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

EDITOR’S NOTE: The San Marcos Mercury asked city council candidates to answer a few questions about their positions on issues. Today, Place 5 council member Ryan Thomason and his write-in challenger, Melissa Derrick, take our questions. Election Day is Nov. 6.

Derrick

Melissa Derrick, 45



Occupation/employer: Administrative Assistant III at Texas State University; self-employed as a certified Life Coach

How long have you lived in San Marcos?
The better part of the last 26 years

Where in San Marcos do you live?
Franklin Square


San Marcos Mercury: The city’s Capital Improvements Program has identified tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure investments that city officials say need to be made in coming years. Many of these projects are underway but every year many more are deferred for lack of money. Do you have anything concrete to offer in terms of special skills or ideas that will help the city identify more funding so streets and public works projects can be completed sooner?

Melissa Derrick: I have 17 years experience in monitoring large state and federal budgets, while following strict guidelines such as the city must follow. One of my primary responsibilities is to keep these budgets balanced and report to my Director the amount of funds we have to spend in each account vs. the amount we would like to spend. I have expertise in encumbering funds which are known costs that must be spent and analyzing what is left over for special projects that need to be pursued in order of urgency.

In addition I have experience in finding a grant that fits a need, filing grant proposals and monitoring them for compliance. I feel our city would qualify for existing “calls for proposals” from state or federal funding agencies that should be explored.

Mercury: You are sharing the ballot with a nonbinding referendum on whether the city should step in to buy property along the San Marcos River known locally as Cape’s Camp. At the same time, a developer is proposing an apartment complex that would include giving 20 acres of riverfront property to the city for a park. Do you think the city should buy Cape’s Camp and adjoining property upfront or take the developer’s donation offer?

Derrick: The best and highest use for this land is to preserve it in its entirety as the last pristine piece of river front property in San Marcos. In July of 2011 New Braunfels reported a population of 59,590 citizens and posses 196 acres of river park land for a total of 304 citizens per acre of river park land. San Marcos just recalculated its population at 66,000 and has 70 acres of river park area, leaving us with a total of 942 citizens per acre of river park land.

Park crowding has been a huge topic, and the only way to alleviate that crowding and prepare for the growth that is surely coming our way, is to increase parkland. Building dwellings in a flood plain is also short sighted. Adding a 1,000 bedroom apartment complex that will increase the adjacent neighborhood’s chance for flooding is putting too many citizens at risk.

Mercury: This year, the San Marcos City Council voted to outlaw the display or consumption of alcohol in any city-owned park, including those along the San Marcos River. The alcohol ban goes into effect Jan. 1. New park rules approved by the city council also increase littering fines and ban tobacco, Styrofoam and spear fishing. Did the council get the new rules package right? Please explain your answer.

Derrick: I fully support all the new rules in the package, with the exception of the “beer ban”. I agree with some of the council members who expressed distaste for that portion of the package. Many people celebrate holidays, birthdays, graduations and just a beautiful day at our river parks. For most, these celebrations include BBQ, a couple of cold beers, and swimming in the river. A San Marcos tradition was killed with this package, and I’m a firm believer in individual rights.

I believe there should be a place on the river for everyone. A place for families with no drinking and no smoking, and place for those who would like to have those personal freedoms while enjoying our beautiful river. Many are disappointed that Rio Vista is over-run with a large group of citizens who drink to the point of being dangerous or just obnoxious. With all the money spent on Rio Vista, I can certainly understand this, yet still there has to be a way for the parks to cater to everyone in the city and those that come to visit.

Mercury Will you vote to further restrict smoking in public places or put the measure on the ballot for a citywide vote?

Derrick: My answer would depend upon the restrictions. The smoking ban in children’s parks and athletic fields was an example of a good restriction. Telling a business owner what they can and can’t do in their own place of business is not something I could get behind. If a bar or restaurant owner wishes to allow their paying patrons to smoke inside, I believe that is entirely their decision to make and not the city’s. If enough patrons complain and ask for non-smoking, a business owner would need to provide that to keep their clientele and to stay in business.

Mercury: Under current law, the city can issue only about a dozen conditional use permits to operate a bar in the Central Business District. All the allotted permits were claimed years ago. The current system does allow entrepreneurs to serve alcohol at restaurants but the legal definition of “restaurant” has been in a constant state of flux under city law for the last decade. Do you support changes to the city’s CUP system for bars? If so, what changes do you suggest? If not, please explain why you think the current ordinance is good policy?

Derrick: I have no issue with the current CUP system for bars, but should it be challenged by small business owners who wish to open a bar, I’d be willing to entertain the idea. The fact is there are too many empty buildings downtown and small clothing and specialty stores are constantly going out of business. We don’t currently have the funding to increase our police and fire fighters proportionally with the growth of our population. If we are unable to reap the sales tax for our city’s budget that we so desperately need, then desperate times will call for desperate measures. Money will need to be made somewhere other than rezoning for apartment complexes.

Mercury: 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?

Derrick: That would depend upon the circumstances. For instance, if Advance Micro Devices wanted to expand in San Marcos, I feel they have more than enough money to make this decision without economic incentive. However, if that is the only way we could get them here, then that’s what the city should do as it would mean jobs and business related taxes.

I am fully in favor of offering incentives to smaller companies that would really need the incentives to expand or move to San Marcos. I would be most interested in offering incentives to the start-up technology companies that will be recruited by the STAR Park. Since we are so close to the technology hub that is Austin, it would be to our advantage to help these businesses thrive as an incentive for other technology related industry to come to San Marcos.


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26 thoughts on “Q&A: Melissa Derrick on the issues

  1. This choice is going tobe a hard one. I saw both Ryan Thimason and Melissa Derrick at the Oak Heights neighborhood meeting. They were both impresive.

  2. To me the decision isn’t difficult at all. Between Melissa’s opposition to beneficial development projects around town and her support for the needlessly costly proposal to have the City purchase Cape’s property, she won’t be getting my vote.

    I’ll give her this though – she’s put her heart into a write in campaign – not an easy chore. Respect for that, but her ideas of what is good for San Marcos are far too different from mine for her to earn my vote, no matter how much I admire her pluck.

  3. Melissa’s advocacy is aligned with life long residents who love this community. Thank you Ms. Derrick for standing up when most others just throw arguments over the bow on newstreams! You are the talk of the town and people are saying wonderful things!!!!

  4. well dano, I believe you’ve mentioned before that you don’t live in the city limits….so maybe all your noise is just that.

  5. Like MD’s effort…But Thomason represents practical experience in dailey dealings of a complex economy. Let’s protect SMTX!!!

  6. She’s got my vote. What an intelligent and thoughtful approach to help turn our town into a viable place to live and raise a family. I have never had the feeling that Ryan Thomason cares about neighborhoods except his own.

  7. It’s true that my house is just outside the city limits (by less than a mile). But I own a business and multiple rental properties that are in the City Limits, so even though a line on a map says I can’t vote, I’m sufficiently invested in San Marcos to have a say in whatever way I can.

  8. “invested” operative term

    Vote Melissa Derrick, she has no personal financial interests. She is invested in what is best for our community! We need to preserve the natural environment here for future generations and have respect for archeologically sensitive areas. For me writing Melissa’s name is the CLEAR choice.

    Ryan Thomason had barrels outside for months at the old phone company. Its pretty sad when citizens have to call TCEQ to get them removed.

  9. Why does it always have to be negative LMC? And why do all your stories picture you in the role of hero?

    I am happy that there are two serious candidates for this position on council with a very different vision for San Marcos. I will vote for Ryan because “not here, not now, not ever” does not align with my own view, we do not need to pay for something we can have for free, and I worry that Melissa Derrick will end up voting like some of her louder supporters on unknowable future issues. Still, two serious candidates is a refreshing change from past races and hopefully a sign of things to come.

  10. Why do those that support development never use their own names “skeptical” and imbue their posts with personal attacks? I’d like to know why the firemarshall was called on me after i reported Ryan’s barrels to TCEQ? Little odd behavior for an elected official…the timing was impeccable. Thanks to the city manger for stepping in.

  11. LMC, thanks for reminding us of your valiant efforts with those barrels. I had almost forgotten as it has been several days since you brought it up.

  12. The kind of developement Ryan Thomason and his handlers ( Reality Interest/Multifamily Developers/ Bar Owners) wants for San MArcos will be a continuation of needless degradation of our natural resources, neighborhoods, and quality of life. When I started closely observing al the players in the city politic, one pawn stood out clearly, Ryan Thomason, and the puppet masters that guide his decisions. This time has now ended after over 20 years of greed driven policies and ideals, it is now time for the citizens of San Marcos to look to the future of those that will follow in our paths, the children that will someday call San Marcos home, and love it as Melissa does, with a pure heart and soul, unaffected by power, greed, and profit margins! Change is in the wind, a welcome respite from the pain of past disenfranchisement! JLB 🙂

  13. So what it boils down to, LMC, is that you value your “investment” in San Marcos more then you do those of others.

    Never mind that I contribute more to the City coffers in taxes than you do each year from my “investments”.

    Never mind that I provide jobs for several of the citizens of San Marcos.

    Never mind that I have chosen to make San Marcos home for my family and my business.

    All that matters is that you get to keep making noise about how much you hate everything about development in San Marcos and that you get to keep making your nuisance calls to the authorities every time you get your nose crooked about someone else’s business.

    The fact that Derrick does not have any “personal financial interests” in San Marcos is NOT a positive thing. We need leaders who are invested – emotionally, financially, and every other way – in this town….not self-appointed neighborhood watchdogs with delusions of grandeur.

    To borrow a phrase – “Not here, not now, not ever”.

  14. I believe that Ms. Derrick owns her own home in San Marcos, and works at the University.

    These count as personal financial interests in our town, in my book.

  15. Nice try attempting to spin it Dano. So you support a member on the dias polluting our downtown? Moreover, Those barrels become projectiles and were there for months. Lead by example Mr. Thomason.

    It sounds like you vote by special business interest and not what is best for the entire community over the long term.

    When i raise issues of concern it is “making noise” when i reference accomplishments it becomes trying to “be a hero.” I don’t hear any advocacy on what Thomason has accomplished in his first term.

    Its going to be splendid watching Melissa trounce Thomason! Go Melissa Go!!! The 2009 footage is up too. But, it is easer for you to spin it and twist words. Toodles, see y’all at the polls!

    Let’s not forget Thomason gave Zelick’s an award, the same company he did work for as a contractor. The same company that has has issues affecting a life long business well respected in our community. Its quite clear to me this is the “good ole boys” candidate.

  16. If you are so up in arms against RT then why didn’t you run against him?
    OH wait.. San Marcos citizens already made that choice in 2009.

  17. lost in a runoff by 258 hon …that was not a mandate, check the break down on who spent how much – watch the debate videos from 2009, he got trounced in the debates

    ask around how those early votes got cast, its a joke how that unfolded – its going to be pretty funny this year looking at the returns

    no worries, we get things done in this town w/o having to be on the dias

    If you look at the number of yard signs out for Melissa vs. Ryan – its pretty clear who is out speaking with the residents of San Marcos – she’s got him beat 20 to 1!!!!

  18. @ Dano : Those who have so little courage as to espew such nonsense about ” personal financial interests” , under the cover of a cowardly disguise, brings serious questions to bear on your validity as a human being worthy of respect . Who has the most money, influence, pending business plans, etc. is not the defining factor in who is the most qualified to represent the citizens of San Marcos, or any other entity for that matter. This very factor of financial interest that you espouse as reason for ones right to hold public office, is a complete affront to the entire democratic process we enjoy in America! You should perhaps stick your head into a bucket and meditate for awhile, perhaps you will come up with something of more substantive relevance to offer humanity,as you are certainly not worth any more than any other human being based only upon your lauded net financial worth, etc. The least among us will become the greatest, and the greatest will become the least. JLB 🙂

  19. Melissa has a clear & responsible vision that is in line with the majority of full time, home owning residents in San Marcos. She deeply cares about the community & the value of single family neighborhoods.
    She has my vote & at least two dozen other folks that I know are behind her. VOTE MELISSA!

  20. Thomason doesn’t have to put up yard signs, or really even campaign. Melissa’s name isn’t even going to be on the ballot. A write in candidate might have a chance in an off-year election since so few people vote in San Marcos in off-years, but it won’t work with a national election going on. She should have decided to run earlier.

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