Campaign spending and possibly becoming a home-rule city were two topics tackled by Dripping Springs candidates vying for three city council seats during a forum Sunday.
The forum, held at Church of the Springs, featured incumbent council members Santos Alba, Charles Busbey and Mayor Pro-Tem Bill Foulds, and challengers Taline Manassian and Harrison Thomas Schultz. Candidate William Travis Crow did not attend.
Candidates shared their opinion on moving forward with an election to possibly become a home-rule city when the population reached 5,000.
“There are some benefits that come with it, and there are some disadvantages that come with it,” Foulds said. “I want to look at it very closely.”
Foulds said ETJ residents could have concerns as annexation imposes added taxes and restrictions.
“It could be something that people in our ETJ would be very concerned about because at that point you can be forced annexation,” Foulds said. “I would like to get input from people out in ETJ on how they feel about it.”
Busbey said city council would have address numerous issues and consider becoming a home-rule city.
“As soon we get to 5,000 residents, I’m all in favor of having an election for the citizens to vote to decide whether or not we want to switch from a general law city to a home-rule city … I think it’s in the community’s best interest.”
Harrison Thomas Schultz, city council candidate
Schultz said he favors promoting multiple public forums on the pros and cons of annexation, which he believes the current city council has failed at.
Taline Manassian said the issue should be considered slowly and thoughtfully.
“Whether we become a home-rule city is something we need to look at very closely,” Manassian said. “We have to be careful in approaching that issue because if it’s rejected there’s some time limitation on when we can approach it again.”
That could be a big issue as the city grows, Manassian said.
The issue of campaign finances and candidates’ qualifications came up during closing remarks.
Busbey said he spent less than $500 on his campaign, while some candidates spent “considerably more” and received donations from ETJ residents ineligible to vote.
“I’m not implying there’s anything illegal because it isn’t,” Busbey said. “Perhaps it’s an ethical thing.”
Manassian said she disagrees with the implication ETJ residents shouldn’t be involved in the election.
“The ETJ is affected by this council and can’t vote,” Manassian said. “That is how they participate, by contributing to the election.”