Dan McCarthy, a 2008 mayoral candidate in San Marcos and a Texas State student, shows his support from his unicycle soapbox. Photos by Andy Sevilla.
By ANDY SEVILLA
When San Marcos moved its city council elections to November in 2005, local politicos figured Texas State students would become a local political factor as never before.
This year’s San Marcos City Council candidates obviously think so. Candidates for both contested city council seats showed up on campus Wednesday and Thursday as early voting for the Nov. 3 election took place.
All three candidates for Place 5 — academic advisor Lisa Marie Coppoletta, small business owner Shaune Maycock and homebuilder Ryan Thomason — set up shop in the mall area leading to the polling place at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Student Center.
Place 6 incumbent John Thomaides and a challenger, beauty consultant Monica Garcia, also operated from the mall. Another Place 6 challenger, retired civil servant Anita Fuller, was not present on campus on either day, nor did she place any political signage near the early voting vicinity.
Candidates greeted students on campus, listened to their concerns, and answered questions while providing them with food, candy, fruit, and political advertisements in the hopes of gaining their votes.
“The ones (students) I’ve had a chance to talk to had some concerns,” Maycock said. “Their main issues seem to be with law enforcement, and not so much with bike lanes and green spaces.”
Maycock said students have expressed discontent with the newly updated noise ordinance. He said students want an explicit method for defining infractions of the law, so police would have less discretion in making those calls.
San Marcos legislators have in recent years attempted to improve town and gown relations with the inception of what the city has called “an award winning” program known as Achieve Community Together (ACT). The city also has petitioning opinions from the university’s Associated Student Government (ASG) on public policies and initiated community service events such as Bobcat Build and Pack it up and Pass it on.
All candidates expressed appreciation for the receptive crowd at Texas State, leaving no registered voter unsolicited. The tiniest margins have decided recent city elections. In 2006, incumbent Councilmember Gaylord Bose held off Texas State student Jude Prather by only three votes. San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz avoided a run-off election against challenger Dave Newman last November by only nine votes.
“Students that are registered to vote in San Marcos are very receptive and involved in the political process,” Thomaides said. “There’s just not that many.”
Said Garcia, “I think that when students decide to do something, there can be a movement,” adding that not one vote can be “counted out.”
Coppoletta said her history with the university makes her “the most qualified candidate in addressing issues at Texas State.” Touting her experience with the school as an academic adviser, a faculty member, and a recipient of two degrees, Coppoletta said she is “the voice for the students,” adding that she has received “overwhelming support” from Bobcats.
“It hasn’t been too bad out here,” Garcia said. “From those (students) that I’ve talked to, I’ve gotten a positive response.”
Texas State students had a strong showing at the candidate public forum hosted by the Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA) on Oct. 1 at the San Marcos Activity Center. Though several students said they were present at the forum because they were promised extra-credit on their academics, some made their way to the podium, expressed concerns, and asked direct questions to the candidates.
Early voting began on Oct. 19 and will run through Oct. 30. Early voting in San Marcos is available at the Hays County Elections Office, 401-C Broadway, and at the San Marcos Library, 625 East Hopkins Street. Voters who do not take advantage of early voting must vote at their designated Election Day polling places between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Nov. 3.
Almost every San Marcos City Council candidate set up shop on Texas State’s mall this week.