This article is the final interview of the Helotes City Council candidates on the November 3rd, 2020 ballot. Only candidates who participated in the previous interview were invited to participate in the second and final interview for this election cycle.
Helotes News: How would you collaborate with the Helotes Economic Development Corporation (HEDC) to foster managed commercial growth in Helotes?
Craig Sanders: I fully support the role of the HEDC which is to promote, encourage, and enhance the creation of jobs, the expansion of the local tax base, and quality-of-life through projects that assist in the retention and expansion of existing employers and which attract new employers and aid in their development and growth. As a Councilman, I want to see HEDC funds used for the purpose they were intended for and not used by the city to fund unrelated special projects such as the proposed city park splash pad. I want to see HEDC funds used to improve existing city infrastructure for current and future economic opportunities in Helotes. As a Councilman, I would also voluntarily attend HEDC meetings whenever possible to understand what topics are being discussed before they are elevated to Council for consideration. For example, early involvement by Councilmembers could have helped the HEDC Board of Directors successfully navigate through city roadblocks to get their $300K Helotes Small Business Relief Grant Program approved sooner than they did.
Helotes News: In terms of oversight, how involved do you plan to be with the activities and action items brought before you on Council from the HEDC, Planning and Zoning, Board of Adjustments?
Craig Sanders: I believe I already answered this question concerning the HEDC in my previous response. It is my understanding that the other city committees’ have a Councilmember already assigned to them to provide oversight and advocacy. If I am assigned to support a committee, I will attend scheduled meetings and then back-brief Council on what took place.
Helotes News: We’re not expecting you to know it all. So, if there is one thing you could change about Helotes zoning, what would it be?
Craig Sanders: I believe any recommended change to existing city zoning MUST be completely transparent to the community. I am pro-business, but I also believe our city zoning should be in synch with the city’s strategic plans and goals. Unfortunately, some of the city’s strategic documents have not been officially reviewed/updated in 11 years, which is also something else that needs to be addressed. Bottom line, I am not a proponent of random/unplanned growth or casually changing zoning designations. Any change to zoning is a big deal and should never be taken lightly by the city and should always be completely above board with the residents/property owners in Helotes.
Helotes News: There is a good amount of frustration with traffic in Helotes. What is your view on our private and commercial traffic?
Craig Sanders: Residents already know that traffic through and around Helotes is getting worse and unfortunately there is no viable way to route traffic around Helotes in the foreseeable future to make things better. I do not blame the commercial traffic as much as I blame the sheer volume of non-local traffic that flows through the city. Most of the non-local traffic is the result of the increased growth occurring Northwest of Helotes along SH16 that we have no control over. Hopefully the new proposed SH16 road construction project for Helotes will help alleviate some of our driving frustrations; however, it will also pose new challenges.
Helotes News: What areas, if any, do you believe the City can work better with TX DoT to improve our commuters experience.
Craig Sanders: We need to be close partners with TxDoT on the proposed SH16 road construction project that will go through the heart of Helotes. I watched the TxDoT video presentation and I am horrified about how this new road could impact the look and feel of Helotes. The city must be engaged and actively working with TxDoT from day one, and should push back whenever required, to ensure we do not end up with a concrete jungle that does not take Helotes’ concerns/desires into account. TxDoT needs to be reminded that this project is not happening on SH 281 but rather through the middle of a small town. The city must also pay close attention to second/third order negative effects caused by any new road construction to ensure it does not create unintended traffic consequence or safety issues on Helotes side streets. For example, the blind curve that was created at the intersection of Riggs Road and FM 1560 and the change of traffic flow/volume created on Bar-X Trail and Diamond K Trail are the results of past planning failures. We must ensure those type of mistakes do not happen again.
Helotes News: Will you report observed or employee reported violations of Texas Municipal and Penal codes to the proper authorities?
Craig Sanders: Easy answer…YES!
Helotes News: How will you ensure the items brought before you on the City Council Meeting Agenda packets for any given meeting are presented to you unbiased, complete without relevant facts or background omissions?
Craig Sanders: All I can say is that I will do everything in my power to do my independent research on the agenda topics prior to Council meetings as required. If I feel I do not have the right information to make a qualified/informed decision on behalf of the residents of Helotes, then I will ask the Council for a delay in the vote until the situation is rectified. With all that said, I hope that will never be necessary.
Last Minute Thoughts
Helotes News: Consider everything you have learned from campaigning this year; what is the most important positive item you learned about that should be sustained or improved upon, and what is the most negative item that should be eliminated or amended? You don’t have to answer if there is nothing that comes to mind.
Craig Sanders: It has been a long journey from when I started down this road to ask residents for their votes. Starting in Feb 2020, I estimate I knocked on ~1000 doors and talked to many more residents then that to introduce myself and to learn what was on people’s minds. The biggest thing I learned during this experience was there is such a large collection of wonderful people who live here and who all care deeply about their city. Many residents love Helotes and its traditions (for a multitude of reasons); however, more people are growing concerned that we are changing too fast and that the things that make Helotes special will cease to exist soon. Residents want their Council to be aware of their issues and to sincerely listen to them. I think Council can provide more outreach to the community and stop relying solely on the public comments portion at the start of Council meetings to learn what is bothering people in Helotes. In my opinion, Councilmembers need to get out and meet the people of Helotes on a regular basis. I can assure everyone that if I am elected, I will work hard to proactively stay in touch with the community and will help protect Helotes’ uniqueness, while also helping the city to continue to grow. I think tradition and growth are not mutually exclusive concepts and with the right passion/leadership, both can coexist.
As for negative trends, I would only remind current and future Helotes elected officials to stay connected with residents and truly listen to their needs/concerns. It was awesome to see so many people in our community involved in local politics this election cycle. This was first time in a long time that there were challengers for each Council position. Helotes also had record numbers of residents that came out for early voting this election cycle, which is a great thing. This election process may have been an “inconvenience” for the incumbents, but as I see it…a clear victory for the residents who finally had an opportunity to select their city representatives in a long time. Helotes should always desire to have contested elections since that will keep elected representatives grounded with the community and help keep residents in charge of THEIR CITY.
For easier access to candidate information we created static candidate pages for those who participated in the first interview. The page contains information they provided to Helotes News on their campaign website, social media and answers to the first interview. For more information on this candidate please click the link below.