We have a new Mayor this month. We really, really needed a new mayor 4 years ago, but it is what it is. I don’t know our new Mayor Handren personally, but from what I have heard and seen, he seems like he’ll do great job. His resume is impressive, and big companies have hired him to fix their organizations, so we should count ourselves pretty lucky that a smart man like this would volunteer for an un-paid thankless job like Mayor.
I’m also quite pleased to see that the City Council has turned over, save for Nina. Just like the Mayoral position, we truly needed some fresh faces on Council so that the citizens could be better represented.
I’m not Mayor of Boerne, nor will I ever be, but I got to thinking the other day about what I would do differently if I were Mayor. What would I do on Day one? What would I do going forward to begin remedying some of struggles that little ol’ Boerne has endured. In no particular order, here we go:
ON DAY ONE, I THINK I’D HOLD A PRESS CONFERENCE
A REAL press event attended by real newspapers. We have local papers, but we have never had press conferences, and our new Mayor should start his administration with a whole heckuva lot of communication and transparency. Lay out your goals. Put developers on notice that there’s a new Sheriff in town, and give the citizens some hope that the new Mayor actually wants to listen to them. These press conferences should happen every 2 weeks. Some of our local papers could re-learn the art of keeping our leaders accountable, and a standing conference with the Mayor would help. Think it might be good change of pace for the Mayor to let the citizenry know every couple of weeks about the developments and variance requests that they said NO to? Yeah, me too.
ERADICATE THE DUCKS ON RIVER ROAD
This goes without saying.
I’D START INTERVIEWING CITY MANAGER APPLICANTS
Ron Bowman has been in his role since the early ‘80s (longest running City Manager in Texas) and his salary has gone from mid $100’s to pushing $400k, all while under $chultz’s reign. I don’t know Bowman, and I’m sure he’s a good guy, but it’s time for change. With a change in leadership, and with a city population that is overwhelmingly frustrated with city planning, I bet we could hire a well-qualified City Manager, save a ton of money, and set a new tone for our town. I’m not sure what to think of the fact that we have 2 (or 3) Deputy City Managers for a town of approximately 16,000 people, but I’d sure be scratching my head over that one also.
For 15 years I have predicted that Boerne would become Stone Oak with clogged roads, and people would say “Man, I hope not”. Guess what? We’re Stone Oak. I know that fixing mobility is a complex process that requires lots of people with lots of knowledge, but I’d sure call a meeting with all of these people in the room and try to figure this out asap. The Gateway was a monstrously terrible idea so we don’t need that, but there has to be some real-world options for us to remedy this somewhat. My hopes are low, though, as the City swore that the Herff extension would fix our traffic problems and I’m sure you have all seemed how that intersection works most days. But perhaps with a new Mayor and some interested parties, we can make some progress.
I WOULD SIGN A MAYORAL DECREE THAT MOVES BERGES FEST BACK TO TOWN SQUARE
I have no idea what the hang-up is with this, and I don’t really care. This event is one of the things that makes Boerne what it is, and it belongs on Town Square. No debate.
CHANGE BOERNE LAKE ADMISSION COSTS
Residents: FREE. Visiting cars full of folks from San Antonio and beyond: $200 per car and we hand them a garbage bag to clean up as they leave. The Lake was always such a beautiful little spot, and too many people have been abusing it for too long.
DECLARE GERMAN HERITAGE DAY
Some time back I saw $chultz signing a proclamation to celebrate Mexican-American History month in our German town. While that’s great and all, I went searching and from what I can tell, we have no celebration of our German ancestors that founded this area. Make it coincide with Berges Fest along with all the leiderhosen that the kids wear.
BEGIN THE CREATION OF A KENDALL COUNTY MUSEUM
Most small towns have these museums, but not Boerne and I find that unacceptable. I would love to see the City buy the old Riverside Gas Station, knock it over, and build a really cool museum that educates people on the founders of Boerne, Bergheim, Comfort, and the County. Artifacts, old photos, tours led by volunteers. The couple of bucks we could charge for admission would cover the upkeep of the building, we’d secure the most visible intersection in town, and we’d provide a great resource not only for visitors, but for residents and their families. If we can afford a $22m Taj-Mah-City-Hall…AND a fancy new CVB building…we can figure out how to get this done. Hell, I bet we could do this with just private donations.
DRINK BEER WITH THE MAYOR
I would pick a random day (let’s say Tuesdays) and I’d advertise that I’d be hanging out at the Duck having a pint at 4pm. Anybody is encouraged to come by, pull up a chair and chat with me about whatever issue they are concerned about. I would understand more about how people are being impacted by our town’s activities, I’d be able to meet good people that might be able to help with the shared cause of improving town, and frankly, I’d make new friends. Leading a town like Boerne is going to involve the repairing of a very fractured relationship between City leaders and the citizens, and why not start by just sitting down on the patio at the Duck and sharing a late-day beer followed by a handshake?
I’D CREATE A MAYORAL ADVISEMENT COUNCIL
I’d call 5 of my smartest friends from a variety of industries and get them to meet with me once a month for a lunch. Because I’m Mayor and know that I don’t know everything, I’d love to have a small collection of smart people to give me advice. Make sure you’re not doing any business with these folks (for conflicting interests) and let them give you some straight advice so you can a larger perspective than your own.
I could go on and on, but I won’t. Doing all of the above would make for one very busy 1st day, but it would be a great start. I’m excited for Handren, and I’m excited for the City. There seems to be a sense of hope around town lately, and I know that expectations are high for this administration. I sincerely hope that they can re-focus our priorities, mend the communication gaps with the citizens, and begin to better craft a vision for what remains of “undeveloped” Boerne so that we can save as much as we can for future generations.