San Marcos city council candidates Ryan Thomason, left, Shaune Maycock, center and Shane Scott huddle at Tuesday’s city council meeting. Scott later dropped out of the race. Photo by Andy Sevilla.
By ANDY SEVILLA
The filing deadline for San Marcos city council candidacy came and went Wednesday, so did some of the candidates.
Switches, adds and drops characterized a tumultuous last call, which ended in two races each with at least three candidates, something of a rarity by the recent standard in San Marcos.
Two sitting councilmembers, Pam Couch and Fred Terry, ran unopposed for their current terms, while the other four each beat single challengers. San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz won a three-way race to re-election last November.
Wednesday, San Marcos businessman Shane Scott dropped out of the Place 5 race, but only to be replaced by a Texas State student. John Carl Nesselhauf, a 23 year-old political science senior, threw his hat into that ring, bringing the total number of Place 5 candidates to four when Anita Carole Fuller switched races, opting to take on incumbent John Thomaides in Place 6. Thomaides, seeking his third term, now has two challengers, the other being local make-up consultant Monica Garcia.
“This is a positive race,” Scott said, explaining why he withdrew his candidacy. “From what I can tell, there are not too many differences in agendas. If I would have stayed on, there would have been five people running, and that would have caused split votes because of too many candidates. And in a runoff, you waste a lot of money and a lot time, both of which I hate wasting.”
Scott said he is preparing for a future run at city council. He said he’ll spend this year attaining a better understanding of city government, volunteering for city boards and commissions, and ultimately gaining experience to run in 2010. The remaining crowd in this November’s Place 5 field also includes Shaune Maycock and Lisa Marie Coppoletta.
Nesselhauf is a Senator in the Associated Student Government (ASG) at Texas State. He has lived in San Marcos for two years and said he’s noticed strains in town and gown relations.
“I’m trying to get students involved with the city for real,” Nesselhauf said. “I want to bridge the gap between the city and Texas State.”
Nesselhauf said having a student liaison on the council, a position presently held by Texas State student Griffin Taylor, is not enough. Nesselhauf said a student “voting member” is necessary on council.
“I don’t know how prepared I am for this race, but I’m doing a lot of research,” Nesselhauf said. “I plan to use student support to get elected, because they are a part of the city … I plan on living up to my responsibilities if elected.”
Texas State students have gained traction in city politics since the city went to Novemeber council elections in 2005. Councilmember Chris Jones won his first term as a Texas State student that year. In 2006, Texas State student Jude Prather lost to incumbent Gaylord Bose by three votes. Last November, Texas State student Dan McCarthy pulled 19 percent of the vote in a three-way mayoral race.
Nesselhauf said he’s researching the actions and policies of the current council and noted that though he has limited experience, “it doesn’t mean (his opponents) have better ideas.” Nesselhauf said he was very involved in ASG’s opinion on the city’s new noise ordinance, as well as the student liaison committee currently tasked with helping the city curb drunk driving with extended bar hours.
“Anyone, if given the chance, can do something amazing,” Nesselhauf said. “And I want that chance … I really would like to represent the city.”
Michael Ryan Thomason, 31, joined the fight for Place 5 late Tuesday evening and said he’s the candidate most up to speed for the job.
“I think, by far and away, I’m the most prepared person in the race,” Thomason said. “Without being a councilmember, I’m as prepared as can be.”
Thomason is a home builder and a 26-year resident of San Marcos. He has served on the Planning and Zoning (P&Z) commission for three years and is the current vice chair. In 2006, Thomason lost a council bid to Thomaides, who carried 61.6 percent of the vote.
“I have more knowledge now,” Thomason said. “I understand a lot more on the city budget and the technicalities of running a city.”
Thomason said his tenure on the P&Z has served as a “warm-up” on his way to city council, adding that he’s “been preparing for a few years, and this is the year.”
Thomason said his top priority will be ensuring basic city functions, such as infrastructure and law enforcement.
“The basic functions of government are the most important things to focus on,” Thomason said, adding that another concern is attracting jobs.
In order to attract jobs, Thomason said he’s not against financial incentives, “as long as the incentive doesn’t outweigh the benefit of the business.” He specifically mentioned his dissatisfaction with Stone Creek’s $6 million dollar tax abatement and the city’s failure to remove Target’s “no-compete clause” from the Springtown Center before delivering the financial incentive. Thomason also voiced disapproval towards financial incentives proposed earlier this year for the redevelopment of the Springtown Center.
“I’m not a big fan of providing incentives to what’s already here,” Thomason said.
The San Marcos Area Board of Realtors (SMABOR) is scheduled hold a debate for Place 5 and Place 6 candidates on Sept. 8. Thomason is a member of SMABOR, endorsed by the board in his 2006 run against Thomaides. Thomason said he is unaware if he’ll be allowed to participate in the SMABOR debate, though he said “debates are part of an active campaign” and that he “loves debating.” Thomason said SMABOR’s government affairs committee is contacting all candidates for a response regarding Thomason’s potential participation.
Though Thomason is off to a late start in the campaign process, he said Councilmembers Fred Terry and Pam Couch have pledged support. Couch, who holds the Place 5 seat, announced in August she would not seek re-election once her term expired. But she has joined Thomason’s campaign as his treasurer.
“I called her and asked her and she was excited,” Thomason said. “No one has ever done this before, to have the sitting councilmember whose place you’re running for join your team.”
Thomason said he was looking for someone knowledgeable and well acquainted.
“It’s a pretty good endorsement,” he said.
Fuller did not return multiple calls Wednesday. She did not return multiple calls Monday after declining comment Sunday, citing fatigue.
The list of the city council candidates and their treasurers:
– Lisa Marie Coppoletta
Academic advisor at Texas State
Campaign Treasurer: Griffin Spell
– Shaune Christopher Maycock
CEO Blue Skies Aviation
Campaign Treasurer: Christie Neumann
– Michael Ryan Thomason
Campaign Treasurer: Pam Couch
– John Carl Nesselhauf
Student and waiter
Campaign Treasurer: John Carl Nesselhauf
– John Thomaides
Business owner – Alpha Pure Water
Campaign Treasurer: Bibb Underwood
– Monica Garcia
Mary Kay beauty consultant
Campaign Treasurer: LaTonya Henry
– Anita Carole Fuller
Campaign Treasurer: William Krauss