The Kyle City Council made one reappointment and added two new members to the Planning & Zoning Commission at its Sept. 17 meeting. However, the nomination of a third new member was not approved.
Paul Scheibmeir was re-appointed to Seat 1. New appointees are Priscilla Harrell, Seat 3 and Rebecca Yost, seat 7.
The nomination of Alex Guerra to Seat 5 was voted down. He is related to the wife of District 5 Council member Rich Koch, who recused himself from the vote.
Council members Alex Villalobos, District 4, and Daphne Tenorio, District 6, both expressed concerns about the family relationship. “That is concerning to me,” Villalobos said. “It’s a perception issue,” Tenorio said.
Mayor Travis Mitchell didn’t share their concerns. “No one should be excluded just because they are related to someone,” he said, later confirming with city attorney that there would be nothing illegal about the appointment of Guerra.
“The overwhelming conclusion is he was deeply qualified … he was clearly head and shoulders above in terms of his knowledge of the comprehensive plan and the planning process,” Mitchell said. “I don’t think this council should try to punish him.”
Tenorio also questioned who would be nominated for the position once Guerro was voted down. She referred to “really strong” candidates who had previously applied for the commission and asked whether any of those had been considered for the newly-vacant spots.
Planning and Community Director Howard Koontz, who brought the list of applicants to the council for approval, said only the “last list” was looked at. Tenorio countered that she thought those lists of previous applicants would still be active. “I’d like to know what the actual policy is going to be,” she said.
Koontz said what usually happens is that the city tries to find a place for previous applicants on some other of the city’s boards or commissions.
Mayor Pro Tem Dex Ellison noted that the choices were made against a background of a “joyful position.” “Thank you for putting yourselves out there,” he said.
Villalobos said the new appointments give the council the chance to “work with some new people and be able to plan our future.”
There are seven members of the Planning & Zoning Commission and they each serve for two years without compensation. All the newly named members will serve through Sept. 30, 2021.