Two candidates are vying for a two-year term as Mayor of the Village of Salado: Hans Fields, whose name appears on the ballot, and Skip Blancett, who is a write-in candidate.
We asked each of them the following questions:
Question 1: In the past two years, what has been the best thing to happen to the Village of Salado that can be attributed in any part to the local government? What has been the worst thing to happen in the past two years attributed to local government? What would you do to correct the latter? (150 words)
Question 2: What is your stance on The Sanctuary and Stagecoach Inn and other economic development efforts within and outside of the Village? What can or should be done to improve the tourism industry in Salado? (150 words)
1. The Best: Three roads have been resurfaced and we’re not broke (yet), in spite of our taxes tripling, our reserves being depleted, our Village staff payroll of nearly $250,000, our sewer debt of $8.25m with no sewer, no Stagecoach Inn, no improvements to Main Street, and Sanctuary remaining an unfulfilled fantasy.
The Worst: The growing distrust of our government over secrecy and lack of transparency. Yes there have been rosy rhetorical blogs and town halls to beat up on TXDOT, but more importantly, there have been an unprecedented number of executive sessions, 7 a.m. meetings and late night decisions made to empty rooms, groups going to Austin to beg for money and failing to engage public input in the process, and overruling not only the people’s will, but the decisions of their own self appointed boards.
Question 2: Salado is a jewel in spite of our challenges. Our first economic priority must be to take Main Street off life-support. The reopening of the Stagecoach is one key that unlocks Salado’s future success. Long term development will take years, decades in the case of the Sanctuary.
If there is a market, developers will come. Some already are here. That doesn’t mean we throw 45 years of incentives at them. If developers think we appear so desperate that we will do anything to seal the deal (e.g. Sanctuary), they will demand it.
If I am elected, we will grow smart, not fast. We will retain the history and beauty that belongs to this wonderful community. We must deliver on our end with whatever legally enforceable obligations that have been signed by the current administration, but I will never again put the village in the position to be held hostage to developer demands.
Question 1: The best was the election of outstanding Aldermen. Without them, these complicated, time-sensitive issues could not be accomplished: Stagecoach, Sanctuary, Sewer Bond, Sewer, Road Repair, Construction Progress, Chamber-Village Partnership, Re-writing Ordinances, Purple Heart City Selection, CTCOG’s appointment to their Executive Director’s Board, weekly communication, cleaning low water crossing, 2 grants totaling $1.3 million, Historic District protection, outstanding/working relationships with Federal, State, and County Officials — just to name a few.
No other Aldermen have met such demanding issues. No complaining or quitting; they just did it — for no pay, recognition, or perks.
Additionally, the Citizens and Business Owners working together – Salado strong. Their commitment and dedication are determining Salado’s present/future.
Considering issues, there is no “worst-thing.” We walked through the fire and became stronger; more resilient. We are a model for small Villages/towns.
Disappointment: Ordinances could not be written/re-written quickly. Ordinances are essential and must be right.
Question 2: Sanctuary was a necessity for Salado’s future. As a Sanctuary MUD, Salado’s growth would cease. Surrounded by housing developments that will not annex, Killeen pushing West, Belton at Amity Road, Temple marching east, and Jarrell saying they want everything on I-35 north; who would pay for Salado’s infrastructure – roads, improvements, lights, parks, etc.?
Sanctuary, with water and sewer, would be a town keeping all property and sales taxes; building whatever /wherever without Salado’s voice; and offering conveniences that present/future generations are accustomed. What would be Salado’s future?
Stagecoach negotiations are in the final stages. No secrets; from the beginning, Stagecoach requested confidentiality.
Serious dialogue with Developers is happening. Salado will grow regardless; the Village government must have an active voice.
Tourism is evolving with new events, social media, creative marketing, construction ending and an energetic Chamber. Salado will prosper.
Answering questions fully is difficult. There is a 300-word limit for all questions.