Place Three San Marcos City Councilman Daniel Guerrero is starting a new chapter in his life with his decision not to run for re-election and instead take on a new job. Guerrero said he heard news on the termination of his employment after he had filed his candidacy for re-election. He worked for a non-profit company and it lost part of its funding due to the struggling economy. Guerrero said he wrestled with the decision for a week. “It was going to be difficult for me to commit to a new employer and to learn a new business [while] trying to seek re-election,” said Guerrero. “I had the vote of confidence from my family and numerous supporters and friends. I felt…I was letting them down if I withdrew. In the end, I needed to do what was best for myself and my family,” which resulted in not seeking re-election.
Guerrero said he was conscious that the time to file was decreasing as he was making his decision and that was why he withdrew with a week left in the filing deadline. “I wanted to make sure if I chose to withdraw that I did so with enough time for other people…to put their hat in the ring,” he said. “At no time did I ever try to manipulate [the filing process because] I certainly did not want… a repeat of a few years ago. In fact, I did everything I could to avoid that and didn’t want to take more than a week to make that decision.”
On city government spending, Guerrero said he supports the use of consultants to aid city government. He pointed to the consultants the city hired to develop the Downtown Master Plan, newly approved, and said the council recently hired consultants to participate in the development of a master plan for the fire department. Further, the city has set aside funds to hire consultants for the development of an Emergency Medical System (EMS) Master Plan.
Guerrero said such consultants “are healthy” because it is “important to get a different perspective” and to look at San Marcos and its issues “with a fresh pair of eyes.” Guerrero said the interest of the community is in the forefront and wanted to avoid “a sense of tunnel vision.” He also defended the city’s hiring of lobbyists saying that they played a “significant role” in getting funding for the Wonder World Drive extension and in dealing with the Edwards Aquifer Authority.
Guerrero pointed to many things that San Marcos offers Texas State graduates admitting, “it’s my hometown.” Guerrero identified the “strong” school district with “innovative teachers, beautiful parks, wonderful natural resources, friendly people, excellent commerce in retail and industry, [providing residents with] a number of different opportunities.” Guerrero admitted “there’s still so much opportunity for growth” and this “growth opportunity” is where Texas State graduates “can really play a role.” He said the city is in need of innovative ideas. He pointed to the Rio Vista Falls as a case in point where a local kayaker suggested an innovative idea and now a new destination for visitors has been founded.
Guerrero suggests the high water rates were due to the emphasis the city has put on “ensuring that we have the highest quality of water [and] the highest quantity of water” for daily needs, recreation, visitors, and for new and existing businesses and industries. “We’ve done our best to try to be ahead of the curve, ahead of the eight ball.” Planning for future water needs has “played a role in the elevated cost that you see.”
Guerrero said his strongest asset to city government was his ability “to work with people.” [That] helped me to be able to build, and it’s going to sound like a cliché, but build bridges between people.” Guerrero expressed gratitude to San Marcos for all it has provided him. He highlighted scholarships that a number of local organizations gave him and he said that he was not sure if he would be a college graduate today without them. Guerrero said he did his best to give back to the community by serving on council where he could “take those skills and those investments that people had made for me and give back.” As a native San Marcian, Guerrero also hoped that he provided his colleagues with a perspective that they may not have otherwise had and to give San Marcians a voice which they otherwise may have lacked.
Finally, Guerrero said his “public safety focus has been significant.” He served repeatedly on the EMS board and said he did his best to learn as much as possible about police and fire department needs.
Guerrero said his greatest failure was not having much affect on voter apathy. He has suggested moving some city council meetings to different parts of town but nothing came of that suggestion. He blames himself “for not doing enough about” the apathy.
For Guerrero, the three most important issues facing San Marcos in the next five years are transportation, education, and environmental protection. He said transportation is important, not just for residents, but for visitors to the city who are drawn to the outlet malls, the university, the river and downtown. He said safe road are needed for residents, children, and businesses. Further, he emphasized the need for commuter rail, saying it will give greater options for the citizens. Commuter rail would “also play a significant role in the protection of our environment.”
Education is critical for the community, according to Guerrero, because without it, he said citizens will be faced with low wage jobs in retail and fast food that “aren’t providing a livable wage.” In order for San Marcos to attract higher wage businesses in the areas of technology, medicine, and light industry, Guerrero said, “we need to have an educated workforce.” For Guerrero that means putting resources behind people so they graduate from high school, earn an associates degree, go to trade school, or earn a four year college degree. “Until we have that,” Guerrero cautions, “we’re going to be attracting those low paying jobs.”
Environmental protection is also an important issue for Guerrero. He said the city is doing its best “to make sure our water is safe [and that] we have good clean parks.” He said the city also needs to do all that it can to protect the San Marcos River.
If there was one thing Guerrero could have the federal government help San Marcos do, he said it would be for the community to have another hospital. He said due to the growth in population and in the number of new businesses, the city needs a new hospital on the west side of the interstate. He said a new hospital would help in the areas of public health, jobs, education, and “for the needs of our growing and aging community.”
In closing, Guerrero thanked “the citizens of San Marcos for their faith and encouragement and their trust in my abilities.” He noted that his council duties has “been a growing experience” to the point that “I’m a different person today that I was back in 2004” and he is “ready for new changes in his life.”
by Ed Milhalkanin