Two rivals are challenging two incumbents on the Taylor City Council in the May 5 election.
Real estate broker Gary Gola is running against Mayor Brandt Rydell for the District 3 seat, while retired electrician Mitchell Drummond is trying to replace Christopher Gonzales in the District 2 race.
Rydell, 47, is an attorney who acts as the assistant general counsel for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and has served two terms on the City Council. He was chosen by council members to be mayor. He said the biggest concern he’s heard from residents is that “impending growth and development will negatively affect the character and charm of our community and the quality of life of its residents.”
If re-elected, Rydell said he would work “with my fellow council members and city staff to update our development code to ensure that Taylor’s growth is smart, sensible and respectful of Taylor’s history and heritage.” He said his priorities also include addressing street and infrastructure needs and increasing economic vitality.
Rydell’s opponent, Gola, 54, said the biggest concern he’s heard from residents is “with the way things always seem to be done behind closed doors,” he said. “People try to get involved, and then their input is not heard.”
His priorities if elected include making the city more transparent in its day-to-day operations and offering a more “inclusive and accountable environment where more people will have a say in the direction that the city grows and in how the city is operated,” he said.
Gonzales, 37, is a manager for the Spectrum cable company and has served three terms on the City Council. He said the most recent concern he has heard from residents is about the city government’s transparency, including the “city not having accurate information on council meeting items and not planning financially for the future of Taylor.” Residents also are concerned about streets, he said.
If re-elected, Gonzales said he would “continue to make the best fiscally responsible decisions on all items.” His other priorities include focusing on the city’s infrastructure needs, streets, economic development, and community and neighborhood safety.
Gonzales’ opponent, Drummond, is retired from a career as an electrician and control programmer at the Sandow Power Plant in Rockdale.
“Almost anyone you ask in Taylor will tell you the streets are awful,” Drummond, 59, said. “My goal is to grow our economy and tax base and use the increase to keep our taxes manageable while improving our streets, water and wastewater structure.”
His other priorities if elected include bringing more business to the city and making neighborhoods and downtown “more inviting to families with walkable streets, parks, green spaces and art,” he said.
ABOUT THE CANDIDATES
• Gary Gola, 54, is a real estate broker. He has a bachelor’s degree in business management from Texas State University.
Civic participation: He is on the Taylor Parks and Recreation Board and the Taylor Rotary Club Board. He has served on the Taylor Chamber of Commerce Street Committee, the Taylor Housing Authority Revitalization Committee and the Taylor Little League Board. Gola volunteers for Meals on Wheels and has coached Little League softball teams and YMCA volleyball teams. Gola unsuccessfully ran for the Taylor City Council in 2017.
• Brandt Rydell, 47, is an attorney who acts as the assistant general counsel for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. He has a bachelor’s degree in history and English from the University of Arkansas.
Civic participation: He is on the executive committee of the Capital Area Council of Governments and has served on the Taylor Planning and Zoning Commission. He has volunteered for Meals on Wheels, been a mentor in Taylor elementary schools and coached in the Taylor youth basketball league.
• Mitchell Drummond, 59 is retired from a career as an electrician and programmer with the Sandow Power Plant in Rockdale. He has an associate degree in general studies from Temple College.
Civic participation: He is a member of Keep Taylor Beautiful and helped open its recycling center. He is a volunteer first aid manager at the Old Settler’s Music Fest and has been a volunteer with the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts.
• Christopher Gonzales, 37, is an operations manager for Spectrum and has an associate degree in business administration from Temple College. He is also a Marine veteran.
Civic participation: He is a member of the Taylor School District’s Campus and District Committee. He has served as a representative on the Capital Area Council of Governments and been a member of the Taylor School District’s Community Assets Program Board. Gonzales has been a Little League coach, a Meals on Wheels volunteer and a volunteer for the Taylor School District’s Midnight Basketball program.
ABOUT THE JOB
The Taylor City Council sets the property tax rate and policies, and makes the spending decisions affecting the police and fire departments, permitting and code enforcement, and parks and libraries, among other city services. Council members are not paid and serve three-year terms.