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Kyle Chamber hosts city council candidate forum

By Brittany Anderson

KYLE — The 2022 election is right around the corner, and the Kyle Area Chamber of Commerce wants to make sure residents are informed about who is on the ballot. 

Seven of the eight Kyle residents running for Kyle City Council attended a candidate forum on Sept. 27, held during the Chamber’s monthly luncheon. Mayor Pro Tem Robert Rizo, who is running for re-election, was not in attendance due to a death in the family. 

On the ballot for Place 1 are Marina Tupikov, Neal Breen, Marc McKinney, Amanda Stark, Nick Madsen and Bear Heiser. On the ballot for Place 3 are Miguel A. Zuniga and incumbent Robert Rizo. 

Candidates were given the opportunity to introduce themselves, answer three questions and provide a closing statement. Linda Calvert with the League of Women Voters served as moderator. 

Tupikov, a native of Ukraine who has lived in Kyle for eight years, holds multiple science degrees and works for Hays CISD as a science coordinator. She says she has a very scientific and analytical mind, and that being born and raised through corrupt government systems in Ukraine was one reason she has chosen to run. 

“I want to make sure to provide as much as I can to my city, my home, to ensure that doesn’t happen. I don’t think it will, but when you experience it, it kind of becomes a little more real,” Tupikov said. 

Some of Tupikov’s goals if elected include prioritizing Kyle’s quality of life through things like parks, playgrounds, small businesses and family dining, addressing transportation infrastructure, and reducing the burden of property taxes for residents, which will “take the involvement of businesses, the school district, developments and residents.” Tupikov also wants to provide the Kyle Area Senior Zone (KASZ) with more support. 

Breen has lived in Texas for five years and runs a business in downtown Austin, saying that he has had “many rough encounters” with Austin City Council and has “seen firsthand” the damage that can be done by poor planning. 

Some of Breen’s goals if elected include addressing transportation infrastructure and housing as the cost of living rises, making it easier for current residents to continue to live here through things like homestead exemptions, and help more small businesses come in. 

“I’d like to encourage the budding business men and women to pursue their dreams and add to the charm of Kyle,” Breen said. 

McKinney is a finance director and has worked in Kyle for a decade, noting he has seen and experienced the city’s tremendous growth. With a head for numbers, and coming from a family with small business backgrounds, these qualifications and experiences inspired McKinney to run. 

“When I’m looking over a lot of budgets and things like that, I’m looking at the details and making sure they make sense. I want to make sure we’re spending our tax dollars in a way that benefits all of Kyle,” McKinney said. 

Some of McKinney’s goals if elected include funding for first responders to ensure they are staffed and can operate efficiently, ensuring infrastructure — such as roads and the local water supply — is maintained properly, and continuing the mission of making Kyle a “live, work, play” environment. 

Stark has volunteered with the city in various capacities. She is in her third term as chairperson for the Kyle Parks and Recreation board, has held a chair position for her Steeplechase neighborhood group for six years and previously joined the Kyle Leadership Academy and Kyle Citizens Police Academy. With four children who have gone through Hays CISD schools, she has also been active in the district’s various events and activities.

Some of Stark’s goals if elected include addressing transportation and water infrastructure, revitalizing downtown and making Kyle a “destination town” through more accessibility and local businesses, and providing more quality housing as the population grows. 

“I’m sympathetic to the families who have lived in Kyle for generations. … but also acknowledge the need for economic growth. I promise to do everything in my power to preserve this city and its foundation,” Stark said. 

Madsen served in the Army and is now an attorney and active Chamber member, saying that these experiences will speak to what he will be able to accomplish on the council. 

“If you vote for me, you’re not voting for what you think I’ll do, you’ll vote knowing that I have done these things in the past, have been committed to the community in the past, and that you can be confident in what I will do for the future,” Madsen said. 

Some of Madsen’s goals if elected include addressing transportation infrastructure as it relates to roads, maximizing traffic flow and utilizing bonds, ensuring there is structure to the city’s growth by creating development plans that encourage residents to stay and lets people compete fairly and the market regulate, and empowering first responders and safety initiatives to keep Kyle family-friendly. 

Heiser is a small business owner in Kyle with two children who attend Hays CISD schools. As a small business consultant with a focus in sales and marketing, he said he understands the challenges small businesses face. 

“We have some very polarized national politics that we have to live with every single day, [but]local government does not have to function that way,” Heiser said.

Some of Heiser’s goals if elected include addressing the “historical imbalance” of the infrastructure gap that exists in Kyle, primarily the east side vs. west side, and leveling the playing field for small businesses vs. chains to lay a better foundation for small businesses to succeed and be supported. 

Zuniga is a Hays High School graduate and holds a doctorate in organic chemistry. Over the past couple of decades, his time in research and development has advanced innovative medical technology. On top of working in startup companies, he has also worked in the nonprofit and private sectors. He serves on the executive board at Simon Middle School and has been a safety advocate in his neighborhood. 

“When I grew up around this community, it was always very welcoming, very compassionate, and helpful. That left a huge inspiration when I was a child. … I’m running for city council because I want to be a voice to help our residents, to inspire to build relationships within our community,” Zuniga said. 

Some of Zuniga’s goals if elected include addressing and investing in infrastructure that will help integrate the community, revitalizing downtown and working with incentives to give to developers for projects that will add value to the community, benefit residents and create amenities for everybody, saying he wants to diversify and “build in every direction of the city.” 

Early voting begins on Oct. 24. Election day will be Nov. 8. A full list of early voting and voting day locations, days and times can be found at www.cityofkyle.com/cityadministration/2022-election-information. 

About Author

Brittany Anderson graduated from Texas State University in August 2020 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She previously worked at KTSW 89.9, Texas State University's radio station, for nearly two years in the web content department as a writer and assistant manager. She has reported for the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch since July 2021.

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