certainly doesn’t wake up our illustrious Sheriff. Alan Bridges is certainly a good looking guy with great charm as is well presented by the media. Just goes to show you that a pretty picture doesn’t truly show you what you are looking at.

    Bridges lack of experience and his inadequate performance have led us to where we are today. Had Bridges been the wonderful leader that we all hoped he would be, we wouldn’t be here pouring our guts into trying to get the best candidate elected, Huddleston.
    Anyone can say that they have experience and get recognized for doing good. With a strong background in crime prevention, which has certainly been recognized, Bridges has brought positive recognition to Hays County Sheriff’s Department. However, while he was spending time tooting his own horn about his experience and skills in crime prevention, crime itself was actually increasing in Hays County.

    Official state crime statistics indicate that from 2006-2007, crime rates rose. In fact, rape increased by 84%, robbery by 75%, burglary by 26%, and larceny by 20%. For a Sheriff that totes his success on crime prevention, he might want to reevaluate how is efforts are truly impacting the county, they aren’t.

    We have heard about Bridges attempts to portray himself as someone who is saving the county money by buying cheaper cars (which cost more to repair and replace), buying civilian computers in place of police computers for officers to use, and pairing down the department. However for every few employees he “streamlined,” he added handfuls of other employees after doing so. It is one thing to downsize and maintain. It is another to bring in your best buddies and end up costing the department more.

    Bridges certainly is good at playing the political game. I would go so far as to say he is an expert. However, is the safety of you, your family, and friends important to you or do you want it treated like a game for the benefit of someone getting elected? If he can’t protect us and make wise decisions with our tax money, what makes you think that he will do all that he can to represent you well as a citizen of this great county?

    Before you vote on November 4, please make sure that you place an informed vote. While our Sheriff has proven that he can’t wake up and smell the coffee, you sure can. Vote for the man with the proven record who advocates for our lawmen and women. If you truly care about your safety and this county, I encourage you to vote right and in this case, vote for democrat Bill Huddleston.

    Thanks,
    A republican with a heart

  23. Rumor has it that the “endorsement” of Allen Bridges by one of the law enforcement organizations in the county was done with only about 25% of the members casting votes in the endorsement. Not sure if that includes votes against, but it is striking that 75% of the members chose to abstain from voting. That’s some show of support, Huh? Maybe we SHOULD speak to the Deputies on the street.. but then again, who’s to say they are going to be at liberty to speak.

  24. I don’t disagree with you JD. My point was that, rumor or not, it is quite perplexing that only 25% or less of the officers could support him and it can be construed as ALL of his officers supporting him. I guess there is a silent majority there. Silent because they don’t feel free to speak.

  25. THe “vote” may have been low due to the turnout at the meeting…there are a bunch of reasons for this. I still think that in this day in age if the officers were so “beat down” and “unhappy” then these endorsements would have not even happened. Truth be told, law enforcement in Hays County and Central Texas is pretty well known for fighting against problem cheifs and sheriffs. Even if the rumor is correct, how can you knock the CLEAT endorsement, which is a state wide agency, where Hays County officers have no control over.

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