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Baca, Gleason face off in city council place 5 runoff

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Editor's note: the Daily Record sent questionnaires to each of the candidates who advanced to a runoff election for San Marcos City Council Place 5: Omar Baca and Mark Gleason. This is a special election for a one-year seat. The runoff election takes place on Dec. 8 with early voting already underway.

Omar Baca

Q. What is your favorite part of San Marcos and how will you work to preserve that for generations to come?

Baca: San Marcos has so much to offer so choosing a favorite part is a difficult task, but I think the champion in our family's heart has got to be the river. Council has been taking steps toward reforming the criminal justice system despite differing opinions on how to do so. How would you like to see the council continue this work and

mend the divide? Baca: I absolutely support the direction we are heading in and I believe many leaders in law enforcement agree. This is an innovation and move towards modern policing.

Healing is hard in this climate as most political

Q. The San Marcos City speak is engineered for polarization and divisiveness. My promise is to not contribute to the vitriol and negotiate to calm and dialog. I think it is important for LEOs to see that this can grow them professionally as well as increase pathways for them. Emergency Service workers tend to be goal oriented personalities and I don't think any of them would say "No" if we asked them to help us build the most elite department in the region and then the State. We also have to allow quality data driven responses in good mixture between what the public wants and the commitments we ask of our Emergency workers.

Q. As a councilmember, how will you work to continue progress and maintain civility in spite of ideological disagreements among councilmembers?

Baca: My professional style is that of a dialog maker. I understand how to put dialog back on track if it goes off the rails. I am a trained crisis negotiator and I apply those principles to professional conversation. Be Honest, Be as kind as possible, Be a great Listener, Be Patient, and remember all assertiveness will be dependent on your level of integrity and forthrightness. One of my greatest skill sets is facilitating mutually successful (difficult) conversations. I do believe I will bring a high standard of decorum and professionalism that the people of San Marcos deserve.

The Daily Record also received questions from residents to ask the city council candidates.

Q. What Capital Improvement projects would you prioritize over the course of your term?

Baca: With the challenges of pandemic recovery capital improvements may be relegated to the most primal and basic needs. Infrastructure is the first need followed by transportation to support quality job bringers we need to help us improve quality of life for all of San Marcos.

Q. Support for Cite and Release as a concept has been expressed almost universally in Hays County and went into effect earlier this year. When the ordinance passed, the city council acknowledged the possibility of reviewing the progress of the ordinance and reassessing at a later date. Six months after its passage, do you support the enforcement mechanism for Cite and Release as provided for in the ordinance, or do you see reason to return to broader officer discretion by changing the policy to a resolution?

I support the ordinance but I also feel that we do not yet have buy in on the process. There are definite needs for improvement and I feel that a six-month review should happen when all the components are in alignment to give this it's best shot. The clock on that has not yet started. This is an innovation and it's installation has not yet met a good baseline for measurables to allow for process improvement that assures that this meets our cities needs.

I was very proud of council when they put this forward. It was bold and cutting edge (so much so that other cities call it "The San Marcos model"). I believe we are at the adolescence of our cities growth and that will take innovative leaders who are modern in approach and desire for the city.

Mark Gleason

Q. What is your favorite part of San Marcos and how will you work to preserve that for generations to come?

Gleason: My favorite part of San Marcos is the people who live here. We have great neighbors and citizens who treat each like family and truly do care about the community. There are many civic minded individuals and organizations who spend countless hours volunteering to keep the rivers and neighborhoods clean, preserve our history, promote our businesses, or help those in need. On council, I will work to protect our neighborhoods, preserve our history and heritage, promote more options for affordable places to live, and bring good jobs that help citizens earn a living with the opportunity to thrive.

Q. The San Marcos City Council has been taking steps toward reforming the criminal justice system despite differing opinions on how to do so. How will you work to continue this work and mend the divide?

Gleason: I will take the time to listen to concerns throughout the community. I am looking forward to working with Chief Standridge and our police officers as he works to bring accountability, transparency, and healing to our community. We have to work together and communicate with civility and respect. Compromise is necessary to find solutions that benefit the whole community.

Q. As a councilmember, how will you work to continue progress and maintain civility in spite of ideological disagreements among councilmembers?

Gleason: As current Chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, I have successfully led meetings both on the dais and virtually that have been productive and civil. I have a track record of positive communication with the community, on the dais, and in other boards and commissions that I have served on. I bring pragmatism, compromise, and common sense to each decision and vote that I have made on P&Z and will continue to do so if I have the honor of serving on city council.

The Daily Record also received questions from residents to ask the city council candidates.

Q. What Capital Improvement projects would you prioritize over the course of your term?

Gleason: I have been part of the Capital Improvement process for many years while on Planning and Zoning. I understand how vital and necessary these decisions are to our safety and quality of life. Many neighborhoods are sorely in need of drainage and infrastructure improvements. We have a robust Capital Improvement plan for the coming years that will provide upgrades throughout the city. It makes sense to prioritize completion of projects that have already been started to improve existing neighborhoods before breaking ground on more projects. I will be mindful of the possible negative impacts improvements can have during construction on the people that live in and travel throughout the city.

Q. Support for Cite and Release as a concept has been expressed almost universally in Hays County and went into effect earlier this year. When the ordinance passed, the city council acknowledged the possibility of reviewing the progress of the ordinance and reassessing at a later date. Six months after its passage, do you support the enforcement mechanism for Cite and Release as provided for in the ordinance, or do you see reason to return to broader officer discretion by changing the policy to a resolution

Gleason: I support an ordinance for small amounts of marijuana possession and driving while license invalid. I support a resolution to continue to encourage Cite and Release to be used with officer discretion as allowed by state law on a case by case basis for theft or property crimes. As these are not victimless crimes, they can disproportionately affect low income residents with possible severe negative impacts on someone’s business, ability to earn a living, or their way of life.

San Marcos Record

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