A $321.5 million school bond proposed by the Bastrop school district was receiving support from 55.5% voters with 64% of precincts reporting on Saturday evening. The bond received 1,557 yes votes to 1,248 no votes.
In the race for Bastrop mayor, Dock Jackson was leading three other candidates with 32.3% of the vote. Lyle Nelson was second with 31.8%, while Deborah Jones had 28.8%. Deborah Northcutt was in fourth with 7.3%.
In the Place 3 City Council race, Kevin Plunkett jumped out to 64% to 36% lead over Carrie Caylor. In the Place 2 race, Cynthia Sanders Meyer was leading with 54% of the vote over Gary Moss at 30% and Christine Long at 16%.
Incumbent Billy Moore was winning 56.5% of the vote in the Place 3 Bastrop school board race against Joseph B. Thompson, who had 43.5%. In the Place 4 race, Priscilla Kay Ruiz had 60% of the vote to Greg Mueller’s 40%.
Jackson, 70, has spent three decades in and out of City Hall as a council member and as mayor pro tem.
Jackson also wants to “make our city a more user-friendly city for developers and for the citizens that we represent.” He said Bastrop needs to update its zoning policy and referenced a business that was ready to open but spent a year waiting for approval of its sign.
“Developers have deserted the city of Bastrop because of the process,” Jackson said.
Jackson wants to focus on “jobs and training” by bringing workforce development facilities such as trade schools and colleges to Bastrop, “so that when new companies decide to come in, we’ll have the workforce that’s already trained and ready to go,” Jackson said.
Jackson said that in addition to his experience on the City Council, he has been president of the Texas Municipal League and worked with the National League of Cities.
“My dedication and genuine love of my city, and my commitment to serve the public has prepared me for this position as the top elected official of the city. My desire to serve is sincere and I want to continue to do so,” Jackson said.
Jones, 64, has been a property appraiser in Bastrop for more than 22 years, and served on the City Council from 2016 to 2019.
Jones said she wants to update the “restrictive and unfriendly” development code that she said has “been a disaster” for businesses trying to build in the city.
“As an appraiser, my first-hand experience with development and my ability to communicate and bring people together and keep things focused. That’s one of the main reasons I’m running and one of the big assets I bring to the table,” Jones said.
Jones is focused on expanding Bastrop’s parks and recreation and “implementing road maintenance and drainage” repairs. She said she also wants Bastrop’s historic bridge “renovated and turned into a park,” and believes the public would support a bond to fund it.
Jones touted her inside experience as an appraiser and business owner in Bastrop, and the fact that she was not involved in writing the current development code, which she believes has been harmful to business growth.
“We need a leader who understands how to move in the right direction, bring people to the table, implement and follow through on policy that works. That’s me. My background in business and finance makes me the perfect addition to the team,” Jones said.
Nelson, 69, is the chief of staff for the Capital Area Rural Transportation System. He has served two terms on the City Council, including as mayor pro tem.
“The biggest issues facing our city is managing the growth that is upon us, as well as maintaining and building the public infrastructure to serve our constituents now and into the future,” Nelson said.
Nelson said he is focused on establishing “an open inclusive city government that is responsible for and responsive to all of our citizens,” and named improving infrastructure as a top priority, “including roads, sidewalks, water, wastewater, parks & recreation for all ages, facilities and drainage.”
Nelson stated his support for the city manager to review the development code and believes his experience sets him apart from the others. “I am the best candidate because of my experience combined with a result-oriented approach to any issue before us,” Nelson said.
Northcutt did not respond to questions for comment.
City council races
Drusilla Rogers is stepping down early from her term representing Place 2. Christine Long, Gary Moss and Cynthia Sanders Meyer are running to fulfill the final year of Rogers’ second three-year term.
In the race for the Place 3 seat, Kevin Plunkett is running for reelection after earning the seat in a special election last year following another City Council resignation. Plunkett is looking to win his first full term on the council in a head-to-head race against Carrie Caylor.
Moss, 71, has been retired for more than 20 years, but said he stays busy as the founding president of the Bastrop Area Pickleball Association. Before retiring, Moss was the owner and operator of Representatives for Technical Manufacturers in South Austin. He has served on the Bastrop Zoning Board of Adjustments for three years.
Cynthia Sanders Meyer, 62, attended the University of Texas studying communications before choosing a career in health and fitness. She said she opened Bastrop’s first fitness center, which she has owned and operated for 37 years downtown. Sanders Meyer also has been a commissioner on the Zoning and Planning Commission for six years.
Long has been part of the Bastrop community for five years and believes she will bring a different perspective to the City Council because she lives outside the downtown area, in the Hunters Crossing neighborhood. Long studied fine arts at Texas State University. She has served on her neighborhood’s government council and on the steering committee for the Parks and Recreation master plan. Long did not respond to requests for comment.
Both Moss and Sanders Meyer said they want to make sure Bastrop is able to grow without losing the small-town charm and historic character that the city is known for.
Moss is concerned with growing traffic congestion in the city, and though he wants to make it easier for new development to take place, he also said that “preserving the nature of the downtown historic district is very, very important to everybody.”
“It’s really important that we get our growth plan right,” Moss said.
In addition to managing growth, Moss said public safety is among his top concerns.
Moss said that per capita, “Bastrop, oddly enough, is one of the most dangerous cities to live in,” and he wants to ensure police “absolutely have the things they need equipment-wise, money-wise and staff-wise.”
Sanders Meyer wants to amend city codes that she said are harmful to low-income residents and small businesses, and also wants to improve infrastructure and parking downtown. While doing this, she wants to maintain Bastrop’s “uniqueness and authenticity.”
“Our codes will direct our growth; therefore, it is imperative we amend them to maintain our ‘small town charm,’” Sanders Meyer said.
Sanders Meyer also wants to look at the possibility of adding non-paid parking garages and finding ways the city could be “increasing communication with all residents, old and new.”
Both candidates said their experience and character qualities make them the right fit to sit on the council.
“I have the experience, knowledge and skills to address our issues. I have the heart and character to maintain Bastrop’s charm and uniqueness,” Sanders Meyer said.
“I understand how to work with both sides of every issue. I think that’s very important, and my goal is to be able to bring everyone together for a common good to solve the problems that we have,” Moss said.
On her campaign Facebook page, Long said that different priorities will need to be considered as city grows. “Yes, we want success on Main Street and we want to preserve authentic Bastrop, but we also need to focus on keeping Bastrop affordable and enjoyable for all of its residents, including those outside of the destination areas,” she said.
Caylor, 32, is the vice president of corporate administration at Infinity Water Solutions, the former director of development services for the city of Rollingwood, and she has been on Bastrop’s Planning and Zoning Commission for two and a half years. Caylor studied international relations at Texas Christian University and earned a certificate in green building from Austin Community College.
Plunkett, 54, owns three restaurants in downtown Bastrop. He graduated from Texas A&M University, where he studied industrial distribution. Plunkett also has served on the board of directors for Visit Bastrop, the Bastrop Economic Development Corporation, and was the board chairman of the Bastrop Chamber of Commerce.
Plunkett’s drive to serve on the City Council comes from his personal experience as a restaurant owner, and the experience of renovating one of his restaurants in 2020. He had been waiting for the right moment to replace the flooring, and when COVID-19 forced the restaurant to stop serving customers, he saw an opportunity to finally get that done and give his employees a chance to keep making a paycheck.
Caylor said she is focused on allowing more construction in Bastrop, especially housing, to help people who would like to move to Bastrop as well as longtime residents.
“I have spoken with a lot of older residents who would like to stay in Bastrop and downsize from their current home, but there is not housing diversity to facilitate that,” Caylor said.
Caylor also wants to improve city infrastructure such as roads, bike paths, walkability and drainage, and said she is focused on balancing growth with the need to “ensure that Bastrop keeps our unique identity and feel as we welcome new residents and development.”
“We need increased services in our community, but we need to make sure that as commercial development occurs, that it is community-focused and driven, and that it is sustainable so that taxpayers aren’t burdened by it down the line,” Caylor said.