The Issues

  • Excuses Are Not Enough: The District 4 incumbent sat on Georgetown Utility System Advisory Board throughout the entire process of committing the city to futures trading.  He surely knew the board did not have enough diversity for meaningful guidance, ignored advice from at least one board member to get professional guidance, and should have known enough to ask the right questions.
  • Keep Georgetown Beautiful: The District 4 incumbent’s push to dismantle ethics guidelines is not going to help keep our small city charm, and congestion on Williams is hardly evidence of good stewardship.
  • Too Many Surprises: During our current Councillor’s tenure, most of the surprises during council meetings could have been avoided with adequate input from citizens and current businesses.
  • Tighten Up The Purse Strings: The energy gamble is but one example of frivolous spending of our money.

Joe recently chatted with the local League of Women Voters. The following comes from their website:

What strategies will you use to ensure open communication between City Hall and residents?
Under the present council, general citizen comments are delayed until the end of each council session. That needs to be switched back to having the session at the beginning with enough council discussion to clarify citizen concerns.

There is too much work done by city staff exploring issues before input by affected citizens. It is all too human to hold onto concepts that have been formulated, so some plans seem to have momentum beyond residents’ ability to affect change. Unfortunately, concepts often have to be fleshed out and made visual in order to communicate them, so it is hard on staff to be flexible after their hard work is ready for review.

The advisory boards should be asked to come up with effective ways to solicit broader input than that from the few members of the board. The sample set is just too small to generate representative resident input.

What are your top environmental and land development concerns and how do you plan to address them?
There is no flexibility under present state law to have significant impact at the city level, as evidenced by Denton’s anti-fracking law being overturned. What we can do is have a robust Uniform Development Code, and enforce it, that maximizes carbon capture through protection of trees.

The Georgetown Utility Services board has too broad of a scope to properly address environmental issues. Given the energy debacle, there is talk of splitting into at least two boards, one for water issues and one for electricity, but even that might not be enough. Waste water handling, abatement of stream contamination, etc. probably need to be separately handled from potable water.

The ETJ has not been adequately represented, and an ETJ advisory board is needed. Those in the ETJ will eventually become residents, so we should be listening to concerns that the city can address before they become problems. For instance, there is an immediate effluent problem on South San Gabriel being ignored.

How will you address future infrastructure needs in your community?
Georgetown is a bedroom community for the Austin metro. We are going to grow regardless as long as this is a decent place to live.

Significant new development should not be allowed unless infrastructure is addressed beforehand. If the UDC is not strong enough in this regard, it needs to be strengthened. For example, if a new development such as the one envisioned for Shell Road with 1000+ homes cannot afford to widen Shell Road before new residents move in, then the development can’t afford to be in Georgetown.

As far as traffic congestion on Williams and other major roads, mitigation is needed. The street grid system in old town provides lots of options to those who know the streets, and doesn’t require a lot of mitigation. But the local, collector, and arterial model used elsewhere in Georgetown does, and city management has not done a good job on traffic. Energy and time spent on economic development should be redirected to traffic mitigation.

What other critical issue will you address and how?
Transparency and reestablishing resident control are my top two concerns. The third is a need for ethical treatment of everyone who deals with the council. Recent bullying of the Wilco Sun editor by the mayor should have drawn a rebuke from council members. As a single council member, I might not be able to win a vote, but I can hold unethical behavior to account.

There has been a consistent 5-2 vote against some issues I care about, such as keeping teeth in the Historical and Architectural Review Commission. That pattern shouts ideology at work shutting down brains, or something more insidious. With me on council, the ratio on HARC would be down to 4-3, which might be enough to pull one more from the dark side. Also, there are two more people running for council who do not like the five person voting bloc, so a new council is possible.