By Samantha Smith
Business and affordable housing were two of many topics addressed at Monday’s Buda City Council candidate debate held by the Buda Area Chamber of Commerce.
The two-hour roundtable style debate featured candidates John Hatch, Theo Kosub and Lee Urbanovsky, who are running for the Place 1 seat. Monday’s debate also featured the race for the Place 2 seat between incumbent Wiley Hopkins and candidate Jeffrey Morales.
When asked what would their first priority be, should they be elected, Urbanovsky said he would look at all the construction and design plans for the bond packages to verify that they are all on schedule and on budget.
Kosub said he would first address transportation issues, then the bond projects. Kosub added he would look into safer school corridors. Hatch said his first action would be to create a Neighborhood Advisory Council, which would give the city council direct, formal interaction with Buda neighborhoods.
The candidates were all in support of bringing small businesses to Buda and agreed that Buda is business friendly.
But a point of contention among the candidates arose when the moderators mentioned the possibility of rejoining the Greater San Marcos Partnership (GSMP).
Urbanovsky supported the city rejoining the partnership and said it’s the “best resource we have to keep in touch with nearby governing bodies.”
Kosub chose not to answer the question due to lack of information on the topic, while Hatch said he would be reticent to rejoin the GSMP due to the competition among members.
The topic of affordable housing was an additional point of contention among the candidates.
Hatch said Buda was “never intended to be an over $300,000 community,” but that he was not in favor of supporting subsidized housing options, such as Section 8. He said that renting should not be the only option and seniors needed more housing options.
Urbanovsky said that housing costs were determined by supply and demand. Kosub said he believed in a free market, but he would not support subsidized housing, as he believes housing is already affordable in Buda.
The candidates were also posed with a difficult question from the audience about the issue of saving the heritage trees in Buda.
All three candidates were in favor of saving the heritage trees, although Kosub and Hatch were in favor of restricting the amount of money that could go toward preserving one.
Morales said his first action, if elected, would be to meet with council members and being brought up to speed on current projects.
Hopkins answered that he would continue to “seek out long term water supplies” while also working on infrastructure upgrades.
Both encouraged more small business growth in Buda, but dissented over a question on the city possibly rejoining the Greater San Marcos Partnership.
Morales declined to answer the question and said he would need more background information on the topic as well as citizen input before making a decision.
Hopkins said that he would not support rejoining the GSMP because it was “named wrong.”
“It’s all about San Marcos and Buda felt like a stepchild. The Economic Development Corporation has been successful without the GSMP, “ Hopkins said.
Both candidates agreed that Buda’s park system is essential to the future of its residents.
Morales said Buda needed to expand its park services to include a city pool, more greenery and possibly a golf course. Hopkins stood by the current city council’s stewardship of parkland.
On the topic of affordable housing, Hopkins said it’s “good public policy to offer good housing for everybody.”
Morales said he believed in affordability for senior citizen housing.
Both candidates favored saving heritage trees, but Morales said he would restrict funds for preservation.
In his closing statement, Morales said he was not going to play political games and would be the right choice for the job because he isn’t a politician.
Incumbent Hopkins emphasized his experience in the position citing his record of completed projects from his 45 months on the dais as support.