What are Mark Sanderson’s Goals if elected to Castle Hills City Council?

To the question, how should our city be managed and operated I have a few thoughts. In our city governance type, city council/city manager, the city manager should report to council and all employees should report to the city manager. Is that happening now? I have my doubts. I believe that we should encourage and enforce a chain of command so that issues can be efficiently handled. I believe that we should right-size all departments, pay better than average and expect above average results. You get what you pay for – and this is certainly true in this market. For todays purpose, I will define ‘right size’ as ‘How are other successful cities our size and composition doing it?’ and ‘What has changed in the last n years that necessitates adding this employee?’ Remember that we ran this city, which was exactly the same size at its birth, with about 20 to 25% less employees before approximately year 2000. Why has this changed? Are there regulatory requirements that dictate we hire 20 to 25% more folks? I’m not sure, but I’ll certainly find out if I’m elected. Remember that city hall is NOT a jobs program. We hire competent folks and pay them well to get a specific job done. If given the choice between keeping someone from having their home flooded every year ( yes, that is happening NOW ) and supporting a bloated city personnel head count I chose helping citizens every time – period. There are those who vehemently disagree with me on this point, and exclaim that the city employees are our ‘crown jewel’, the ‘center’ of city life. I disagree. I believe we tax payers deserve that title – that we are the center and we should start acting like it.

I will put every expense, including employees, under a microscope. We can only afford what we can afford – nothing more. I would measure all employee performance, not just the city manager performance, by execution and results. Given what I know today, we as a city are excellent at executing never-ending series of engineering studies and terrible at actually getting things done. I hope to change that. I would rather repair something with good knowledge at hand than continually analyze something over and over again hoping for different results . . . I prefer action – getting things done. This current policy of vacillation, excuse-making and finger pointing is precisely how got into the mess we are seeing today. Sometimes the hardest thing is that first step – and we are proving that true today. Our current long-running paralysis stems from a bizarre fear of taking concrete action. It is certainly difficult to fail if you don’t try anything at all. We are so afraid to try, so afraid to fail, so afraid that we’ll be shamed in front of our peers and political competitors that the easy way is to do nothing at all. I want to change that. I want action. Ask folks who know me. I don’t settle. No more municipal paralysis if I have anything to say about it.

Furthermore, many on city council wants unrealistic guarantees from civil engineers and require perfection in results. This is completely unrealistic. No one can ever guarantee results with systems that interact in such dynamic ways with nature – period. Nature always wins. We can however, do the best we can with what we have. We can certainly act on the knowledge that we currently have, that we have paid for. I’m not a CivE nor am I a hydraulic engineer, and I don’t play one on TV. Since I made the decision to run for city council, I certainly have not had enough time to understand each flood control area within the city limits. Again, my first instinct is to act. If we already have some plans that will improve the quality of life of those that are immediately affected by flooding – then we should start the implementation at once. We will never have 100% of the answers, but right now we have a big fat ZERO. If we can get score of 50 or 60% . . . that would be a great improvement – over ZERO! We’ve done a great job at sitting around, blaming one side or another and at the same time NOT approving $$ for getting things fixed. This must end – now.

In furtherance of any solvent enterprise both income and expense must be taken into account. Because of their insular qualities, governments are notoriously inefficient in the market place. When competition is expressed through political shenanigans and manipulation, effectively executed businesses strategies will not occur. The reason is quite clear; municipally supported commercial operations goal is self-sustenance through city handouts and political consideration – not market place forces that they are artificially insulated from. The city councils current obsession with money-making schemes de-focuses our efforts and lends justification to those who would put dubious commercial ventures in someone else backyard – certainly not theirs. With no legal means to enforce monopolies, these schemes die an expensive death in the marketplace with the taxpayer holding the bill. I will do my best to end all engagement in these efforts, as they are doomed to failure. Quite simply, if it was such a great money-making idea why hasn’t a private individual or organization started it? Because it is not a good idea.

If we don’t have the income NOW, then expenses MUST be cut or taxes raised. Tax raises here in Castle Hills have been notoriously difficult to acquire, and these tax raises do tend to affect those on fixed comes to much greater degree than those that are still employed. I have no desire to tax life-long residents out of home and property because we as a city are unable execute a public policy that is reasonable and fair to all. This is the terrible reality of running any kind solvent enterprise – either public or private. All expenses should be put under close scrutiny. In my view there are NO sacred cows.

I can tell you that for all cases, I will never approve a project that might make money for the city and puts residential property at risk for commercialization or condemnation. I would never, as is being considered by my competition, purchase at city expense party houses/convention centers that would, for traffic control and safety purposes, require condemnation of private property. In order for this current fantasy convention center to be practical, bypass road(s) must built that does not interfere with the nearby elementary school or hinder Honeysuckle emergency vehicle access. Furthermore, I would never consider in-city limits auto impound lots in any way shape or form – period.

I believe that we should do our best to maintain Castle Hills unique residential city qualities – and not give into the temptations of a quick dollar. Consider that Castle Hills is not growing, will not grow and cannot expand we must make do with what we have now at least for the foreseeable future. As more younger families move in we must create realistic plans that take our current and future financial situation into account. We cannot afford to fantasize about …. what if … we should just focus on what is – now.

Furthermore, I will not consider ’boutique’ city services that require, in many cases, overtime to be paid to city employees. These de-focus our efforts from what are the core needs of our city – Streets, Flooding, Safety, Quality of Life and New Families. Everything else is fluff. I believe we should focus on the achievable, and not on some bizarre quasi-commercial fantasies that are based on ‘crack-pipe’ economics. Goverment entities have historically a poor record of making a profit. We should encourage private and volunteer solutions where municipal solutions are either too expensive or just won’t work.

I have spent a lot of time here explaining what I would NOT do as well as many things that I would do. Another terrible reality of residentially focused small cities is that we will never have enough income. Small cities have always had trouble with adequate income streams – and Castle Hills is no exception. I believe that the sooner we accept this and move on, the better off we will be. Task prioritization is a painful process that no one wants to do. We as individuals many times must make decisions . . . Should I buy that nice car or put more money away for savings? Should I buy junior that video game console or fix that loose door? As a small city we are in substance, no different from a family or individual that must make these series of potentially painful decisions. I want that fancy X and Y – but are we really willing to let John and his neighbors down the street be flooded out every year? I hope not.

If elected I will be focusing on residential quality life as the only guiding principal for all decisions that I make. I humbly ask for your vote so that I might be able do my part in creating a Castle Hills that everyone can enjoy living in.

Please Support Mark Sanderson For City Council Place Two

Mark Sanderson/210 848 0661/mark@markfsanderson.net

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Greetings! I live in Castle Hills, TX and am currently running for Alderman Place Two. I am married the love of my life and have the greatest son a father should dream for. Please consider me for your vote this coming election - Thanks!
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