by Mary Ellen Summerlin
Kerrville City Council candidate
It was something of a shock to see a real attack ad in last week’s newspaper. Having offered my opponent a chance to publicly disavow the ad at the next evening’s Chamber-sponsored virtual forum, and having seen him refuse that opportunity and refer again obliquely to “values.” I think it’s time to clarify mine for the voters.
I will stick to local issues because, no matter how the other side may try to import national and state-level topics into the local campaign, the City Council of Kerrville will not be debating or deciding on such things as immigration reform or firearms regulations.
Just a quick reflection on the chaos around our vaccination rollout should suffice to indicate how much influence local government has on the machinery in Austin! And Washington is even farther away.
What we have to do on the city council is make sure that your tax money is managed well (years of award-winning financial reports and clean audits) to provide the basic services: streets, drainage ($10 M invested in the past two years), water and wastewater treatment (new lift station, new water well), police and fire protection (new chiefs bringing fresh ideas to these strong services), public parks and recreation opportunities (River Trail extension, new history museum, Arcadia).
We have to maintain and improve those services all the time while we also consider future needs and make sure we don’t fall behind on the new capacity that will be required as we grow.
In addition a good city council is creative about finding ways to meet local needs: attracting new, good jobs (Killdeer Mt. and Gulf Avionics), for supporting existing businesses (downtown TIRZ) and by fostering construction of more affordable housing (the Landing, Lennar, just to name the largest). There are other, smaller developments underway to help fill the gap in our market.
Just as businesses and households cannot operate practically without credit (mortgages, car loans), so cities can and should make conservative use of debt and credit (the AA bond rating shows we do). Calling an election on every transaction is not a practical way to do business. City policy adopted in 2010 provides that the council will not increase debt in such a way that the tax rate is increased. This is sensible and adequate protection.
A good city council makes sure everything the government does is transparent and inclusive with even-handed treatment for all citizens. It conducts its business with respect and civility. It fields complaints from citizens and makes sure that the city manager and his staff are responsive and as accommodating as possible.
It ensures that city employees (only the city attorney and the city manager directly) are treated fairly with consistent policies, good working conditions, and pay and benefits that are as competitive as possible.
The current city council gets an A grade on all of the above. My goal to is help that great record continue. I love this work. I know I can do it effectively because I’ve done it for nearly 18 years in local elective office, both in Kerrville (8 on Headwaters and nearly 2 on city council) and in Port Arthur.
My opponent seems to have turned to the desperation tactic of accusing me of positions I have never supported on national issues. His characterizations of my values are irrelevant to the work of the city council, and they are false. To deal in such faulty logic belittles the intelligence of the voters. We deserve better.