Kyle Mayoral candidates Michelle Lopez, left, and Lucy Johnson, right, at a recent Kyle City Council meeting. Photo by Lance Duncan.
By LANCE DUNCAN
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 They’re in different newspapers every month, sometimes they are not posted to our website, and the website is out of date.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.Email | Print