San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

January 28th, 2010
Part II: Kyle mayoral candidates Johnson and Lopez

012810lopezjohnsonKyle Mayoral candidates Michelle Lopez, left, and Lucy Johnson, right, at a recent Kyle City Council meeting. Photo by Lance Duncan.

By LANCE DUNCAN
News Reporter

The San Marcos Local News recently sat down separately with the two mayoral candidates, Lucy Johnson and Michelle Lopez, to highlight the differences between them and give them an opportunity to discuss why they are running for the office and what they want to accomplish if they win.

Both of the candidates currently serve on the Kyle City Council and are frequently outspoken on important issues. Lopez has been a councilmember since 2007, and Johnson since 2008.This is the second installment of our interviews with the two candidates.

Early voting began Wednesday. Election Day is Feb. 13.

San Marcos Local News: What kind of initiatives would you take to bring more Kyle citizens into the political process, specifically young families?

Michelle Lopez: I want to continue my council chats, and implement more technology to allow families who can’t attend a meeting or a chat to participate. I think that maybe we should have more opportunities during our community events to have a City of Kyle table, with a councilmember or a staff member to take feedback on a regular basis. I would like for us to try to look at ways to go ahead and purchase the equipment which we need to install, such as cameras in the council chambers so we can begin to broadcast our meetings. I do believe that if we’re going to really engage families, particularly with younger children, we can look at creating partnerships with the local school district and community groups, to see that we’re getting our information out.

Lucy Johnson: I don’t think there is enough public involvement in the local council meetings and in public planning. I believe that’s because we haven’t done a good enough job in communicating and using customer service to reach out to our citizens. I think there is a disconnection between the average Kyle resident and City Hall, because City Hall actually makes it hard for citizens to come and reach out to both the city council and to staff. It’s very hard to get someone on the phone when you call City Hall, and public postings are not easily found by the public. They’re in different newspapers every month, sometimes they are not posted to our website, and the website is out of date. We don’t make enough of an effort to reach out to our citizens and to make it easy for them to reach out to us. I think there are lot of people who want to get involved in Kyle, but don’t know how.

SMLN: How do you feel about the county judge’s recent suggestion that it might be wise to hold our on issuing the remaining available debt for road projects? What is at stake for Kyle in this situation?

Lucy Johnson: The (November 2008, $207 million) road bond has been immensely important to Kyle’s growth and to the safety of our residents, especially those who are commuters into Austin and San Marcos. The overpass that we are replacing is one of the worst I-35 overpasses in the state of Texas. Work has already begun on the construction of the new bridge, and it would be ridiculous to delay funding now. Work has also started on new frontage roads in Kyle, and one of the most hazardous points of driving in and around Kyle is on the two-way frontage roads and the dangerous entry and exit ramps, in which commuters have to deal with oncoming traffic. The road bond package was already approved by voters in 2008. We need to make sure these improvements happen as soon as possible because accidents happen on these roads every month. If (Hays County Judge Liz) Sumter wants to delay funding for this because of budgetary concerns, I am holding our judge responsible for those accidents.

Michelle Lopez: It would concern me if our road project is in jeopardy, because it is essential to the mobility within our city. This project will also help increase potential economic development projects. I would hope that we could find ways to ensure that the project continues, so that we can fulfill the desires of the community members who voted for the road bonds.

SMLN: What is the biggest challenge facing Kyle?

Michelle Lopez: I think our biggest challenge is setting our priorities for the next 20 to 30 years. We need to engage our citizens and ensure that they are actively participating, so that when we make decisions they aren’t made in a vacuum. For example, we need to determine how we will complete our economic development strategic plan to bring more construction companies or manufacturing companies into Kyle. And city council will need to be creative in forming partnerships with other entities that can help us achieve our goals with the city, the region and even the state.

Lucy Johnson: It is probably managing our growth without incurring significant debt. There are so many improvements we could make to this city to improve the lives of our citizens. Maintaining and expanding our roads to meet the needs of growth and limiting congestion has been a huge challenge. We need to balance the needs of our growing city with reducing our burden of debt on taxpayers.

SMLN: Tell us your compelling vision of the future for Kyle.

Lucy Johnson: I want to see a healthy and vibrant business community in Kyle. I want to expand our commercial businesses. I want us to expand our tax base. I want to keep Kyle an affordable place to live. I grew up in a rural community and got to enjoy the rivers and streams and open spaces that make Hays County and Kyle such a beautiful place to live and grow up in. I want to make sure that those streams and open fields and rivers and beautiful vistas are going to be around for Kyle citizens to enjoy in the future. I want Kyle citizens to know that this city can remain a great place to live, work and raise their families in.

Michelle Lopez: When I think of the future of Kyle, I see a billboard that says “Destination: Kyle,” because everyone is wanting to join our community or come visit Kyle to find out why Kyle is so unique. When they arrive, they find it’s a community that’s composed of diverse families, of people who have a chance to work here in our vibrant economy, enjoy their free time with friends participating in outdoor sports activities or attending concerts, plays, and a regular poetry reading at the library. With all of these new and cultural activities happening, we continue to honor the heritage of our city through the train depot museum and the historical landmarks that we’ve continued to preserve for our city. For every resident, Kyle is a point of pride and is home.

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0 thoughts on “Part II: Kyle mayoral candidates Johnson and Lopez

  1. Vince Collier asked the candidates to comment on ACC. I am strongly in support of an ACC Campus in Hays County and I will be voting for the inclusion of the HCISD area into the ACC District. I have already signed the petition to get this initiative on the ballot for November along with hundreds of my fellow citizens.

    Education is far and away the best and most proven way to decrease poverty, improve quality of life, and raise income levels within a community. And unlike some colleges, where admittance is difficult and tuition is high, ACC serves the ENTIRE community. The establishment of an ACC campus will bring hundreds of well-paying jobs into our community, and it will create the opportunity for people to work in areas such as the medical fields at Seton, CTMC and area medical offices.

    An ACC Campus in Kyle would be a marvelous and welcome addition to our city. Higher education is so important to our citizens that I would even support a campus being chosen at an adjacent city lucky enough to get it – although I am still keeping my fingers crossed for Kyle.

  2. I’ve heard ACC has narrowed it down to 3 locations (1626 Next to the PAC, 1626 East of IH35 past Steton and East of IH35 in Buda) Now this is just coffee talk and it may be located somewhere else but anyone one of those locations would work for me.

  3. Lucy,

    See any signatures of dead people on the petition? Hope the final petition with signatures is posted on the web so people who didn’t sign the petition but whose names appear on the petition can be aware.

    Almost half of the signatures on the San Marcos ACC petition four years ago were forged. Not to worry though. No one got into trouble for that election fraud. That’s the way it is in Hays County.

  4. Charles, do you own property within Hays CISD boundaries or live within these boundaries? This is a different effort lead by honest people that had nothing to do with any other ACC effort. Move on and stop trying to tear others down. I am sure the final records will be public record for you and others view. ACC is an incredible value and has opened doors of educational opportunity for many folks.

  5. ACC is one of the best kept secrets in Texas. My daughter went there for 2 semesters to get her undergrad basics.
    She had small classes and great professors (most also taught at UT) -all at a fraction of the cost of TSU or UT. She now attends a small private college in Arizona, and the college accepted 19 of her ACC credits. I thought this was pretty good since the credits came from an “out-of-state” commmunity college. I believe that if surrounding communities invested in ACC, they would be providing affordable higher education opportunities for their young adults. It’s hard to go wrong with that…

  6. Armydad,

    Moving on is what you want to do so long as lessons are learned. My wife took classes at ACC and came away well satisfied. My comment had nothing to do with the quality or economy of an ACC education. It raised a flag about how the electoral process was violated in Hays County by ACC hired personnel. ACC administration wants to expand its tax base and there is a lawful process to follow ensuring that local taxpayers have a voice in the decision of whether to be taxed.

    We know from experience how that process was seriously violated in the San Marcos debacle involving local developer Randall Morris and Patrick Rose campaign manager and lobbyist Mark Littlefield. ACC has moved on to the HCISD because the ACC name is now tainted in San Marcos.

    Folks believed the San Marcos effort was being led by honest people, but they were wrong. I want to assume honest people are involved in the current HCISD effort, but there is no need to assume if the process is kept transparent to a watchful public.

    Keeping a public process transparent helps to deter violations. But transparency also requires public vigilance. Lack of public attention in public matters leads to waste and fraud for which we all pay. Reminding others about the underbelly of such waste and fraud is neither pleasant nor easy, but it is necessary if past mistakes are to be avoided.

    I encourage you and others to not limit your vision only to what you expect in the end, but also to the intervening process that ensures a fair, responsible and democratic outcome for the community.

  7. I am the Co-Chair of the steering committee driving the ACC initiative in North Hays County. I applaude Ms. Johnson for being willing to publicaly go on record in support of this exciting process.

    The San Marcos petition drives failure was not due to any “ACC hired personel”. The Steering Committe for San Marcos was responsible for hiring the folks who committed the fraud. ACC encouraged the Committe to use The Friends of ACC (a PAC formed to support communities in this effort) in the signature validation process and the Committe elected to hire it’s own people to validate the signatures which led to the alleged fraud. One of the first decisions we made in the ACC process here in Hays CISD was to take every step to avoid the pitfalls that ensnared San Marcos, including, using the Friends of ACC to validate all the petition signatures. I assure you every signature will be validated and open to public review. We are making every effort to ensure the process is succesful and legal.

  8. O’Dell you are such a bozo with your conspiracy theories!! How did you ever get a Ph.D. (assuming it isn’t the mail order type, which is more likely considering your many ridiculous posts). The problem in San Marcos came down to the stupid decision of TWO people—paid political consultants—who unbeknownst to anyone else involved decided to forge some signatures. In fact (as can be verified by the records!) there were more than enough signatures to pass the ACC election here, even without the fake ones. And the two people who broke the law had to deal with the District Attorney’s office over the matter. Sorry if the facts ruin your latest conspiracy theory. Say, do you think that perhaps Santa Claus is responsible for the heavy rain this year??

  9. Just two days ago I saw an architectural model for the proposed SAN MARCOS campus of ACC. It is in the San Marcos library, and one of the librarians said that they had heard a site out near the SM high school was a possibility.

    Does anyone know how this fits with this article? in other words, is San Marcos really out of the running for a campus? (That would be a shame!)

  10. No worries cori! 🙂 San Marcos is very much in the running for the same election time as Hays. I am meeting with their Steering Committee next week to help them get fired up. So watch for the petitions!

  11. Cori, San Marcos is NOT out of the running for a campus. For those who attended the Kyle Chamber luncheon last week, you heard the Pres/CEO of ACC, Dr. Kinslow, SPECIFICALLY state that there are ACC plans to build one campus in the Kyle-Buda area to serve the northern portion of the county & relieve congestion at the south Austin campus, AND to build a campus in SAN MARCOS (off hwy 123 where the land was donated for this) to serve the southern end of Hays County. There are currently almost 800 San Marcos students who will see their tuition costs drop from $137 per credit hour to just $39 per credit hour once the election passes here. And what that means for ALL residents is a better economy as people can receive an education or train for new jobs at much lower costs!! (no doubt the doomsday people will spread false lies about the proposal or its implications, as they live out their negative lives and try to infect others who want a positive future for their children and our community).

  12. Well, I guess we know where Adam falls on the ACC issue. Seriously, man – calling those with different beliefs on a topic like this names isn’t the way to promote your point of view.

    Personally, I am against any proposed inclusion of Hays county or San Marcos in particular in the ACC taxing jurisdictions. I just don’t see any potential for ROI from those tax dollars, and the citizens of Hays County are already overtaxed. Austin is just 25 miles away, and anyone who wants to go there can certainly manage that sort of drive. Of the 800 students at SMHS, (a) how many currently matriculate to ACC and (b) what would those numbers be if the expansion occurred? I doubt the savings to the few students affected would be worth taxing everyone in San Marcos over it.

  13. Dano, as of 2006, there were 34,723 adults in Hays county with no college credential. The BLS tells us that 90% of the fastest growing jobs by 2012 will require some kind of college education. I think that we can agree that a substantial number of those adults with no college credential come from among the 12.6% of our population which is living in poverty. For those folks, the 50 mile round trip to austin is a very big barrier. I work with students who are earning their GED for the purpose of enrolling in college. They often have famillies with young children and either no car of their own, or they’re sharing a car with a spouse or other family member. Those who do have cars often have to prioritize between using their gas money to get to work, or using it to get to school. I think having local access to a community college is essential for these people to move themselves out of poverty and encourage their children to set high educational goals for themselves.

  14. Perhaps Dano you should take the time to READ what Adam said….he DIDN’T say there were 800 students at SMHS, what he said was there are just under 800 San Marcos students now enrolled in ACC classes….let me break it down for you: that means 800 residents of San Marcos who have graduated from high school and are taking ACC classes… so to answer your question, there are 800 matriculating at ACC now … and they are paying a far higher tuition than they would if we were part of ACC (as Adam pointed out). As for ROI, well, just look at the history…community colleges are one of the greatest tax investments around because they increase the earning potential of all reasidents and draw new businesses who can get people retrained quickly and inexpensively. But you can ignore the facts if you wish.

  15. 800 students taking on average around 12 hours per year would save a total of $940k between them. How much would the citizens of San Marcos pay per year combined in increased taxes? I am willing to bet it is more than $940k. Then of course, you are also shifting the burden to pay from the 800 students to the community at -large. For some, community college is a great jumping off point and they save a lot over a four year college, but since it is to their benefit, they could continue to pay for it themselves.

  16. BINGO, John. I’m all for giving people a fair chance, but there is already far too much “spreading the cost” going on by our government. I would rather see the kids who go to ACC (you know, the ones actually getting the benefit) continue to pay higher tuition than to have “everyone” pay extra taxes so they can get their education cheaper. The belief that it is somehow society’s responsibility to provide a college education for everyone is beyond my belief structure.

    I would also like to see some proof of the claims that “community colleges are one of the greatest tax investments around”. Cite a study, cite some hard numbers. Cite some of the “facts” that you claim I am ignoring – which is tough to do because you haven’t posted any facts.

    Until then, I will choose to believe the evidence that my eyes show me when I look at towns that house community colleges. How are the cities of Wharton, Brenham, or Cisco doing these days, anyway? I see no proof that having a local community (Jr) college has benefitted these cities in the slightest.

  17. Kelly,

    Do you think that making me pay higher taxes will ensure that those 34,723 non-credentialed adults in Hays County will suddenly go get a degree?

    If so, I have a bridge to sell you.

    People who WANT to get an education will do so. Maybe they have to sign up for the military for a few years to get the GI Bill. Maybe they have to run up a mountain of student loan debt to do so. But those who want to go find a way….and they can do it without more taxpayer money to do so. It just depends on how badly they want it.

  18. Dano and John, aren’t you lucky that the generations before you were willing to pay local tax’s so you could get an education….too bad that you are now selfish and not wanting to help future generations have a better life.

  19. Henry, it isn’t so simple. Opposing such a new tax doesn’t make one selfish and isn’t a slight on future generations, and throwing labels and calling names isn’t going to win you many arguments. I am not trying to pull the ladder up behind me; instead I willingly pay property taxes for local public schools in two counties, Texas public universities and income taxes that go to federal student aid for all post-secondary students. Meanwhile, I repay my own student loans from the private law school I attended and pay private tuition for my children’s education. Those who wish to tax San Marcos citizens for ACC’s use want everyone to pay one more entity in the name of education. Eventually, enough is enough.

    Anyone who achieves in a Texas high school and desires to attend school may do so right now, and such a person will only pay a small portion of the total costs of their education. Who would the ACC tax district help get a better life (your words), and how is that person denied such a life right now? I say, very few. Most of those who would benefit are those who attend ACC simultaneously with a 4-year school who would realize a cost savings by passing the costs onto the taxpayer. Another set of students who did not achieve in high school or who only marginally desire to attend school might attend ACC because it is cheaper, but I am not willing to concede that such students will be better off for having some college credit. The fact that many stuck in poverty lack any college education does not mean that lack of education is what caused their poverty. Instead, both the poverty and the achievement struggles have common causes — society leaves some behind. That is not okay, and we need to help those left behind as a community, but sending some to ACC is a diversion of time an money from the search for real solutions.

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