This morning at City Hall, candidates for City Council participated in a random drawing to assign the ballot order. Each year, candidates do this to determine who appears first, second, etc., on the election ballot.
This year, for Place 1, the order will be:
And for Place 2, you’ll see this order on the ballot:
Just a reminder that the last day to register to vote is April 4, Early Voting begins on April 22, and Election Day is May 4. Stay tuned to Kerrville United for all of your citywide election coverage!
The filing deadline passed on Friday for a spot on the May 2019 ballot for City Council Place 1 and Place 2. Following the city’s official press release naming the four candidates in the race, Kerrville United has begun reaching out to invite them to appear on our platform. We cordially invite each candidate to sit for a video interview so that the voters can be better informed about their choices on this year’s ballot.
Since 2016, Kerrville United has provided the public with information that is difficult to find in other forms of local media. We focus on local politics — Kerrville city politics, specifically. For the past three years, KU has interviewed candidates, created “explainer” videos, and published scores of articles explaining not only the current news, but also the context, the history, and the explanations to help you understand local news and issues. All of this content is presented free of charge, without paywalls, and is presented on the web and social media so that it’s easily accessed by the entire voting population.
Keeping with the tradition of making local government accessible and understandable to the masses, we now invite each of the four candidates to appear for an interview on our program. The candidates for the May 2019 race include:
Place 1: Gary Cochrane versus George Baroody Place 2: Kim Clarkson versus Mario Garcia
Kerrville United invited candidates from both competitive races to appear for an interview in 2018. During that election cycle, only Bill Blackburn and Judy Eychner agreed to be interviewed. Bonnie White and Gary Cooper did not respond to our invitation. We extended the same invitation in 2017, and only Stephen Fine agreed to participate during that election cycle.
Some candidates are nervous about what to expect when sitting for an interview with us. So we have created these public ground rules and stipulations that we pledge to adhere to when producing these candidate interviews.
All four candidates are invited to participate in this interview series. The city has publicly announced that all four candidates mentioned above have filed the proper paperwork for a spot on the ballot, so all four are invited.
If additional candidates file as a write-in, they will also be invited to participate. The city’s deadline for a write-in candidacy is February 19.
This announcement and invitation is being posted on this website and on our public Facebook page. We will also send email invitations to candidates, if we have their contact information. As of this writing, we have contact information for all candidates except Mr. Garcia, and we have begun reaching out to his family members to gather his contacts.
All interviews will be broadcast live and unedited on Kerrville United’s streaming platform(s) which may include Facebook, YouTube, and/or another live streaming service. After the live broadcast, the full, unedited interviews will be available for public viewing “on demand” via Facebook and YouTube.
Interview location will be determined by Kerrville United producers based on the suitability of a site for lighting, sound, and other production considerations. All interviews will take place in Kerrville.
Interview dates and times will be negotiated individually with each participating candidate, and will be publicly announced as soon as a time and date is agreed upon.
This invitation to participate expires on Monday, April 1 at 12:01 AM. If a candidate has not agreed to participate by this deadline, we cannot guarantee a spot.
Topics, questions, and conversation topics will not be made available to the candidates in advance. However, KU does offer “coaching” to each candidate, which includes instructions and recommendations on how to prepare for an interview of this type, such as: Review and become familiar with issues that our city faces; prepare to share your resume, background, and relevant experience; a reminder live interviews do not have “retakes” or “re-dos,” so we suggest taking one’s time when answering tough questions; what to wear to look your best on film.
All questions and topics will be relevant to a candidate’s potential service as a council member. If a candidate has served in city government previously, either in elected office or on a board or commission, questions may include the candidate’s history and record of public service and voting record.
We pledge that there will be no “gotcha” questions, which we define as “off-topic, irrelevant, or personal questions that have no bearing on a candidate’s potential service on city council.” During the interview, if a candidate disagrees with the premise of a question, or feels that the question violates this policy, we encourage them to say so, and explain their reasoning.
Each interview will be conducted by Aaron Yates, founder of Kerrville United, and will be in a one-on-one format — one interviewer, one interviewee.
We pledge to be respectful of each candidate’s valuable time, and we will keep the interviews concise and on-topic, and will not exceed thirty minutes of live broadcast time.
If any candidate (or any audience member) has any questions about these proposed interviews, please do not hesitate to contact Aaron Yates via email at aaron [at] kerrvillephoto.com, or by sending us a message on Facebook.
We thank the candidates in advance for their consideration of this invitation, as well as for their commitment to public service.
The ballot for the 2019 City Council election is set. On the final day to file for the ballot, two candidates turned in paperwork, joining two other candidates who filed near the beginning of the time period.
Place 1 is currently held by Vincent Voelkel. Voelkel picked up a packet in December, but did not file for a spot on this year’s ballot. Voelkel was elected in May 2017. Place 2 is currently held by George Baroody, who was elected after running unopposed in 2017.
The match-ups will be:
Place 1:Gary Cochrane versus George Baroody
Place 2:Kim Clarkson versus Mario Garcia
The election will take place on May 4, 2019, with early voting running from April 22 to April 30.
Here is some more information about each candidate in the race…
Place 1: Gary Cochrane
Gary Cochrane is a real estate agent with RE/MAX Kerrville. He is a Kerrville native and a graduate of the University of Texas. He has served as chairman of the Economic Improvement Corporation (EIC), President of the Kerrville Board of Realtors, worked with Habitat for Humanity, and has been active in the Walk to Emmaus program.
I am running for City Council because I believe I have the vision and proven leadership to help continue to move Kerrville in a positive direction. As a life long resident of Kerrville I am strongly committed to working to see that our community continues to improve and move forward. I want to see a successful future for Kerrville by providing long-term vision and empowering our leaders and staff to perform at the highest level.
In 2017, George Baroody ran unopposed for Place 2, and currently serves on City Council in that position. He is a self-employed computer consultant and is active in the Kerrville Little League. He is a 1985 graduate of WT Woodson High School in Fairfax, Virginia.
Baroody has resided in Kerrville since 2002. Prior to 2017, Baroody also ran unsuccessfully for city council positions in 2016 and 2015. Baroody currently serves as Place 2 Council Member. He has not explained the reason for his shift to the Place 1 spot for the 2019 ballot.
“I weighed it out as far as whether I should or shouldn’t run again, and it just seemed like there’s a lot of unfinished business, so here I am, running again,” Baroody said. “The position I’m taking is defending those rights and those working people that are here in Kerrville.”
As of Friday, February 15, no public website or Facebook page could be found for Mr. Baroody’s campaign.
Place 2: Kim Clarkson
Kim Clarkson is employed at her family’s business, Kerr County Abstract and Title Company. She is a Kerrville native, having graduated from Tivy High School in 1994. She is also a graduate of the University of Texas. Prior to her career at the title company, she was an elementary teacher at Starkey Elementary in Kerrville.
Clarkson has a lengthy resume that includes numerous service positions with local charities, non-profits, and advocacy organizations such as Executive Women’s Club, Hill Country College Fund, Kerr County United Way, Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce, Kerrville Public School Foundation, Relay for Life, and Rotary Club of Kerrville. In addition, she has served the City of Kerrville on the Code Review Committee and on the economic development subcommittee of the Kerrville 2050 Comprehensive Plan.
I want to be a voice for families raising their children in Kerrville, a group that is currently not represented on council. Families like mine are among many who enjoy the new sports complex, who take our kids to river trail to ride bikes, and kayak on the Guadalupe River. It would be a great joy to see future generations have the opportunity and desire to raise their own families here in Kerrville. For this to continue, we must preserve our economic sustainability and community-centered growth.
Mario Garcia filed for a spot on the ballot for City Council Place 2 on February 15, 2019 — the final day to file for the election. He is an information technology consultant and a volunteer at Christian Men’s Job Corps.
Garcia is a Kerrville native and his son, Roman Garcia, serves on the Kerrville Youth Advisory Board. Mario Garcia has been a frequent speaker at recent City Council meetings.
“I really hope that what I’m capable of bringing is the voice of a society that’s been silently contributing to the community by their labor, by their taxes and by their support,” Garcia said. “That voice is something that I hope we can raise up more so that we all feel like we can contribute to our community and city government.”
City Council passed an ordinance to amend the city’s health code to allow for food trucks (Mobile Food Units) within the City Limits, as long as those vendors meet our health standards, fire safety standards, and remain mobile.
Under the current law, which will be replaced with this new ordinance, it is difficult for food trucks to operate on a regular basis because of the high fees, stringent rules, and specific requirements in the code that require a permanent facility for food storage and waste disposal. City staff met with local vendors and committees to help alleviate those challenges.
The new ordinance will change the city’s laws to more closely match the state standards for health and safety as it pertains to restaurants and mobile vendors. In addition, the city will remove the “peddler’s permit,” remove the location fee, and remove the requirement for a one-year lease. Instead, a single permit for mobile food units will be established, and a difference permitting process will be established for special events.
Council stated that it definitely wants food trucks to be allowed, but wants to be very sure that the health and safety of the public is protected. This ordinance would provide that safety while simultaneously lowering the costs to encourage mobile food units.
The ordinance was passed unanimously on first reading. The ordinance must be approved a second time at the next city council meeting, and then the law will be adopted.
In a 4-1 vote on Thursday evening, February 7, the Planning and Zoning Commission denied a variance request for a large electronic sign submitted by Calvary Temple Church. The proposed sign was to be located on church property along Loop 534, and would have more than doubled the currently allowed maximum sign area.
The motion to deny was made by David Jones, seconded by Garrett Harmon, and passed 4-1, with Chairman Bob Waller casting the dissenting vote.
“In a few months, this may be a moot point.”
Rustin Zuber, P&Z Commission Member
More than one commission member stated that they were voting “no” at this time, but that the code review process was in the works, and the sign ordinance may very well change once that process is complete. So it is possible that the proposed sign may, in fact, be in compliance with a future amended sign ordinance.
Staff reported that the Code Review Committee would be meeting during the next two weeks, and an open house of the proposed revisions would be available to the public on February 25. Following that presentation, a joint P&Z and Council meeting would be scheduled for March 7.
With just four days left to pick up and file an application to be on the ballot for Place 1 or Place 2 this May, only two candidates have emerged thus far. Gary Cochrane will be on the ballot for Place 1, and Kim Clarkson will be there on Place 2. So far, no other candidates have filed for this election, and the deadline is this Friday, February 15.
The two incumbents that currently occupy these seats are Vincent Voelkel and George Baroody, in Place 1 and Place 2, respectively. Voelkel defeated Stephen Fine in 2017, and Baroody ran unopposed for his seat that year. So far, Voelkel has picked up a packet but has not publicly disclosed his intention to run or not run, nor has he turned in his application. Baroody, for his part, has not yet picked up the packet nor has he disclosed publicly whether or not he’ll seek reelection.
Each of the five places on the Kerrville City Council is elected at-large, meaning you don’t have to reside in a specific district or geographic zone to run for a seat, and all eligible city voters get to cast a ballot for all seats up for grabs — no matter where you live in the city limits. In Kerrville, we elect Place 1 and Place 2 in odd years, every two years. The Mayor, Place 3, and Place 4 are also up every two years, but on even years.
Historically, most races are contested. Here’s a list of the number of candidates on the ballot for the last few years.
No. of Candidates
*- In the table above, for 2016 Place 4, four candidates appeared on the ballot, although one candidate (Gene Smith) dropped out of the race before the election.
In recent years, it is not unusual for a candidate to file for a place on the ballot during the last week (or even last day) before the deadline. These last-minute candidates typically pay the $100 fee in leiu of filing a petition of registered voters. After the deadline, a candidate can still file to be a “write-in” up until February 19. The last day for a candidate to withdraw from the election is February 22.
This year’s election will be held on May 4, with early voting running from April 22 to April 30. You MUST register to vote by April 4.
The Kerrville City Council will convene on Tuesday evening, February 12, at 6 PM, at City Hall. This week’s agenda includes an affordable housing community, a conditional use permit for HEB, food trucks, establishment of a senior services board, Playhouse 2000, and board appointments. Council will also adjourn to executive session to discuss a proposed Marriot Springhill Suites hotel planned for downtown.
On a lighter and more inspirational note, fourth grader Madaline Munoz will receive a Certificate of Recognition for her heroic efforts during a house fire at her home. The Kerrville Fire Department will recognize Madaline for her quick thinking in this emergency situation. Our congratulations go out to this exceptional 10-year-old!
Low Income Housing Application by Hillcrest Senior Village
The city council will consider supporting an application by Hillcrest Senior Village to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs for low income housing tax credits. This proposed development will be located on Lehman Drive and will contain approximately 50 units, 40 of which will have restricted rents, and 10 of which will offer standard market rate rents, in order to accommodate the diverse housing needs of mixed–income seniors in the City of Kerrville.
If the application is approved, the developer would receive federal funds via the state agency for property tax reductions of about 9%. To be competitive, the applicant must receive a commitment of a financial contribution to the project by the City of Kerrville in an amount of at least $250 in the form of a loan, grant, or reduced fees. Once submitted to the state, the application would be approved by July 2019.
HEB Gas Station Conditional Use Permit
HEB’s plans for a new store also include a new set of gas pumps and a car wash near the northwest corner of their property. Although there is already a gas station on this property, the new plans include relocating the pumps and adding more pumps, as well as a car wash, and this action requires a Conditional Use Permit, or CUP.
Council will hold a public hearing and consider granting this CUP, which has been recommended for approval by staff.
Health, Sanitation, and Food Trucks?
Kerrville wants to modernize its Health and Sanitation Code by adopting the Texas Food Establishment Rules — a set of state regulations that Texas adopted in 2015. In addition to simplifying food establishment rules, this adoption would also update the Mobile Food Unit section of the city’s ordinances. The city has met with various food truck vendors to review this ordinance, and the city’s Food Service Advisory Board recommends the ordinance for adoption.
The takeaway here is that this ordinance would allow food trucks in Kerrville, assuming the vendors can meet the other rules and regulations. But specifically, this ordinance would do several things to make food trucks possible:
Variance process for the requirements of a Central Preparation Facility — Currently, all food trucks must have a permitted kitchen or other facility to prepare food and dispose of waste, making it difficult to operate a food truck unless the vendor also has a storefront or catering facility somewhere. This ordinance could lift that requirement on a case by case basis.
Fire safety requirement — The Code Review process is ongoing, but this ordinance would allow vendors to comply with all fire codes until the code review is complete.
Lowering fees — The annual permit fee would be reduced.
The overall goal of this update, as discussed with the participating vendors and Food Service Advisory Board, is to simplify the ordinance and increase the availability of the food truck permits.
Senior Services Advisory Board
Council will consider changing the membership of the board to 16 members (up from 13 members). Each member of this board must be at least 55 years of age or have experience in senior service, and must reside within the city limits.
Cailloux Theater Operations Agreement with Playhouse 2000
The Cailloux Theater (officially known as the Kathleen C. Cailloux City Center for the Performing Arts) was renovated in the early 2000s, but even before that renovation, the Playhouse 2000 organization operated the theater and coordinated the performances that take place in that exceptional venue.
Since that original agreement that was created almost 20 years ago, the city and the Playhouse 2000 organization have negotiated updates for a new agreement, clarifying operating practices and maintenance responsibilities.
The city’s expenditure for this agreement is $100,000 for this budget year. Staff recommends approval of this new agreement.
Parking Garage Enhancements Funding
Council will consider applying for funding through the EIC for various enhancements to the downtown parking garage at the corner of Water Street and Sidney Baker. The funding would provide maintenance and enhanced aesthetics to the structure. The funding request totals $350,000.
Annexation of future KISD Junior High School Land
Council will consider the annexation petition from KISD for the proposed junior high school along Loop 534. District voters approved a bond issue in November 2018 that included the construction of a new junior high school across from the current Tivy High School on the loop. This annexation request is part of that project, and will be considered several times between now and May 28th, when the annexation would be finalized, if approved.
Executive Session: Marriot Hotel in Downtown?
Council will adjourn to executive session to discuss economic development negotiations regarding the construction of a Marriot Springhill Suites hotel along Water and Spring Streets in downtown Kerrville. No information is publicly available regarding this hotel, but rumor has it that the hotel is to be located between One Schreiner Center and the old phone company building — just across the street from the Catholic Church.
Kerrville’s Planning & Zoning Commission will discuss electronic signage during this Thursday’s regularly scheduled meeting at City Hall. Two agenda items relate to the electronic signage issue. The first is a discussion regarding sign ordinance research. The second is a variance request for Calvary Temple Church’s proposed electronic sign on Loop 534. The variance request for the Chamber of Commerce sign has been withdrawn and will not be part of Thursday’s meeting.
The full agenda and packet is available to download here (PDF).
Sign Ordinance Review
At the previous P&Z meeting, the commission instructed staff to review the current sign ordinance and collect examples of various sign ordinances from other communities. This research was specific to how other cities treat electronic message displays, digital boards, electronic message centers, or changeable copy signs.
Within the agenda packet prepared for commission members, staff has created a chart displaying sign ordinances from numerous Texas cities as small as Llano and as large as Bryan. Many of these cities regulate a sign’s total area, and then denote a percentage of that total area that can be used for electronic messages. The chart is shown below.
Staff recommends that if the commission does want to change the code, that they consider changing our current ordinance to regulate electronic signage as a percentage of the total size of an allowed sign, but also cautions the commission that another committee has already been tasked with the review of the sign code (along with other ordinances) next year. Staff’s opinion states that it might not be prudent to review and update the sign code at this time, knowing that the entire code will be reviewed again in a few months.
The Kerrville Daily Times offered an online poll on their website asking if the city’s sign and billboard regulations need an update. Although the poll doesn’t indicate the number of responses, the results show that approximately 2/3 of respondents believe the regulations need to be updated.
If the P&Z does decide to amend the ordinance, it would not be done at Thursday’s meeting. Staff and City Attorney Mike Hayes would likely draft an ordinance to amend the code, which would be approved at subsequent meetings.
Chamber of Commerce Sign
Last month a variance request for TEU Services for a sign located at the Chamber of Commerce was pulled from the agenda just hours prior to the meeting. Again this month, the variance request has been withdrawn and may be reapplied for at a later date. So, for now, the sign at the Chamber of Commerce building will continue to be used only in part, so as to conform with the current ordinance.
Calvary Temple Sign
After tabling the matter last month, Calvary Temple Church is back on the agenda for two variances relating to an application for an electronic sign along Loop 534. The two variances requested include:
To allow a freestanding sign to be located on nonresidential property for an establishment that has an existing monument sign;
To allow an electronic sign to exceed the maximum size of 32 square feet by allowing an electronic sign that is 12 feet by 6 feet for a total of 72 square feet.
Staff traditionally does not make recommendations for or against specific sign variances, and has not made a recommendation in this case.
If the variance request is approved, Calvary Temple may begin construction of the sign. The variance does not have to be reviewed by City Council.
The meeting is scheduled for 4:30 PM this Thursday, February 7, 2019, and will be held in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 701 Main Street, Kerrville, Texas. The meeting is open to the public.
In an op-ed published in the weekend edition of the Kerrville Daily Times, the CEO of the Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau reminds us of the tremendous economic impact that tourism brings our community. According to Charlie McIlvain and CVB research, tourism supports over 17% of local jobs and reduces the tax burden for local residents by one-third.
McIlvain goes on to note that local amenities funded by local government are big reasons that visitors flock to our area — specifically, the sports complex and the ag barn.
The CVB’s research indicates that the tourism industry contributed around $14 million in tax revenue to the city, county, and other local taxing entities.
Each time the City of Kerrville or other local government entities considers a “quality of life” project, it’s not simply the recreational benefits to the residents that are considered — it’s the economic impact that’s the real prize. Quality of life projects such as the River Trail, Sports Complex, and downtown streetscape enhancements are not simply a way to entertain locals and provide aesthetic improvements for us to enjoy, but these projects also represent real economic impacts that we all benefit from.