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The Lead April 6, 2022: Kerrville City Council forum takes a turn when mayoral candidate chat

5 of the 6 candidates show up for a forum Tuesday night, and the mayoral race proves to be one with intrigue.

Good morning, Kerr County!

Did everyone enjoy yesterday's nice preview of summer? Today will be considerably nicer with highs in the 70s. But here's the but. It's going to be windy and we're set for another full day of a red-flag warning. We can expect dangerous fire weather through the rest of the week.

On today's The Lead Live!

It's Wonderful Wednesday with Rachel Fitch, who will discuss how to buy a knife. In reality, these conversations head into many directions, and we can expect a robust conversation today! Join us at 9 a.m.

Today's newsletter is sponsored by:

Plan out your day!

Today's events

  • Job Fair — Kerrville Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, 12-3 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. Information: The Details: The Kroc has 18 positions open, and they're looking for help immediately. Bring your resume and a photo I.D.
  • KACC Exhibits — Kerr Arts and Cultural Center, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Information: The details: Three exhibits are running at KACC through April 16. The Hill Country Youth Art Exhibit; Kerrville 1940-1960, a photographic history of the community sponsored by the Kerr County Historical Commission; Passion Project: Our contributions to the world, a collection of work from Schreiner University, senior art students.
  • Heaven's Declare Art Exhibition — Museum of Western Art, 10 a.m. Information: The details: Featuring works by renowned artists who celebrate the heavens. The exhibition will feature works by Phil Bob Borman, G. Russell Case, Tim Newton, Laurel Daniel, Linda Glover Gooch, David Griffin, David Grossman, Michael Magrin, Denise LaRue Mahlke, Phil Starke and John Taft. Check out our story about our five favorite things to see at the museum:
  • The Fiber Show and Sale — Hill Country Arts Foundation, Ingram, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday-Friday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Information: The details: An exhibit of fiber art by artists from across Texas.
  • EduScape Talk and Tour — Riverside Nature Center, 10:30 a.m. Information: The details: The UGRA EduScape is an award-winning demonstration garden that contains numerous examples of water conservation and stormwater detention practices that you can incorporate into your landscaping. The EduScape Talk & Tour will feature presentations by leading experts, followed by a tour of the EduScape.
  • Friends of the Library Book Sale — Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, 1-3 p.m. Information: The details: Looking for a great read? Or better yet, come down and support the work of Friends of the Library. Maybe find a banned book? That sounds like a fun day to us.
  • Live music by Tom Prasada-Rao — Schreiner University, Junkin Campus Ministry Center, 7 p.m. Information: Dr. William Davis, Dean of Faculty, at or 830-792-7415. The details: This unique event presents an intimate conversation with a professional musician about his life, songs, and musical process. Music and Conversation feature audience participation and great original songs as illustrations. Tom Prasada-Rao is a musician's musician – an unassuming presence on the folk scene since the early nineties. His voice belies his musicianship and his extraordinary songs. From Rishi's Garden with its homage to Ravi Shankar to the groove of Sleeping Beauty, Tom's music is melodic, ambitious and reverent.

Don't forget about our featured Arcadia Live event!

Montopolis, The Living Coast

8 p.m. Friday

  • A harmonious combination but more so an experience, Montopolis returns to our stage with a story to tell. The Living Coast will focus primarily on the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, the deadliest natural disaster in American history. Breathtaking footage shot by the creatives behind Montopolis will be projected on the big screen while a narrator divulges the details of this harrowing event. All accompanied by original live orchestral scoring. It was a unique and entertaining night; if you missed them back in May, now is your chance!

Kerrville candidates forums take the safe route — until the end

It was a friendly and efficient candidates' forum Tuesday night before you peeled back the layers from the final segment of the event — the discussion between mayoral candidates Judy Eychner and Brent Bates.

See the photos from Tuesday night's forum:

Bates, suing the city in federal court, rolled out one grievance after another, carefully wrapped in an air of civility, but his aim was precise — get rid of the city's development services department, which oversees zoning and planning.

Mayoral candidate Brent Bates.

"Did you know Houston doesn't have any zoning," Bates told the audience of more than 50 people at Schreiner University. "There's no zoning ordinances in Houston. There's no development services there."

Bates' federal lawsuit focuses on his battle with the city's development services about the permitting of an office building he's constructing on Water Street.

During the conversation, moderated by The Kerrville Daily Times Publisher Carlina Villalpando, Bates said city zoning and the 2050 plan inhibit property rights but later said that managing growth was a priority. The 2050 Plan is a document on managing the city's growth.

"From my viewpoint, government has a very limited purpose," Bates said. "We're so far over our skis."

But those weren't the only eyebrow-raising suggestions Bates made during the 30-minute conversation:

  • He suggested he could build the city's proposed public safety building for less than $20 million but didn't explain how. The building is expected to cost $45 million and voters could approve it on May 7 — the same day as the municipal election.
  • He said that he constructed city soccer fields, Little League fields, started the Guadalupe River Trail, finished a pavilion and other projects around the city. (These were impossible to verify in real-time, but we will confirm these in the coming days)
  • He said major developers had abandoned projects because of the difficulties working with the city but provided no examples.
  • He complained about plans he had with the city that were either lost or not reviewed promptly.
  • He never mentioned his federal court action against the city.

Bates' narrative was a stark contrast to Eychner's position. Eychner succinctly said she believed in it for infrastructure and public safety when asked about raising taxes. After all, Eychner has been on the City Council during the issuance of debt to pay for road improvements and the potential for the new public safety building.

Mayoral candidate Judy Eychner.

Eychner is banking on her longstanding in the community — similar in length to Bates' — and her experience working on the City Council over the last four years.

"I also respect our city staff," Eychner said. "We have a tremendous and professional and competent city staff. I know my job is not to get into the weeds with them, but our job is to work with them, but not to get into their way. Part of the job of the mayor is to look to the future."

And Ecyhner hit on one point at least twice.

"I only have one agenda," said Eychner, who said affordable housing and managed growth were top priorities expressed to her from constituents.

The underlying tension of the forum was the fact that two candidates are actively suing the city. Bates in federal court, while Place 4 candidate Robin Monroe is suing the city in the 216th District Court over the municipal election date.

Monroe was a no-show at the forum, leaving incumbent Brenda Hughes to answer the questions alone. The Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored the forum, considered allowing a surrogate to take Monroe's place, but the chamber's governmental affairs committee squashed that.

Kerrville City Councilwoman Brenda Hughes had the room all to herself on Tuesday night when her opponent, Robin Monroe, didn't show up.

In the race for Place 3, the contrasting styles of two native Kerrville residents — a unique aspect of this election — showed in a polite conversation about the city's future.

The race features Joe Herring Jr., a former mayor, and Katy Chapman-Hanna, a registered nurse, to succeed Ecyhner, who has held the seat for two terms.

Herring positioned himself as an experienced business owner who wanted to see how to streamline some of the city's services but never suggested dissatisfaction with how the city's management. Chapman-Hanna described herself as a newcomer to public service but stressed her commitment to ethics and fidelity.

There were six questions ranging from defining what traits qualify them for the City Council to their position on the proposed public safety building.

Chapman-Hanna said that infrastructure and fiscal responsibility were two of the biggest issues she heard during her petition drive to run for the City Council. Herring said water was a key issue that the city was facing when he was on the City Council 30 years ago, and housing was a consistent theme throughout the night.

Kerrville City Council candidate Joe Herring Jr.

Kerrville City Council Candidate Katy Hanna-Chapman.

Here's a cause to get behind — Sisters in Service

What started as a simple bible study has morphed into a broader service organization that wants to provide aid to those who need it most.

Sisters in Service started when Jennifer Natale wanted to connect with other Kerr County women with bible studies, but now it's readying for its biggest fundraiser next month.

On April 9, the organization will host its "Sip and Serve" event at Tucker Hall on the St. Episcopal Church's campus from 1-3 p.m. According to Natale and Leslie Robertson, there will be shopping, an auction, and plenty of chances to sip something tasty, who are organizing the gathering.

However, this is also an opportunity to bid on some top-notch travel packages and good baskets. There is a trip to Sonoma, California; Scottsdale, Arizona and one to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Like so many organizations, Sisters in Service had its course shaped by the coronavirus pandemic.

"With COVID we started doing an online Zoom call," Natale said. "Then after hearing that the nursing home facilities were shutting down, our group began discussing how we could lift this the resident's spirits and so from there, we delivered 800 plus word search books with Bible verses, pens, and scripture cards, personal little notes to them and just to lift their spirits and let them know that we were thinking of em."

To learn more about Sisters in Service:


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