Left to right, San Marcos City Council Place 6 candidates, Anita Fuller, Monica Garcia and John Thomaides. Photos by Andy Sevilla.
By ANDY SEVILLA
Differences emerged between incumbent City Councilmember John Thomaides and his challengers, Monica Garcia and Anita Fuller, at last Thursday’s candidate forum put on by the Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA).
The differences concern the city’s fealty to its development codes, illustrated by the council’s support for zoning changes accommodating the Purgatory Creek Apartments, which Thomaides has opposed in all four votes on the matter this year.
The city council recently extended a deadline for developers to secure state approval for improvements to Hunter Road. The final vote came on Sept. 29, one day before the previous deadline, which now has been extended until next June 30.
Thomaides said he is concerned about developing in the flood plain, downstream flooding due to impervious cover, and traffic implications for Hunter Road.
“We’ve set a precedent with this bad decision,” Thomaides said, who is running for his third term in Place 6.
Fuller and Garcia both said the proposed project will benefit the city.
“(The Purgatory Creek Apartments) is a wonderful project in the city,” said Fuller, a retired civil servant. “…We need more apartment buildings in the city.”
Thomaides said his votes against approving a zoning change from general commercial (GC) to multi-family (MF-18) were based on the “high standards” set in a city-wide collaborative effort to write the city’s development codes.
“We’re gonna grow,” Thomaides said. “It’s inevitable. So why not grow good.”
Fuller and Garcia have called for change in the development codes. Garcia, a beauty consultant, has said the codes are too restrictive, while Fuller, a retired civil servant, said the codes need to be clearer and advocate mixed-used development.
The three candidates gave different goals concerning economic development. Thomaides advocated higher-wage jobs, while Fuller said more emphasis on mixed-use development is needed. Garcia said incoming businesses should cater to San Marcos’ population without neglecting residents with low degrees of education.
The questions came to candidates straight from citizens who lined up for the opportunity. The candidates for each of two city council races answered questions for an hour.
The CONA candidate forum began with the Place 5 race between educator Lisa Marie Coppoletta, aviation business owner Shaune Maycock and homebuilder Ryan Thomason.
Early in the Place 5 forum, the candidates took a question from former city council candidate Jude Prather, who recently returned from a military stint in Iraq. Prather asked the candidates what the council could do for military veterans.
“I can’t give you a specific example of what can be done (for veterans),” Thomason said. “But I do know we can do more.”
Coppoletta said San Marcos can provide veterans with job training, as well as housing grants, much like a city program providing $5,000 forgivable loans to Texas State faculty who buy homes in San Marcos and stay for at least five years. Coppoletta also proposed a veterans’ center to encompass San Marcos, Hays County and Texas State.
Maycock, the only military veteran running in Place 5, said he is “uncomfortable” being congratulated on his veterans’ status because he knew too many who didn’t survive the experience. Maycock mentioned the necessity for a Veteran Administration clinic in San Marcos.
The three candidates came out in favor of SF-6 (single family) zoning, which prohibits habitation of a residence by more than two unrelated persons.
Maycock said more oversight is needed on SF-6 violators, in efforts to keep property values up or at a “healthy level.” Thomason suggested that the city needs different locales appropriated for single family, multi-family, commercial, industrial, and public and institutional land uses, in order to provide a balance for San Marcos. Coppoletta said that although she agrees with the SF-6 code, “blindly” applying it may not work for everyone.
“Neighborhood zoning should be decided through consensus by all property owners in a neighborhood through an open forum … , ” Coppoletta said. “I believe in bottom-up government. A neighborhood association is going to know what works best.”
About economic development, Maycock said it should complement public safety and the preservation of natural resources. Thomason vocalized a need for higher-wage jobs, while Coppoletta emphasized investment in small businesses.
The election for the two city council seats will take place on Nov. 3, with early voting, in person, beginning Oct. 19. The League of Women Voters will hold its candidate debate on Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. at the San Marcos Activity Center.
Left to right, San Marcos City Council Place 5 candidates Lisa Marie Coppoletta, Shaune Maycock and Ryan Thomason.
(Editor’s Note: The above has been revised to indicate that City Council candidate Shaune Maycock was not uncomfortable discussing veterans’ benefits.)