When Kyle Mayor Mike Gonzalez, left, announced his run for Hays County Commissioner, he started a change of events that stands to transform the Kyle City Council between Saturday’s special election and the general election in May. Financial consultant Bradley Pickett, right, has already announced his run in May for the seat being vacated by Councilmember David Salazar.
As Kyle political initiates await the outcome of Saturday’s loaded special city council election, the dominoes already are starting to fall for the general election involving two council seats scheduled for May 8.
Kyle Councilmember David Salazar, whose Place 3 seat represents the city at-large, has decided to pack it in after two terms. Financial consultant Bradley Pickett, recently named to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) has already announced that he will run for the seat.
“I’m giving myself a term limit,” Salazar said. “I’m thinking that two terms is plenty. Six years is a while. There are plenty of people who want to do more for the community, and I couldn’t stand in their way.”
One other seat is up for election in May, but that race won’t begin to shape up until after Saturday’s election, which includes a mayoral contest between two sitting councilmembers — Michelle Lopez of Place 1 and Lucy Johnson of Place 5. Both places represent the city at-large.
Both councilmembers have technically resigned their positions, though they will remain seated until their replacements are chosen. Johnson’s seat will be filled in Saturday’s election between four contenders. Lopez’s seat will be filled in the May election, which is when her term was scheduled to expire. Even if Lopez loses the mayoral election Saturday, she will remain on the council until May, and she could stay on if she wins a May election. No candidates, including Lopez, have announced that they will run for Lopez’s seat in the May election.
Hays County Elections Administrator Joyce Cowan said 483 voters cast early ballots in Kyle — 479 in person and four by mail. With a young population of approximately 27,000, Kyle has about 12,000 registered voters. Cowan said it’s unlikely the Kyle vote will reach ten percent.
The four candidates for Johnson’s Place 5 seat, which represents the city at-large, are Kyle firefighter Mike Fulton, artist Jon Claeton, Hometown Kyle resident John Simmang and long-time Kyle resident Jaime Sanchez, who won a lawsuit against the city concerning a piece of downtown property in 2008.
The other Kyle city council election pits Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commissioner Rhonda Cox against local banker Russ Huebner for Place 6, which represents the eastern portions of the city. The seat came open when Councilmember Ray Bryant announced his run for Hays County Precinct 2 commissioner as a Democrat. Bryant is unopposed in the March 2 primary.
The mayor’s seat came open when Mayor Mike Gonzalez announced his run for Precinct 2 commissioner as a Republican. Gonzalez is opposed by Hays CISD Trustee Mark Jones in the March 2 primary.
Pickett has lived in Kyle for four years after receiving his masters of business administration (MBA) in finance in 2003. He has worked for four Fortune 500 companies in his 20 years of experience with various financial management roles.
Pickett said the city’s indebtedness of $73 million could have been at least reduced by utilizing different financial approaches before borrowing. The city has borrowed in the last eight years for more than a dozen big ticket items, including the construction of Kyle Parkway, a new city hall, an east side fire station, a re-alignment of SH 150, infrastructure improvements to facilitate the Seton Hospital development and projects for the original part of town such as downtown streetscaping and sewage upgrades.
To pay debt service, the city has raised its property tax rate more than 50 percent in the last two years, from 27.07 cents to 42.4 cents per $100 of taxable value. Of that 42.4-cent tax rate on the current budget, 24.1 cents goes towards debt service. In the last two years, the maintenance and operations (M&O) side of the city’s tax rate has increased from 15.07 cents to 18.3 cents, while the interest and sinking (I&S) side has increased from 12 cents to 24.1 cents.
“We are at that critical moment in our city’s development; with a slowing local economy, borrowing that is out of control, spiraling property taxes, and a need for infrastructure spending,” Pickett said. “We must be diligent about long-term planning in how we approach the future.”Email | Print