Latest City Council Debate Increases Tensions Between Candidates

todayOctober 7, 2015 16

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by Taylor Zavala
News Director

The University Star hosted a debate between Place 5 and Place 6 candidates for San Marcos City Council.
Candidates for Place 5 include Scott Gregson and Frank Arredondo. Candidates for Place 6 include Melissa Derrick and incumbent Shane Scott.

Questions directed at all four candidates ranged through a variety of topics, including the role Texas State University plays in the growth of San Marcos, concerns that could arise regarding City infrastructure due to the rapid growth of San Marcos, how the development of Cape’s Camp impacted surrounding areas and how candidates plan to preserve the natural environment that surrounds the City.

Though all candidates made a point in responses to remain respectful to their opponents, it was apparent that the competition between all four candidates is very much alive.

city council debate
Photo by Taylor Zavala

The debate began with questions being directed to Place 5 candidates Gregson and Arredondo, where Gregson made a splash regarding the impact of University growth being intertwined with San Marcos. He compared the relationship between the the University and the City, saying “Basically you’re our guests here. We’re your hosts. There is a relationship that we have here. I’m very pleased to see the University grow, I think that we have some growing pains that we’re suffering together, but I think we can get through those with our comprehensive master plan, I think we have a way through to make sure we have a symbiotic relationship to the existing community and the University.” Arredondo also agreed that new students bring new enthusiasm to the community, as well as  revenue the City needs, and believes appreciation needs to be stressed to maintain the services that they give, saying “I think that the balance there, and the way to do this, is communicate more with the University, and the City, and the County, and the school district, so we can all work together and guide the growth that the business community goes, the new business opportunities as well as where housing for students will take place.”

city council debate
Photo by Taylor Zavala

Gregson and Arredondo also stressed concerns over how the rapid growth of San Marcos could cause more issues regarding the infrastructure of the City. Gregson described the growth as a major apprehension he has saying “with more people come more needs”, citing the Greater San Marcos Partnership’s research that the people moving to San Marcos have incomes lower than the incomes that are currently available within the San Marcos community. Gregson and Arredondo both agreed that employment is also a large issues within the City, with Arredondo saying he wants to continue the growth San Marcos has seen, citing EPIC Piping and Amazon as major game changers in ensuring employment opportunities and growth.

However, the debate heated up once Place 6 candidates Melissa Derrick and incumbent Shane Scott took the stand for their turn to answer posed questions. Though Derrick and Scott didn’t agree over much, they worked to show how instead of running against one another, they are individuals with similar talking points but differing stances.

A topic that refused to be ignored was the controversy behind the development of the Woods Apartment Complex on Cape’s Camp, and the impacts the development has had on surrounding areas. Derrick used many of the questions directed towards her as moments to inform attendees of her stance that multi-family homes should not be built near single-family neighborhoods, referencing issues she has personally dealt with due to living near college students, and also issues that have been brought to her attention by neighbors of the Woods complex.

city council debate
Photo by Taylor Zavala

In a back and forth debate, Scott argued with Derrick saying his voting record reflects his stance on property rights being protected. He also stressed the idea that developing the Woods complex would be beneficial to the students during their stay in San Marcos, saying “The Thornton family had owned it for years and it was their right to sell it. The people who wanted to built the apartment complex wanted to build an apartment complex for students, a place for students to enjoy being college students, and we were able to get the parkland from the community and the citizens out of the deal. That was my main attraction to it all. The fact that it’s being used as a political platform, saying it flooded neighborhoods or increased flooding is nothing more than rhetoric.” However, Derrick criticized Scott and the deal that allowed the Woods complex to come to life, saying “We could’ve had something along the lines of Rio Vista and larger, and what we got were apartments, and I still hold fast that property rights are for everyone, they’re not just for a rich family that owned a huge parcel of land on the river… I’m on the neighborhood commission, and we get complaints all the time about people urinating on cars, and the things that they do.” However, both Derrick and Scott did agree that preserving the natural environment of San Marcos was something that deserved attention and focus from both residents and visitors of San Marcos. Scott stressed the importance of educating those who used the rivers, whereas Derrick stressed the importance of picking up trash and changing the culture surrounding treatment of the river.

city council debate
Photo by Taylor Zavala

The debate ended with a round of applause for all candidates in attendance, where attendees were able to mix and mingle with Derrick, Scott, Arredondo and Gregson. Among attendees were both Texas State University students, and older residents of San Marcos. One student in attendance was Public Affairs major and President of College Democrats, Nicholas Laughlin, who gave advice for students voting for the first time, stressing the importance of paying attention to this upcoming November election saying “For this election, in my opinion, it’s different from a statewide election or the Presidential election because in the next couple of weeks we’ll be voting for people to represent us students. We live here for 4,5,6 years, especially when they’re freshman, they’ll see the candidates be on council for a couple of years, and it’s really going to impact them in their everyday life. The ordinances that they pass, the initiatives that they do, how they keep the river clean, how the City works with the school, how we have clean water and fluoridation that’s on the ballot, those are all really important things to the City and it’s really important that students realize that because they live in the City and what happens at City Hall impacts them everyday.” Laughlin also hopes students will understand how important voting can be. 

Early voting begins Monday, October 19 and ends Friday, October 30. General election day is November 3. You can find more information about voting booths and times here.

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