San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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June 19th, 2009
Sumter fails county when we need her the most

GUEST COMMENTARY by MAYOR MIKE GONZALEZ

When I was first elected mayor, I received some great advice that has always stayed with me. It was, “always remember that while you may have been elected by some of your citizens, once elected your job is to represent the best interests of all your citizens.”

I think about this as I try to understand why Hays County Judge Liz Sumter seems to repeatedly dismiss, or even undermine, the mobility issues facing our citizens in the eastern portion of Hays County. I thought of this advice again after reading last week’s misleading and politically motivated statements made by Judge Sumter regarding a recent Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) meeting.

Last week, Hays County was successful in securing slightly more than $9 million in federal funding from CAMPO for three road projects in our county. Williamson, Travis and Hays Counties submitted more than $158 million in projects to compete for only $29 million in CAMPO federal funds. Despite Hays County only having three board members on the 20 member CAMPO Board, we were able to secure over 31 percent of the total available funding for our county. I thank my fellow CAMPO board members for thinking regionally and supporting our projects here in Hays County .

As we all know, Hays County, one of the fastest growing counties in Texas, continues to experience significant mobility challenges that have not been addressed or funded.

Unfortunately, rather than working to build on our CAMPO funding success and working together to provide comprehensive safety and mobility solutions for Hays County families, our county judge decided to kick-off a re-election campaign by spreading misinformation and attacking fellow community leaders in a petty attempt to claim full credit for securing the $9 million in funding.

Sumter’s attacks are that much more disappointing because when Hays County needed it most, our Judge chose not to provide true countywide leadership. As county judge, Sumter did not engage local citizens on the Interstate-35 and FM 1626 corridors regarding their mobility needs, did not actively work to build support from other CAMPO board members and entirely missed the critical workshop prior to the meeting where board members advocated for projects.

Yes, the $9 million in federal funding was a success for our county; but we still have a lot of work ahead of us to make our roads safer for Hays County families. Choosing to engage in misleading political attacks will only ensure that the much needed safety improvements to our roads are greatly delayed, or not achieved altogether. Our citizens deserve better. They deserve us working together to serve their needs.

MIKE GONZALEZ is the mayor of Kyle.

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6 thoughts on “Sumter fails county when we need her the most

  1. When I hear the word “mobility” these days tossed around by politicians, I cannot help but think “special-interest-driven road project”.

    When I hear about yet another multi-million dollar bridge or proposal to widen this or that roadway, I tend to look at who owns the property nearby and wonder just how much money had to cross palms for all that new “mobility”.

    If new roads only serve to further the RoundRockitization of Hays County, then I say it is time to step back and view all these big “mobility” projects with some skepticism.

    When small town mayors see new roads, they see new opportunities for growth in their cities, new importance for themselves and the prospect that their small towns will not always be small.

    If this is what they are after, massive migration to their towns and alot of new houses, businesses, schools, taxes and crime, then please be more honest about that. Please just say, “I am tired of living in a backwater, I want my town to be a Big City with lots of McDonald’s and a Chuck E Cheese”, but don’t rail against more moderate politicians whose actions are not dedicated to turning Hays County into Round Rock.

    I don’t know the intricacies of how CAMPO works and how they were convinced to fund so much more “mobility” in Hays County, but there is a vision for this area running rampant along the Interstate that I don’t adhere to and one that we would all do well to take a long look at before it is too late.

  2. I have some news for you django, the growth is already here. I watched your same mindset play out in Austin through the 80s. I suggest you drive around Kyle & Buda in the morning & evening rush hours and put yourself in the place of those homeowners who have to do that every day. Basic infrastructure is the obligation of government and we are letting those folks down.

  3. I am well-aware that these communities are in need of better ways to get to work, school and play, but none of the recent projects does anything to address the need for new ideas about how to accomplish that.

    Building more roads and thereby encouraging more cars to drive on them, using more gas, creating more pollution of both the air and the local waterways cannot possibly be the best solution.

    Designing the new parts of these towns around transit hubs, making possible convenient use of bus systems with park and ride options that are actually workable and eventually a light rail system that does more than just mirror the interstate highway route.

    Using old designs for our new urban areas will cause all the current problems to get worse, not better. New money thrown after old, dying ideas is not a good use of my taxes nor of yours.

    Road companies love to build roads and the more money we spend on roads, the less we have for other kinds of real mobility options. Strip mall developers seem to love to keep shopping centers pedestrian un-friendly. We need more options for a better urban future, not the same tired old road companies steering our development.

    I do not have my head in the sand, I just do not wish to see us continue to spend all our money propping up antiquated ideas and their political cronies.

  4. Mayor Gonzalez, I have a question for you.

    Why didn’t you personally vote for Highway 21?

    Why did you vote for the HERO program instead, a program that only serves Travis County?

    Inquiring minds and all that.

  5. I find that an attack on Major Mike Gonzales to be misplaced. Of all of the leaders that I have met in Hays County he seems to be one of the few visionary ones. While I probably don’t agree with him on many issues, I can tell you that when I speak with him I realize that I am speaking with a leader not only sems who has time for all of us but a keen insight into local issues and seems to understand that not all issues are party driven. In many ways he seems to me to be an ideal future County Judge. I am glad that he does not seem to be in a hurry and is focused on his city. The focus of this story is our current County Judge and her many missteps. While I was proud to support her in the last election I cannot say the same for this one. However thank you for focusing the spot light on a true leader like Mike Gonzalez.

  6. Goodness, gracious, that was hardly an “attack” on anyone.

    I simply asked a relevant question having to do with Mayor Gonzalez’s criticisms. He wrote a personal commentary about how this or that mobility project did or did not get funded and I just wondered why he chose not to support an important project that was in his own area and instead backed a Travis County program.

    The way I see it, if he had ranked SH 21 as one of his top priorities, it might have been funded.

    I’m just sayin’. Not too bright to toss rocks when your own CAMPO behavior might not have been a stellar performance.

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