SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — The streets of San Marcos still look like the election season rather than the holiday season. For months, campaign signs have lined neighborhood sidewalks. The runoff election between council members and the candidates for mayor will finally come to a close after the final election day next Tuesday.
Ruben Becerra and John Thomaides are both in the runoff to become mayor of San Marcos. It’s clear they both love the city, but their view on its future is what’s created a heated election.
Thomaides says his focus will be on managing the growth and protecting neighborhoods.
“The explosive growth that has been happening, it’s been happening for four or five years, we’re all feeling the effects of it with traffic, congestion and housing and the river. The core values that I am going to bring is protecting the neighborhoods, making sure the river is clean and healthy, making sure that that growth is done in a smart way so that it improves the lives of our citizens, but doesn’t harm the things we really care about,” said Thomaides.
Becerra says he wants to beautify the city and promote communication between leading organizations.
“I want to open the communication paths immediately between the organizations and the groups of people that feel alienated. And in my very short list, I want to get a can of paint myself and end back-in parking as quickly as possible downtown. I don’t have a problem with back-in parking, but a lot of our community does and so I want to fix it,” Becerra said. “I want to get the fences off that cover our river. One of the most pressing things I want to do is help our community look better. Because I feel like if we look better, it could help us to start feeling better.”
When it comes to the most controversial topics in San Marcos like the construction of the Woods Apartments, the two are ready to defend their side. At the beginning of this year, scientists determined that the apartments intensified last year’s flooding. Thomaides was on the council at the time, he voted against the construction.
“I absolutely oppose The Woods. I led the effort on the council and I helped lead the effort in the community against the Woods Apartments and I was outvoted on the council,” said Thomaides. “It was the worst development decision the city has ever made, and I think that has been proven time and again from a human standpoint and as a scientific standpoint as well. It made the flooding worse in our most vulnerable neighborhoods.”
As a citizen, Becerra spoke out in favor of the project, but says the project he spoke on is not what stands there today.
“Ideally, truthfully, I was all about us buying it as a city and having it be a green space, the whole thing for us. That was my truest and highest intent and goal for it,” said Becerra. “The lesson learned for me was, trust but verify first of all. But, again, the paid professionals were supposed to make sure that would happen, including the council.”
On other issues like the development of a third HEB at the corner of Hunter and Wonder World, Thomaides voted in favor while Becerra stands strongly against.
“All the evidence, all the facts show that the development was safe. It was safe for our neighbors; it was safe for our downstream neighborhoods,” said Thomaides.
“I think HEB is a great steward in our community and they do great things in our community and everywhere else, I just strongly discourage the use of that location for anything like that,” said Becerra.
Two San Marcos council positions are also still up for grabs. For place 2, voters can choose between Saul Gonzales and Shane Scott. And for place 3, Ed Mihalkanin and Jason Montgomery.
The last day to vote is Dec. 13, you can find your polling location here.