Georgetown mayor candidates share views at forum [Austin American-Statesman :: ]
(Austin American-Statesman (TX) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) April 02--GEORGETOWN -- The two candidates vying to become Georgetown's next mayor agree the City Council made the right decision last year to rejoin the Lone Star Rail District, the proposed commuter rail that would run from San Antonio through Austin and into Williamson County.
But they have different views on how soon the rail line might actually be built.
Marlene McMichael, 60, a vice chancellor for Texas State Technical College who has also worked for several state lawmakers, questioned whether the rail district has the financial support it needs from the federal level.
"What I can tell you today with sequestration is there's not a collective will in Congress to pay for this," she said at a forum this week.
Dale Ross, the 54-year-old owner of a Georgetown accounting firm who previously served on City Council, was more optimistic. He noted that in the past six months, federal highway authorities indicated that transportation was a priority in the Interstate 35 corridor in Central Texas.
The two candidates debated each other at a forum hosted Monday evening by the Student Congress at Southwestern University. The winner of the May 10 election will replace George Garver, who has been mayor since 2008.
Garver cast the tie-breaking vote last fall for Georgetown to rejoin the Lone Star Rail District after a divided council voted in June to leave. The city pays an annual $49,500 fee to remain in the district, a project some council members argued was too expensive. A rough estimate last year for the 118-mile commuter line was just under $2 billion.
Returning to the district was the right call, Ross and McMichael agreed, adding the city will benefit from an environmental study that is underway.
Ross also has more immediate transit goals if he is elected mayor.
"I can envision a day in the near future where we can have a bus system in Georgetown that starts at Southwestern University and goes to downtown and to Sun City and the Rivery and Wolf Ranch and integrates the entire city," he said.
He touted his 30 years of management experience, including working as an accountant at a national firm before he opened his own business. "I can speak the language of CEOs and CFOs, and if elected mayor I will be able to help in any way," he said.
McMichael said she worked for the developers who brought the Rivery project to Georgetown, which in turn has attracted other developers to the city. The Rivery project, which is under construction, will include a conference center and a Sheraton hotel.
"I can get projects done," she said. "I know how to make government work and I want to be able to bring my skills to Georgetown."
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