San Marcos City Council Place 5 candidates Ryan Thomason, left, Shaune Maycock, center, and Lisa Marie Coppoletta, right, speak to the San Marcos Downtown Association. Brian Montgomery, president of the Downtown Association, is in the background. Photo provided to Newstreamz by Pat Murdock.
By FRANCES DUGAS
The San Marcos Downtown Association conducted a forum of city council candidates last week at The Tap Room hoping to gauge each contender’s commitment to the city core.
Thus, the candidates focused on downtown development, including specifics like parking, signage and exposed power lines. All the candidates, except Lisa Marie Coppoletta, overtly supported the downtown master plan.
The six candidates spoke for more than an hour in The Tap Room’s meeting room, located between The Coffee Pot and The Tap Room on the downtown square.
Councilmember John Thomaides is the only incumbent in the mix, fighting for a return to his Place 6 seat against challenges from beauty consultant Monica Garcia and retired civil servant Anita Fuller. Place 5, in which Pam Couch declined to seek re-election, pits Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commissioner Ryan Thomason against local businessman Shaune Maycock and educator Lisa Marie Coppoletta.
Candidates had three minutes for opening statements, then answered written questions submitted by the crowd of about two dozen.
Coppoletta fired the toughest shots at the present order of city business, criticizing the city council for spending more than $500,000 to help with promotion for the outlet malls.
“We’re funding to the tune of $500,000 outlet mall abatements at the expense of our downtown economy,” said Coppoletta. “The focus should be on small businesses in the core of the downtown.”
Maycock and Thomason both spoke in favor of the downtown master plan and downtown redevelopment. Maycock talked about beautification beyond the courthouse square and incentives that would bring breadwinner jobs to San Marcos.
Thomason, who grew up in San Marcos, said the city needs a return to its hometown feel of the mid-1990s. Sticking with his message that his experience on the P&Z makes him the most qualified candidate, Thomason said he already has helped to make a difference downtown.
“We are sitting in one of them right now,” Thomason said. “This room came to us about a year and a half ago. I supported the change in the land development code that made the Wine Cellar possible (at Hopkins Street and LBJ Drive).”
All three Place 6 candidates spoke in favor of the downtown master plan, which the city approved early in 2008.
Thomaides said the plan should be implemented through the establishment of tax increment programs, form-based codes and initiatives to make downtown more pedestrian friendly. Thomaides also addressed the city’s recent attempt to incentivize the re-development of Springtown Center with businesses that would compete with downtown bars and restaurants, which a peeve of many downtown business owners.
“I did lead the efforts in opposition to the proposed Springtown loan,” said Thomaides, “but I do believe that will probably come back. It’s an important issue and something we’ll probably have to deal with in the future, but what they gave us just wasn’t good enough.”
Garcia discussed development as it relates to families and incomes.
“There’s a need all over,” she said. “Part of what I want is to insure there’s an opportunity for everyone to succeed by creating sustainable growth. We are as strong as our weakest link.”
Fuller talked of implementing the downtown master plan and redeveloping San Marcos as a cultural center.
“Our downtown area is positioned to become the entertainment and culture base destination center for the greater Austin-San Antonio metropolitan area and should be developed to attract a mix of users,” Fuller said.
The evening’s amusement consisted in the following question for each candidate: If the city council were to meet on your birthday and promise to pass one piece of legislation at your pleasure, what would you choose?
After joking that she’d like a trip to Paris, Coppoletta said she’d like for San Marcos to be a Parisian-style, pedestrian-friendly city. Thomason would use excess money from projects to help fund Habitat for Humanity and local food banks. Fuller said she would like for LBJ Drive and Guadalupe Street to run two-ways downtown.
Under the influence of six years on the city council, Thomaides went for “boring but important” measures, such as allowing councilmembers to place items directly on the agenda (only the mayor can do that) and limiting the council’s executive session topics to those specifically described under the local government code.
Maycock said he would cap campaign contributions to prevent “undue influence over our city council members. Our community will grow only once. It is crucial that we get it right.”Email | Print