Vote 2020: Kyle mayoral candidates share differences in Q&A
Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell is facing three challengers in this November's election: David Abdel, Peter Parcher and Linda Tenorio.
A 39-year-old husband, father and public school educator, Abdel is running for his first elected office.
Turning 36-years-old this October, Mitchell is a small business owner, and the mayoral incumbent. He has served on Kyle City Council since 2016.
As a 57-year-old painter by trade, Parcher is a former Canadian Armed Forces Communications Specialist, business owner, Texas State Guard volunteer. He has lived in Kyle for over 14 years.
A resident of Kyle for over 50 years, Tenorio has previously served on city council from 2004 to 2007, and currently serves on the Hays County Advisory Board for Sheriff Gary Cutler.
Why are you running for office?
Abdel: My family recently purchased a home in Kyle after renting for a few years, and as we are putting down roots, I have some real concerns about the direction our town is heading. I feel like we are moving rapidly away from a place that supports family and community, away from affordability and away from opportunity. I would like to bring family time back to our family town.
Mitchell: Kyle is home. Kyle is changing. Every day more people move to our city for a variety of reasons. This creates challenges. City council is working very hard to keep up with growth while balancing the tax rate. Our new budget is $134 million, and of that, $91 million is to be spent on infrastructure, including a new wastewater treatment plant, a major new water source, more road improvements and two new cash-funded public parks. We have accomplished this because we are requiring more from the development community than ever before if they wish to come to our city. We have also successfully recruited over $100 million of new commercial development which has helped us diversify the tax base. Since I was elected, we have lowered the property tax rate in Kyle by more than 11%, which leads all of Hays County and nearly all of the Austin region.”
Parcher: I feel residents of Kyle are very often intentionally left out of the city's affairs and discouraged from participating in various ways. It is my belief that all residents should be involved, and elected officials of city government are there to represent them, not govern them. That is what I will do.
Tenorio: I am candidate for office because I feel we need to change the way things are going.
Q. What are the most important issues currently facing Kyle?
Abdel: Our cost of living is too high. Our growth has not been managed well. Our economic development is too heavily focused in one area and the concerns of the neighbors are not addressed or accounted for.
Mitchell: In the early years of Kyle’s growth, we over-relied on entry-level single family detached subdivisions to fund city operations. As a result, these subdivisions are being forced to carry more of the city’s budget load than they should. My primary focus the last four and a half years has been to help bring new private commercial projects to the city. This has led to a renaissance of commercial investment in Kyle. We need to keep this up. These new commercial properties generate far more in tax revenue than they cost in city services. They employ our residents. They are not a burden on the schools but in fact pay large sums of money to the school district. Significant commercial investment is how we diversify our tax base which puts downward pressure on the property tax rate and simultaneously gives us the resources to increase our quality of life.
Parcher: Currently, a lack of confidence in our city council, extremely high tax bills, fees and surcharges, our sorely dilapidated and lacking infrastructure and the laser point focus on one area of our city for business development while neglecting the rest of city. In the short term, COVID-19 response management, unemployment and loss of businesses.
Tenorio: The wasteful spending, high water rates and property taxes which is a big burden to families. But the most important issue facing Kyle is traffic; we spend a lot of time just getting out of Kyle.
What is your position on the two major proposed ballot propositions, A and B?
Abdel: I am against both ballot propositions. Not the needs addressed in them, but the plans themselves. We need to support our police department and emergency services as best we can, but this building goes far beyond what is needed, and is not fiscally responsible. The uptown complex needs to be re-examined and pouring $7 million into a park, during an economic crisis where many people cannot afford to pay their bills for the foreseeable future, is simply irresponsible.
Mitchell: As mayor, per state law, I am not allowed to advocate for or against the bond. That said, I would recommend anyone interested to visit cityofkyle.com/bond to learn more.
Parcher: While I do not like the cost, I will be voting yes on proposition A as it is needed now for our security and well being. However, I will be voting no on proposition B. As a veteran, it would be nice to build something like this but the cost is simply not feasible at this time.
Tenorio: The police department needs a new building, however I hear from the citizens that they were not given a choice. They think $37 million at this time is not the time. Proposition B is not a priority.
During this pandemic, what do you think would be the best plan for combating active cases while also operating the city’s day-to-day?
Abdel: Following CDC guidelines. We can shop, we can eat, but we need to do it safely, maintaining capacity restrictions when the Governor provides them and maintaining social distancing.
Mitchell: Kyle has been both fortunate and unfortunate during the pandemic. Weare fortunate in that we have one of the youngest median ages of any city in the region, meaning we are statistically less likely to have COVID-19 cases prove fatal. The data has born that out. We are unfortunate in that we are a very active community with lots of dual-income homes and school-age children. This makes the spread of the disease easy to occur. The numbers have also born that out. I am personally happy with how our city is situated. Unemployment has dropped from over 13% in April to around 5% in September. Sales tax has rebounded to pre-COVID projections meaning many of our businesses are staying on their feet. But not everyone has fared well. For businesses, we should continue to take advantage of federal, state and city resources to provide financial assistance when appropriate. For our unemployed, we should continue to take advantage of the programs available to provide financial and work placement assistance. And for our elderly and immune-compromised, we should continue striving to follow CDC and state guidelines on masks and social distancing. With all of that said, one thing I will add; we should not live in fear of the disease. It’s not going anywhere anytime soon. So long as we take care of each other and focus on loving our neighbor, there is still a lot of life to live and I encourage all of our residents to not be afraid.
Parcher: As our active cases decrease, the threat of the virus and its affects on our residents remains. As has been evidenced in so many areas, a resurgence can happen quickly. Right now, the city needs to continue with the preventive measures in place and be ready to implement new measures until such time as a vaccine that is effective against all known strains is distributed.
Tenorio: We need to follow the guidelines according to Governor Gregg Abbot. We would do what is appropriate and the most efficient manner to service the citizens while keeping our city staff safe.
If elected, what would be your first steps in council for Kyle’s future?
Abdel: I will seek to cut spending, which will allow us to lower taxes and still operate the city, thus putting more money back in local families’ hands. Next, grow our sales tax revenue by seeking to create a destination worthy small business corridor so that local entrepreneurs can open businesses and begin to generate income, neighbors will have a place to go in town to spend their time, energy and money, and people from out of town will come to Kyle to spend theirs.
Mitchell: I would not have first steps but continued steps in downtown revitalization by continuing the city square beautification plan and the construction the newbuilding at 104 S Burleson Street, city infrastructure by ensuring Post Road is completed and continuing on the Alliance Water Authority Board.”
Parcher: With the help of council and residents, I will ask that the Rules of Council are amended so that full disclosure is provided to residents as it is permitted by law and statute. The residents should be the ones deciding our city's future, not the select few. With the support of council and residents, I will instruct city staff to search out ways to help our existing businesses during this economic downturn in order to keep jobs and residents in Kyle. I will ask residents and council to support slowing down the rapid growth we are experiencing until such time as our infrastructure is better able to sustain the growth. I will ask council and residents to help stabilize our tax costs and the rise of property values through better community planning and reasonable new business incentives. In order to do that, we must demonstrate to new business prospects that, as a city, we support our local businesses. That is crucial to new companies looking at our city.
Tenorio: My first step for Kyle future would be set priorities, set goals and get citizen input.
How do you think you differ from the other candidates running for mayor?
Abdel: Vision. We know what the current mayor envisions for Kyle, we've seen it over the last 3 years. The other candidates have stressed that they will listen to the people, but haven’t offered up clear ideas for Kyle. I have. While a cornerstone of my campaign has always been collaboration with all of the neighbors here in Kyle, I’ve also offered up my take on what I would like to see Kyle become.
Mitchell: I have the experience necessary to deliver the projects in the budget. We just completed our 8th major city road project since 2016 with total investments of more than $39 million. This is a city record for road repairs, and while some were logistically quite challenging, we persevered and completed every project. We now have an even greater load of capital projects to deliver. I will commit to seeing them completed on time and on budget.
Parcher: “I have a mind set that is all inclusive. I want to renew Kyle's sense of community in ways that will suit our current growth and future growth. I believe an elected official must represent all residents. I believe businesses need to be spread throughout our city and not in specific areas or corridors, so that it can best support our population and each other. I have outlined many specific proposals and have asked residents to improve them and submit their own. I am realistic, objective and I have varied leadership experience in many different professions, settings and geographical locations, which provides a unique perspective with regard to being part of a team, planning and problem solving.”
Tenorio: I have lived in Kyle all my adult life. I know Kyle very well and the needs of the citizens.
Why should Kyle residents vote for you?
Abdel: I represent a change. If you would like to see Kyle more focused on quality of life, providing you more than just a bed to sleep in and a commute to work, I believe I am your candidate. If you want more to do with your free time; places to go, eat and shop that aren't fast food, big box retail, or out of town, I’m your candidate. If you'd like to make Kyle more affordable for everyone in it, I’m your candidate. If you would like to see responsibility, transparency and collaboration in city hall, I’m your candidate. If you elect me your mayor, I will work to bring equitable quality of life to Kyle.
Mitchell: Because most everyone in our city understands that growth in Austin suburbs won’t go away whether we want it to or not. I am focused on steering that growth away from areas of the city where our infrastructure is not ready. I am focused on cultivating a diverse tax base with restaurants, boutique retail, light industrial, vertical Class A office and vibrant mixed-use districts. These are the development patterns we need to see if we ever want to escape the mentality that we are just a bedroom community lost in the sea of endless sprawl.
Parcher: I will serve the residents of Kyle as their representative on council. With the help of council and residents, I will work to amend ordinances, Rules of Council and the City Charter to ensure transparency, clarity and integrity in all proceedings. I will ensure residents are always informed and part of the process. I will do my best to ensure all of Kyle benefits from the city’s policies and endeavors. As Mayor, I will not govern. I will serve. I will work for the residents.
Tenorio: I care about Kyle, I want families to be proud to live here. We welcome new families and I like to be business friendly. Things cannot change overnight, but my vision would be a good infrastructure plan and restaurants where families would not have to go out of Kyle for dining.