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Salado Mayoral Candidates 2014 - Hans Fields

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Hans Fields

My experience

Village of Salado Experienced Alderman for the past 3 years. I am a Conservative Republican in my politics. Attended the inaugural class of Leadership Salado.

More about my work/life experience:

BA degree in Education; Masters Degree with majors in Biology, Mathematics and Chemistry; Coached and taught school for 18 years; Chairman of the Science department; Head Basketball Coach; Chevron Refining and Chevron/Phillips Chemical Company for 28 years; Senior Safety Engineer for 18 years; 2 years in Saudi Arabia and 2 years in Qatar as Project Safety Manager having responsibility for 3,500 contract employees of 11 nationalities speaking four different languages. Responsible for a $3.5 million budget for the projects.

My Philosophy: The truth and nothing but. I do not lie. What you hear from me may not be what you want to hear, but it is the truth as I know it.

My life in the Village as active participant, Full-Time Resident: Having retired to Salado over seven years ago, I know life in Salado, and I actively participate in the community. Member of the Salado United Methodist Church President of the Salado Historical Society President of the Mill Creek Community Association First Vice President of the Salado Lions Club Serve on the board of the College Hill Foundation Member of the CTAM and the Salado Chamber of Commerce Member of Salado Volunteers Provide tours at Robertson Plantation Occasionally drive the tourism Salado Trolley.

I believe in the people of this Village and, if elected, my number one goal will be to organize quarterly public forums to listen to the people of Salado and to give them an opportunity to express their concerns. I will continue to be “the people’s voice,” not just listening, but directing the Village Government to address concerns. I stand on my record as an alderman. I have listened and actively sought out public opinion on the issues of roads, sewer system, low cost housing and voted as the people who contacted me express their concerns. I believe that our Village Government is large enough without further expansion and I do not support the Village becoming a “Type A” government just to support a big tax increase.

Question 1: The village entered into a contract with Central Texas Council of Governments (CTCOG) to provide city management/administrative duties. In your opinion, is this arrangement working well? Should the village extend this contract beyond the current period ending in October? Why or why not? (200 word limit)

Hans Fields Answer: In my opinion this arrangement is not working well.  I am in favor of a village administrator but currently our administrator is rarely available.  I feel that for approximately the same salary we are currently paying we could have a full time administrator.  At present the BOA receives the administrator reports on the evening of the BOA meetings.  That allows little time for research of the reports and several times the board is expected to vote on issues that are presented only a few minutes before the meeting.  I proposed at the last extension that we extend for 6 months and during that period we accept applications for a full time administrator.  The Board defeated the motion.

Question 2: Texas Department of Transportation estimates that the expansion of I-35 through Salado will be complete in late 2015. What, if anything, can or should the Village be doing to prepare for this? What, if anything, can or should the Village be doing now to bolster businesses that have been affected by the construction project? (150 words)

Hans Fields Answer: It is my opinion that the Village government should be diligently working to develop the West side of I35.  The Village should be offering tax breaks and other incentives to bring in West side business.  If the citizens pass the Sewer Bond I believe that the system should incorporate both sides of I35.  The Board will, at the next BOA meeting, be voting on an overlay district ordinance for the west side.  I feel we need to be very careful in what that ordinance requires new business to do so that owners are not frightened off.  Salado is a destination and people come here regardless of the construction.  The Village has provided money for advertising and Tourism is doing a great job of putting heads in beds.  One problem we have is that many businesses are not open on Sunday and the streets are rolled up at 4 p.m. most days.  

 Question 3: What is -- or should be -- the role of the mayor in terms of setting goals and policies and enacting the  goals and policies of the Village? What is -- or should be -- the relationship between the Mayor and other aldermen and between the mayor and the city administrator and other staff? What will you do in terms of these relations? (200 words)

Hans Fields Answer: The Mayor serves the people and The Village administrator serves the board.   Presently the people are left out and are not heard or listened to.  The Board of Aldermen was elected by the people to represent them and the goals to be set should be set by the people through the Aldermen, not just the Mayor and the administrator.  The policies of the Village are set by the Ordinances of the Village. These should not be changed just to further desires of the Mayor or Aldermen.  The people who live within our City Limits should have a say in what the Village is and what it is to become and how their tax dollars are to be spent. The relationship between the Mayor and the other Aldermen must be one of mutual respect.  We must agree to disagree on certain issues while still respecting each other. In my opinion, currently, our city administrator is more the Mayor than our presently elected Mayor. If elected I will assign specific duties to the board members which they will handle and report on.  I will take over responsibility for staff and expect staff to perform their job functions with the expertise that they were hired for.

Question 4. What are your thoughts on the Village Comprehensive Plan?  (200 words)

Hans Fields Answer: The current Comprehensive Plan was written in 2004.  Several parts of the plan are out of date, primarily due to being ignored and unused by the BOA and the Planning and Zoning Board. In fact, I would question if they are familiar with the plan. The plan consists of 8 Guiding Principles for the development of the Village.  These need to be reviewed and if necessary up-dated. The Mayor several months ago was to select a new Comprehensive Plan Team;     As an Alderman, I have not seen any results presented by this team. The plan remains as it was written in 2004 and unused. 

Question 5. What are your top five goals for the Village that you would like to see accomplished in the next five years? How would you help to accomplish those goals? (200 words)

Hans Fields Answer: 1.  Get the Sewer issue resolved.  We are going to be asked to spend thousands taxpayer dollars on another sewer study. This will be the fourth study since I was elected in 2011. We have no land on which to build this system and the BOA has not yet decided where it will run.2. Fix the roads!  The roads are in bad repair and we are paving Natasha and fixing a culvert on a little- traveled road. This is poor use of limited funds. 3. Write an ordinance that addresses the following issues and enforce it. Empty lots and homes that are not being taken care of, the number of cars at a home, trailers and boats in driveways, RV’s parked in drives and yards, trash and trash receptacles lining curbs and roadways. Where has community pride gone?  4. Listen to the citizens.  The board’s support for the low income housing project. The majority of the citizens do not want it but the Mayor and the BOA think they know best.  Have public forums and support the majority of the people.5. Review all ordinances.  Make necessary changes, write new ones where needed.  Enforce them equally and quit handing out variances.   

Question 6. Why do you think development within the Village and its ETJ has been slow in recent years in terms of new housing starts, new businesses, etc.? Do you think the Village should be growing? If not, why not? If so, what, if anything, can the Board of Aldermen do to improve this?(200 words)

Hans Fields Answer: Development in the Village and ETJ has been slowed mainly due to the economy.  The economy has deterred housing growth nationwide and lack of a sewer system has deterred growth of businesses. Citizens will determine the Village’s growth or non-growth by addressing the November bond issue.  Growth in the Village is very limited by available land on which to build. However, the ETJ seems to be healthy. There are 15 new houses on Amity and 54 unit project in ETJ.   Another  project is expanding. Housing inventories are down for this time of year -- more people are moving in than moving out.  The Village has a 380 Economic Development Team in place to help the Village grow but, unfortunately, they are not being used or even consulted on new growth. Personally, I moved here for the small Village atmosphere, the beauty, the history, low taxes and the friendly, helpful people.  I am willing to rely on their judgment as to size and growth of the Village.  If I wanted a bigger city atmosphere, I would have chosen Belton or Temple or Waco or Austin. I believe that the BOA is doing what the Village BOA wants not, in many cases, what the citizen’s want. 

 

Question 7: What are your thoughts on the conditions of the village roads? (200 word limit)

Hans Fields Answer: Anyone who drives in the Village has to admit that there are numerous roads and areas that need to be repaired.  The BOA in the past 3 years has done little to change the road conditions.  Paving Natasha was a big error on the part of the Village Administration. There are approximately 5 cents of the ad-valorem tax earmarked for the road repairs.  That allows about two-tenths of a mile of road work per year.  With nearly 50 miles of roads in the Village limits, DO THE MATH. If the Village ever intends to fix roads, it cannot be accomplished with the current ad-valorem rate and sales tax income. Theatres may have to wait. Do we really want a Starbucks?  We have Stagecoach Coffee Shop, McCain’s, and Patio Restaurant, Shed, Pizza Place, etc.  Support what we have!  People should use the two beautiful parks we already have-Pace park and Sherrill Park.

 Question 8: What are your thoughts on the maintenance and operations of the village park? (150 word limit)

Hans Fields Answer: Currently we have two very nice parks in the Village.  One is “Pace Park” which is maintained by the Village.  There is a children’s playground. There is a very nice well kept Pavilion in which to hold picnics, reunions, weddings, receptions and etc. Village maintenance takes care of this park.  We also have “Sherrill Park” which is maintained by the Village Volunteers.  Take a drive and take a look. It is well-kept and beautiful.  If people would look around our Village they would see we have parks they just aren’t being used.  “This is a case of the grass is always greener.”

 Question 9: Will you as Mayor work with the Aldermen to bring to the voters  a bond election for sewer? If called by the board, will you personally advocate for approval of a bond election for a sewer system? (300 words)

Hans Fields Answer: Yes. I have pushed for three years to try and get this issue before the people of Salado.  What is to be done is up to the citizens.  Are they willing to support a system to be paid for by all for the few?  If the bond is defeated then the sewer issue is a dead issue and the Village will need to find a way to move on. What I will personally do if elected Mayor is to work diligently to provide the honest and open answers to all of the citizens’ questions regarding this system with open and honest dialogue regarding the good and the bad effects that having or not having a Sewer Plant will have on the Village.  By doing this, the voters will be able to make the proper and educated vote on the bond when the opportunity arises.  I will NOT share half truths and innuendos with the citizens.  If the citizens get honest and open answers to their questions and are given the true facts, I have confidence that they will make the correct and best decision for our Village.

 

Question 10: What do you consider to be the greatest weakness or flaw in the Village of Salado government and what can you do to change it? (200 words)

 

Hans Fields Answer:  The greatest weaknesses in our city government is a  Mayor who depends almost entirely on the Contract Village Administrator and the BOA that does not take the time to think and research the issues that come before them.  Both are perfectly happy to let the Village Administrator tell them vote for this or vote for that.  Most current Aldermen do not really know this Village and what the people want. It is all about them knowing what is best or what they want instead of the will of the people. To change this first I will think for myself and apply knowledge gained from our citizens in town hall meetings.  The Aldermen will be involved in all aspects of what is going on in the Village government, not just informed at Workshops and BOA meetings.  I will involve Aldermen, citizens and business owners on the teams to revise the ordinances not just myself and the Administrator and a CTCOG employee.  I will see to it that when we have a public “town hall” to discuss the issues that we have answers for the people.  We will have true “town Hall” meetings where the citizens set the agenda and get to express their concerns so that we know what they expect of their representatives. The Aldermen, as elected officials will be expected to be prepared and to speak to the issues. 

Question 11:  Why should anyone vote for you? (200 words)

Hans Fields Answer: Because I am the best man for the job, as for three years I’ve represented the people and their opinions on the Village Board.  I am familiar with current and future issues facing the Village.  Living in Salado I belong to several service clubs and volunteer in many activities.  I can devote the necessary time required to address issues in a timely manner. You see me in the stores and on the streets in Salado.  I want to see Salado succeed as a Village, not a big city. The next Mayor could face a situation of not being the popular choice.  The candidate elected could have a high percent of the people vote against him? That will be a challenge that I am ready and able to handle.  By representing all the citizens I believe that I am able to best represent the Village in bringing unity to the board and Village.  I am not promising a bowling alley, Starbucks and movie theatre because that won’t happen no matter who you elect.  But I will work diligently to develop our west side and will support including the west side homes and businesses in Salado’s future.