EDITOR’S NOTE: The San Marcos Mercury asked city council candidates to answer a few questions about their positions on issues. We are publishing them as they come in. The third in this series is from retired police Cmdr. Terry Nichols. He is running against John Thomaides, Toby Hooper and Nicholas Cubides for the Place 3 seat. Early voting started on Monday; Election Day is Nov. 8.
Occupation: Associate Director, Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University where I manage more than $25 million in grant funded training to keep schools and communities safe across the country.
How long have you lived in San Marcos? 24 years
Where in San Marcos do you live? I am a homeowner in the Willow Creek neighborhood. In my 24 years in San Marcos, I have lived in apartments, rental units and single family neighborhoods. Additionally, I have patrolled and served every street in San Marcos and have a unique understanding of the needs of all neighborhoods in our community.
Will you vote to further restrict smoking in public places or put the measure on the ballot for a citywide vote?
I would not support an ordinance limiting the rights of local business owners to conduct their business. Although I do not smoke and I actually avoid restaurants that allow smoking, I do not believe our local government should be engaged in legislating where and when people can smoke in a private business. If our local restaurant and bar owners believe there is a market demand for a non-smoking establishment, they will open one. I would support a non-binding referendum to engage the community and determine a level of interest for future discussions.
There has been a lot of talk this election season about how the city and school district are going to sink or swim together. What specifically can a city council member do to improve the school district and the school district’s image?
With approximately 70% of the students in the SMCISD classified as economically disadvantaged and/or receiving free or reduced price meals, our community is in need of jobs. The council should be aggressively recruiting new job opportunities for all of our citizens.
The council and the school board are currently working very closely together as evidenced by the recent joint workshop. In addition, Superintendent Mark Eads has a great vision for the district and recognizes the need to engage the entire community as it relates to improving our schools. I would encourage and continue the joint workshops and look for additional partnership opportunities.
Finally, one significant thing everyone in our community can do is to stop making negative comments about our schools. Unfortunately we are all guilty of making unflattering comments about the quality of education available in our schools without firsthand knowledge. Undoubtedly our schools could improve in some areas as no school district is perfect. However, spend some time at the High School and visit with the National Honor Society members, members of the award winning debate team, or the countless seniors working on their college applications and you will see that our school district is not the abysmal failure many make it out to be.
The Hays Caldwell Public Utility Agency is locking down a future water supply for San Marcos and surrounding areas but it isn’t going to be cheap. The first phase alone is expected to cost $109 million between now and 2020. Do you support continued funding of HCPUA?
At this point I believe it is in our best interest to continue participation in the HCPUA. Previous councils secured our existing water rights which are reported to be sufficient through 2027. However, we must continue to plan and look forward to ensure future generations have access to adequate water supplies.
I would be hesitant to bet our future water supply on any possible agreements between the San Antonio Water Supply (SAWS) and the LCRA. Although there could be a future opportunity to partner or piggyback on a water supply venture between these two agencies, we cannot gamble our future water supply on this mere possibility.
Do you support forgiving property tax over a set period as a way to encourage companies to relocate or expand in San Marcos? If so, what kind of companies do you support giving economic development incentives to?
I would support the use of property tax abatements and other incentives to help our existing local businesses expand and/or to recruit new businesses into our community. When evaluating proposals for these types of incentives, I would first look at the number and type of jobs created and second, the overall impact on the tax base. As for attracting new businesses, our ultimate goal should be to recruit high paying, low water use companies who share our values and respect our natural resources. Businesses in the healthcare industry as well as information technology/computer companies should be at the top of our list for recruitment.
Police and firefighters won a controversial three-year contract in 2009 and will be back for another round of negotiations next year. What are you willing as a council member to offer them in terms of changes to present deal?
Although I have read both the police and fire contracts from 2009, I am not privy to current discussions from either the city or the respective associations regarding issues important to them for the next contract period. There are many provisions in each of the contracts which are important to the city including hiring procedures, promotions, and the disciplinary process to name a few. However, people generally only want to discuss the monetary provisions of the contracts.
I believe the first contracts have done a good job of setting a foundation for future negotiations. Addressing only the financial aspects of the future contract, I would support future salary increases which are reasonable in our current economic climate and consistent with merit pay/cost of living increases available to all other city employees.
If you weren’t running for city council this year, which of your three opponents would you vote for?
A local community leader recently gave me a quote which I have posted next to my desk. It speaks to my core values, beliefs, and management philosophy:
Hire and promote
First on the basis of integrity;
And last and least, experience.
Without integrity, motivation is dangerous;
Without motivation, capacity is impotent;
Without capacity, understanding is limited;
Without understanding, knowledge is meaningless;
Without knowledge, experience is blind.
Experience is easy to provide and quickly put to use by people with all other qualities.
These attributes are equally, if not more, important in a candidate for public office. I would support a candidate who shares my core values, whose integrity is above reproach, who values honesty and who will not resign midterm if afforded the privilege of being elected to serve our community.Email | Print