Buda residents to choose three new City Council members

With a fierce debate roaring on social media about two controversial charter amendment proposals in Buda — whether to fluoridate the city’s water and whether to adopt geographic districts for the City Council seats — the race for three new council members has been somewhat overshadowed.

But after Tuesday’s election, half the members of City Council will have changed and a new mayor will be at the helm.

With Place 4 Council Member George Haehn running for mayor unopposed and two longtime council members announcing they would not run for re-election, voters will decide how to fill three seats.

The contenders are mainly newcomers with the exception of Jose Montoya, a retired state employee who served on the council in Place 3 from 2012 to 2015. Montoya ran for re-election in 2015 and lost to Council Member David Nuckels.

In Place 4, Montoya will face Paul Daugereau, a public sector manager at Waste Management, Inc. Evan Ture, who does sales and marketing for an energy storage company, is running unopposed for Place 6.

Clark Beach, a sound and video designer, and Remy Fallon, a co-owner and manager of Helen’s Casa Alde, will compete for the Place 5 seat that Eileen Altmiller is leaving.

All candidates said addressing infrastructure needs are their top priority, from completing work on 2014 bond proposition projects to increasing public safety funding.

Montoya said he decided to run again because he wanted to bring his institutional knowledge as well as increase Hispanic representation on the council.

“The population of Buda is 35 percent Hispanic,” Montoya said. “There’s no representation for that segment of the population.”

Beach said he began attending council meetings and joined the Planning and Zoning Commission in the last year, and that involvement inspired him to do more and run for council.

“I have seen the City Council deal with complex issues over the last year and know what challenges are ahead,” he said.

Fallon, who is raising fourth-generation Buda residents, said she was inspired to run by her family’s connection to the city.

“The town is growing at an exponential rate, and I want to help guarantee that it remains an area where my children will also choose to settle down,” she said.

Daugereau also mentioned family, saying he wants to positively impact the city for his two daughters. He said he felt his experience as a municipal contract manager would provide a helpful background in serving on the council.

“I bring a unique understanding of best practices in city policy and procurement to the Buda City Council,” he said.

The candidates diverged on the issue of whether to move from at-large council members to geographic districts, however.

The proposition calls for two phases: an initial phase to move half the council to geographic districts in 2018 and then complete the shift when the city population reaches 25,000. Buda’s population was 15,023 as of the Census Bureau’s 2016 estimates.

Montoya said the proposal will improve representation, pointing out that the majority of council members currently live in west Buda. Fallon agreed and said the slow transition is the best option for proper representation.

But Daugereau said the city is not large enough yet and worries that not enough candidates would be willing to run. Similarly, Beach said he doesn’t feel geographic districts are necessary until the city reaches a population of 25,000.

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