|Councilmember Travis Mitchell (left) announced tonight he will campaign to succeed Todd Webster (right) as mayor of Kyle. Webster said Mitchell "has my complete support" and called him "the right person for the job"|
The Kyle City Council member with the least seniority, District 1's Travis Mitchell, announced this evening he was running for mayor, saying he wants Kyle " to be known as a ‘strong’ city — strong financially, economically, aesthetically, and culturally."
Mitchell’s announcement means that in addition to those seats being vacated by Mayor Todd Webster and council members Becky Selbera and David Wilson, his District 1 seat will also be opened this year, but whether that seat will be filled in the regular November elections or in a special election shortly after apparently is still in question. Mitchell said he officially filed his candidacy with the city secretary earlier today..
Fittingly, Mitchell launched his campaign for mayor of the self-proclaimed Pie Capital of Texas at a gathering of close to 100 supporters (about 10 percent of whom, admittedly, were below the legal voting age) he hosted this evening at the Texas Pie Company.
"I believe Kyle's best days are ahead," he said, just before the kickoff event. "And I want to pursue every avenue available to make that vision a reality."
Prior his announcement, outgoing Mayor Todd Webster said Mitchell "has my full support. He’s the right person for the job."
It is likely that Mitchell will attract at least one opponent and many observers believe the person most likely to challenge Mitchell is District 6 council member Daphne Tenorio. If she did decide to vacate her seat and seek the office it could mean five of the council’s seven council seats would have new occupants next year. Fortunately, moving the elections from May, when they had been held up to now, to November will give these council members at least eight months, not just three, to examine the city’s budgeting process up close and personally before they are asked to make decisions regarding the next budget cycle. Of course, neither Mitchell nor Tenorio can be classified as budget "newbies," but, then, neither has chaired a budget discussion either, let alone one with so many other freshman office holders.
All of which, leaves Mitchell, at least publically, completely undeterred.
‘I am looking forward to campaigning for mayor of Kyle," he said. "I plan to work twice as hard as I did when I ran for council, and I will take as much help and support as I can get along the way. I believe in the future of Kyle and want to be there as we take the next step forward."
Regardless of the length of his tenure on the council, Mitchell has in that short time conceived of and shepherded through a small business development plan he called "The First Year’s On Us,’ that could have the greatest economic impact of any other idea introduced by a council member in the last three years, at least. Mitchell’s plan allows for a rebate of the first year’s property taxes for a business deciding to locate or relocate in Kyle.
It’s also worth noting that Mitchell has a 100 percent attendance record for all council meetings; at the other end of that scale, Tenorio’s 81 percent is the lowest of any of the current council members.
Mitchell’s decision to run while continuing to occupy his council seat would, as would be the case if Tenorio chose the same path, appear to be, at least to this observer, in direct defiance of Section 3.02 of the city’s charter that states "no candidate for or member of the council shall hold any other elective public office." But Mitchell countered that assertion, saying: "I have been advised by the city attorney, and have referenced multiple Texas Attorney General opinions on the matter. They all agree that I am a ‘de jure’ officer, meaning I automatically vacate my position as the District 1 Council member, but I hold over in my capacity until the November election. This action is consistent with every known precedent I could find, including the exact scenario from when Mayor Lucy Johnson vacated her seat on council to run for mayor of Kyle."
Mitchell said there are many reasons he decided to abandon the council seat he has held for only 14 months, as of this date, to seek the mayor’s position, "but the three that rise to the surface have to do with leadership, direction, and vision. Mayor Webster and council members Selbera and Wilson are all stepping down this year. Together they have 34 years of experience leading the City of Kyle. With that kind of knowledge leaving the dais, we need a leader who can hit the ground running and help new council members get their bearing.
"As we all know, Kyle is exploding with growth — both residential and commercial — and there are complicated and important negotiations taking place every day that will impact how our city develops in the coming years. We need a mayor who knows where we stand in these discussions, and how every item is connected to a bigger picture. We need a mayor with the business and political experience necessary to make sure our city negotiates from a place of strength and with the citizens’ best interest at heart.
"As to direction, I'm running for mayor to ensure that we don't take any steps backwards as a city. Kyle has been playing the long-game for several years now. Our city manager, Scott Sellers, is positioning us to finally shed the stigma that we are simply a bedroom community far enough south of Austin to have cheap housing developments within a commutable drive but not close enough to attract job producing commercial developments. Mr. Sellers says he wants Kyle to become a ‘destination city,’ and I agree. But I have started using a word I like more. If Kyle could only be known for one thing, I would want us to be known as a ‘strong’ city — strong financially, economically, aesthetically, and culturally.
"And vision, of course, piggybacks from direction," Mitchell concluded. "Most people see government as, at best, a necessary evil. But I believe I have been called to fight against that notion. I believe Kyle's best days are ahead. And I want to pursue every avenue available to make that vision a reality."
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This blog will publish a more in-depth Q&A with mayoral candidate Mitchell, hopefully along with similar opportunities for every candidate running for a municipal office this year, once those interviews have been completed. I wait until every candidate who chooses to participate in this exercise does so because I pose basically the same questions to all the candidates.)