Interview with Place 3 Candidate Judy Eychner

Earlier this year we invited all of the candidates in the city election to join us in studio for a conversation about the campaigns, local issues, and their qualifications to serve on our city council. Our first volunteer is Mrs. Judy Eychner, a candidate for Place 3.

We have reached out to the other candidates, too, and we will bring you an interview with Bill Blackburn in the near future. But we have not heard back from Mayor Bonnie White or Place 3 candidate Gary Cooper. If they take us up on our invitation, we’ll bring you those conversations, as well.

Remember that early voting begins on April 23 and election day is May 5. Get out the vote!

EIC moves forward with Olympic Pool feasibility study

The EIC voted unanimously on Monday to move ahead with a funding agreement that would pay for a feasibility study on the Olympic Pool. The study would evaluate the condition of the pool, potential new features, competitive elements, staffing, and the use of the pool by Schreiner University and Kerrville ISD programs.

Staff will begin work on a funding agreement that will have to come back to the EIC for approval in March. If EIC approves that funding agreement, City Council would also have to add its blessing before the feasibility study can begin.

Director of Parks and Recreation Ashlea Boyle presented information to the EIC board about the pool’s current use and status, as well as items that would be included in the feasibility study. Her presentation can be viewed in the YouTube video below from 9:10 to 27:00.

Next Steps…

  1. City staff will draft a funding agreement for the study
  2. EIC will consider whether or not to approve that funding agreement in March
  3. If EIC approves, City Council also must approve, and that would probably be in late March or early April
  4. If Council approves, the City would put out an RFQ (Request for Qualifications) from companies that would like to provide the feasibility study
  5. The City would contract with one of those companies and the study would begin

EDITOR’S NOTE: Changed “request for proposals” to “request for qualifications” after it was brought to our attention that this was in error.

Election Season is Underway

With the close of business on Friday, February 16, the opportunity to file for a place on the citywide election ballot of 2018 came to an end. That begins the official campaign season for city council and mayoral candidates leading up to the May 5 election.

View our latest video that discusses who is running, explains how to make sure you’re registered to vote, and how to vote. There is also a special segment where we examine the voter turnout statistics from the most recent citywide election.

Please follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kerrvilleunited

Judy Eychner announces candidacy for Place 3

During the final week of applications for the election ballot, Mrs. Judy Eychner has announced her candidacy for a seat on the Kerrville City Council. Eychner will seek election to Place 3, which is currently occupied by Mary Ellen Summerlin, who has decided not to run for election this year. Eychner will compete against Gary Cooper, an EIC member who has also filed for Place 3.

Eychner is a long-time Kerrville resident, having moved here with her husband George in 1989. Judy was a teacher at Notre Dame School and in the Kerrville Independent School District, an executive director of the Mount Wesley Conference Center, and for the past 14 years, a full-time Realtor. Eychner is currently employed as a real estate agent with Century 21 The Hills of Kerrville.

Mrs. Eychner serves on the Kerr County Habitat for Humanity board, the Dietert Center board, the City of Kerrville Zoning Board of Adjustments, and the Kerr County Appraisal District (KCAD) board. In addition, she is a member of the noon Rotary Club of Kerrville, the Kerrville Board of Realtors, and a long-time member of First United Methodist Church of Kerrville.

“As a local and full-time realtor in the Kerrville area for 14 years, I see first hand on a daily basis the importance of the city’s oversight and decisions in both the business and residential side of Kerrville… This is a pivotal time in the life of our city.  There are decisions to be made that will affect not just our young people but the young people in years to come.  I would like to be a positive part of that process and I believe I have the experience, knowledge, and longevity of living here to make a significant impact.”

Judy and her husband George grew up in Nebraska before coming to Texas via George’s service in the US Air Force. Judy graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln with a degree in business education. The Eychners moved to Kerrville from San Angelo following George’s retirement from the military. They have three children (two of which graduated from Tivy High School), and seven grandchildren.

Early voting for City Council begins on April 23 and runs through May 1. Election Day is May 5, 2018. The last day to register to vote in this election is April 5. See our Voting page for more information on how to register and vote in this very important election!

KEDC Executive Director Resigns

In an email sent to his contacts today, Brian O’Connor announced his resignation as Executive Director of the Kerr Economic Development Corporation, or KEDC, the independent board charged with expanding business and economic opportunities in Kerrville and Kerr County.

In his statement, released Thursday morning, February 15, Mr. O’Connor assured a seamless transition, and announced that Chamber of Commerce President Walt Koenig would assume his duties in the interim.

O’Connor pointed to his family’s election not to move to Kerrville as the primary reason for his departure, and mentioned that he has secured a job in Austin so that he can move closer to those family members.

Mr. O’Connor had served as KEDC’s Executive Director since October 2016.

The resignation comes just a few months after a conflict between and among the KEDC, the EIC, and the City Council majority. George Baroody, City Councilmember in Place 2 and council liaison to the EIC, stated in a meeting last fall that he envisioned KEDC functions being brought into the City of Kerrville at staff level, and advocated for a cut in the KEDC’s budget, effectively stating that the KEDC might be shut down completely. According to our sources, this statement and these actions contributed to at least one staff member resigning from KEDC immediately afterward because of that person’s concerns about losing employment.

This fight went on for several weeks, with numerous community leaders speaking out in favor of the mission of the KEDC, which seemed to be threatened by the current council majority of White, Baroody, and Voelkel, who control the majority of the KEDC’s funding via their oversight of the EIC.

That budget battle eventually culminated in the termination of EIC member James Wilson and subsequent resignation of EIC member Paul Stafford. Control of the EIC was then placed firmly in the hands of the current council majority’s nominees to that board which controls the KEDC budget.

This is a developing story that will be updated as we gather additional information.

Fact Check: Sports Complex

What questions do you have about the sports complex? We’ll be happy to answer them or find someone who can. Shoot us a message on our Facebook page or comment on this post: facebook.com/KerrvilleUnited


The brand new Kerrville Sports Complex opened this week on Holdsworth Drive. The ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Wednesday, January 17, and the ceremonial “first pitch” and “first kicks” were held on Saturday, January 20. Lots of news coverage has focused on the complex this week.

In an article authored by Zeke MacCormack and published in the San Antonio Express News about the ribbon cutting ceremony at the new sports complex on Holdsworth Drive, the author writes about issues connected to the complex that are several years old and have a confusing history. Here are some of the statements from the article and our fact-checks and context that should help inform readers about the new facility.

Please note that we have not addressed the purely political aspects of the article and have instead chosen to focus on the hard facts.


TRUE: “The city estimates that each six-day tournament involving 500 players or more will generate $1 million in local economic spending — at hotels, restaurants, gas stations and such.”

  • This was stated by Ashlea Boyle, director of parks and recreation, City of Kerrville.
  • This estimate relies on official estimates from the Convention and Visitors Bureau that states at least 3 visitors accompany each player in a multiday baseball tournament

 

NEEDS CONTEXT: “The city issued $9 million in debt to cover the remaining costs of putting in the sports fields. The debt will be paid off using local sales tax proceeds.”

  • The debt service will be paid using 4B sales tax revenues, which are required to be spent on economic development projects.
  • The funds do not come from the general sales tax revenues that the city relies on for its operating budget.
  • The EIC approved the funding for this project, and council blessed it, in 2015.
  • See our white paper on the city’s finances for more context.

 

FALSE: Mayor White was quoted in the article: “I wasn’t opposed to the project at all. I was opposed to how it was funded and how the contracts were structured.”

  • Mayor White voted against the project five separate times in 2015 and 2016.
  • She also voted numerous times against the water reuse pond and reuse distribution lines that were a critical element to the success of the sports complex.

 

NEEDS CONTEXT: According to Mayor White in the article: “[DBAT] have two years’ free rent, and we have the debt service and maintenance costs to cover… We may never receive any lease revenue if they have 20 or more tournaments a year, the way the contract is structured.”

  • The lease contract with DBAT includes a clause that DBAT pays no “rent” on the building as long as they continue to host at least 20 baseball tournaments per year.
  • As stated above, each baseball tournament has the potential to generate $1 million in local economic activity, so up to $20 million annually.
  • DBAT’s rent would never be as high as the economic potential of 20 baseball tournaments.
  • Therefore DBAT is incentivized to do even more public good for the community and host as many baseball tournaments as possible.
  • This incentivization has the potential to greatly exceed any potential rent revenues the city could extract from the building.

The sports complex is officially open for business. Soccer and baseball events, games, and tournaments are already filling up the calendars for the spring and summer. For more information about the sports complex, visit the following websites:

https://www.kerrvilletx.gov/1461/Sports-Complex

http://www.dbatkerrville.com/

Delayne Sigerman files for Place 4

This week Delayne Sigerman officially filed for a place on the ballot for City Council Place 4. The city election is scheduled for May 5, 2018, and Kerrville will elect a mayor and two city councilpersons on places 3 and 4.

Sigerman has served on the Economic Improvement Corporation, the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, and the board of directors for Playhouse 2000.

She is the first person to file for the Place 4 seat. Incumbent councilperson Warren Ferguson, who was appointed to fill the term left vacant by the resignation of Gene Allen, is not running for another term.

In a press release, Sigerman stated:

 

I’m running for City Council because I believe I can add value to planning Kerrville’s future based upon my experience on the EIC Board, my steering committee involvement with the planning process of the Comprehensive Plan, my experience on the Board of Playhouse 2000 and the personal investment I have made attending many of the Council meetings to observe and learn over the past two years. My family lives, works and recreates here in Kerrville so therefore, I have a vested interested in seeing it continue to thrive and prosper.

Sports Complex Grand Opening

The brand new Kerrville Sports Complex is officially open for business. The ceremonial ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Wednesday, January 17, and another ceremonial opening will be held on Saturday morning at 10 AM, including a ceremonial first pitch and first kick.

Despite many on social media that urged Mayor Bonnie White to “recuse” herself from the ceremony, she, along with former mayor Jack Pratt and Cailloux Foundation representative Ben Modisett performed the ceremonial ribbon cutting.

Mayor White repeatedly voted against various measures related to this complex and was asked by former Mayor and Councilperson Stephen Fine to step aside to allow those that were actually in favor of the project to be the ones to cut the ribbon.

The new sports complex will have an economic impact of about $1 million annually. An estimated 3 visitors accompany each player for a standard baseball or soccer tournament, bringing visitors to Kerrville, heads in beds at hotels, filling chairs at restaurants, and a huge boost to local sales tax revenues.

This complex was built without a bond issue and without raising taxes. A large portion of the cost, including the land, was donated by the Cailloux Foundation. The Kerrville Economic Improvement Corporation (or EIC) provided the remainder of the funding through 4B sales tax revenues.

The city’s Parks Department will maintain the grounds and oversee the soccer field administration, while DBAT, a tenant within a large indoor practice facility, will coordinate the baseball tournaments.

Bill Blackburn enters race for Mayor of Kerrville

In a press release issued on January 12, Bill Blackburn announced his candidacy for Kerrville’s mayor. The election is scheduled for May 5, 2018. The incumbent mayor is Mrs. Bonnie White, who was elected in May 2016.

Mr. Blackburn has been a Kerrville resident since 1984, and is a retired pastor from Trinity Baptist Church of Kerrville. In the 30+ years he has lived in Kerrville, Blackburn has served in various leadership capacities including Habitat for Humanity, Christian Assistance Ministries (CAM), Christian Women’s Job Corps, Salvation Army, State Hospital, Community Foundation, and the City’s Comprehensive Plan Committee of 2002.

In his press release, Blackburn stated:

I believe Kerrville is at a critical time as we look to the future for our city… [Carrying out the mission of the new comprehensive plan] requires hard work, visionary leadership, and someone who is willing to bring people together to get things done and to see goals met. Therefore, I humbly announce my candidacy for the position of mayor of Kerrville. I look forward to leading Kerrville into the future, beginning in 2018.