Going Local

City council candidates describe why they chose to run for local office.

Many individuals may underestimate the influence local elections have on them directly, leaving some unprepared to choose a candidate that represents them when the time comes.

The candidates running for College Station City Council are Bob Brick, Jason Cornelius, Dell Seiter, Linda Harvell, Elizabeth Cunha, Joe Guerra Jr., Craig Regan, Brian Alg and John Nichols. The elected candidates will fill four of the seven seats, which means this election will determine the majority of the council.

Place 1 candidate councilman ​Bob Brick​ is running for re-election after becoming a member of the College Station City Council in 2017. Brick moved to College Station in 1976 and began working at Texas A&M in 2016 after he retired from Blinn College. He is familiar with and supports the way A&M has responded to COVID-19 and said he strives to grow the community in ways that are sustainable during a period when the city’s budget is limited.

“In times like this, strength and flexibility produce resilience in governance,” Brick said in a submission to The Battalion. “It is always a challenge to create a budget that balances fiscal responsibility with our city’s other needs. A keen awareness of the city’s Core Value of Financial Sustainability and adherence to our City Council Mission Statement — ‘to advance and promote the quality of life for the community’ — will provide the guidance needed to cope successfully with the current challenges as we move forward.”

Place 1 candidate ​Jason Cornelius​ said he decided to run for City Council because he wants to continue to be a part of helping the city and community be as safe and prosperous as possible. If Cornelius is elected, he will be College Station’s first Black councilman.

“I grew up here, and I now chose to raise my family here,” Cornelius said. “I currently serve with many of our vital nonprofit organizations. I work with all of our local law enforcement agencies.”

Cornelius said his priorities are making sure the city has sensible financial planning and budgeting to help now and in the future.

“I want to make sure we work towards the strategic growth of both our city and community,” Cornelius said. “I bring a diverse and dynamic background that our city hasn’t had before, which is why I will be a voice for the entire city.”

Place 3 candidate ​Dell Seiter​’s platform focuses on taking a stand for big city amenities and reestablishing conservative values. He hopes to attract more industries that will diversify the community’s workforce and said he wants to help fund services that are “truly important for a world-class city like College Station, Texas.”

Place 3 candidate councilwoman​ Linda Harvell​ said she is running for re-election with the priority of ensuring quality of life for residents. She supports strict rule enforcement on short term rentals and advocates for better health and safety regulations surrounding these rentals. Harvell also supports an increase in police officers and first responders.

“We need to ensure that as the city grows, we hire police officers and first responders to keep up with that growth,” Harvell said. “We cannot spread ourselves so thin that the safety and well-being of our residents and businesses are in jeopardy.”

Place 4 candidate Elizabeth Cunha said her race is a special runoff that started about a year ago. The election was delayed due to COVID-19 and was rescheduled to take place in August, but she pushed for the vote to take place in November so students could participate.

"My opponent wanted the vote to take place in August. In addition to this, we differ in that I am firmly against the Residency Occupancy Overlay (ROO),” Cunha said. “The ROO is the initiative that the current city council is pushing to prohibit more than two unrelated persons from living in a single-family home."

The student vote is influential, Cunha said, which is why she said she pushed to move the election to a time when students could vote and make their voices heard.

“I hope they understand the power and opportunity they have to advocate for change,” Cunha said. “I would also advise students to look at who the firemen endorse because they’re the only ones asking the hard questions. If you want a cheat sheet of who to vote for, follow the firemen.”

Place 4 candidate ​Joe Guerra Jr.​ stands for​ “smart, responsible growth.” He promises to advocate for neighborhoods, as well as fiscal responsibility. Guerra said there are three main reasons why he is running.

“First, I want to work toward a better College Station for everyone — mindful of the needs of the students as well as the permanent residents,” Guerra said in a submission to The Battalion. “Second, I come from a family that values public service. Residents elected my father to a city-wide office in a little town outside of Corpus Christi in the 1970s and he later served on its Planning and Zoning Commission. The last reason is that if elected, I would be one of the first Latinos, if not the first, elected to the Council. I want to serve as a role model for other minorities who might consider running for office in College Station.”

Place 5 candidate Craig Regan said his platform is based on cooperation, efficiency and data.

“I will strive to find policies and ideas that combine all three and put them into action,” Regan said. “My four main policy goals are local wealth conservation, natural restoration organizations and fundraising, new business growth, economic diversity, and data and fact-based decision making, rather than desired political outcomes.”

Place 5 candidate Brian Alg’s main focuses are on budget, compatible land use around campus, economic development and the affordability of utilities. Though the current council wants to regulate the number of people living in single-family homes, Alg said they should “let it happen.”

“The world’s largest university is in the middle of town — behave accordingly,” Alg said. “Student housing and economic activity that complements the university belong near campus.”

Place 5 candidate John Nichols has lived with his family in College Station since 1974. He is a professor and the head of the A&M Department of Agricultural Economics. His policies revolve around core safety and infrastructure development, protecting the choice of students to live in off-campus neighborhood rental properties, and helping the city stay within its budget.

“As a professional economist with experience as a department head during the Great Recession and my council experience, I am the best candidate to address the city’s budget and finance issues,” Nichols said in a submission to The Battalion. “As an active leader in the B-CS Chamber of Commerce, I have the community network to understand local business needs and how we can partner to recover and grow our economy.”

For more information on where to vote on Nov. 3, visit brazosvotes.org.

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