The Van Alstyne City Council race promises to be a thrilling one for the five candidates vying for two open Council seats. In Place 1, a three-way contest features incumbent Kaaren Teuber squaring off against challengers Larry Cooper and James Lewis. In Place 2, incumbent Jim Smith tries to retain his seat against challenger Timmerle Kelly.
The Van Alstyne Leader has issued questionnaires to the five candidates in the May elections. Each candidate was held to a strict 75-word limit in their response.
Name: Larry Cooper
Occupation: Attorney and Counselor at Law
Position for which you are running: Van Alstyne City Council Place 1
Previous experience with city or school district: As an assistant district attorney for Grayson County, I prosecuted and negotiated settlements in hundreds of misdemeanors in Justice Court 4, Van Alstyne, including truancy cases filed. I have participated in several Van Alstyne outreach activities with the First Christian Church. The activities include: Great Days of Service, Trunk or Treat and Fourth of July Watermelon Outreach. I have been present for several city council meetings and have watched others on line.
What would you like to change? Most important, I intend to gain the citizens’ confidence as someone who will promote their concerns. I want to talk to the citizens, investigate their concerns and present them to the city council, mayor, and people who make things happen. I want to help make good things happen for the citizens of Van Alstyne. I would like to help change the tenor of the city council meetings – they are much too adversarial.
Where do you stand on the City Manager vs. Strong Mayor form of municipal government?: I favor the city manager form of municipal government. In the style of government that Van Alstyne has, the mayor and councilors are unpaid, part-time legislators. The city manager, through the various skilled departments under his management, keeps the city running. Mayors and councilors may come and go through the election process, and so the continuity in maintenance and progress rest in a competent, full-time city manager with the means to run the city according…
Why are you the best candidate for the position? I love Van Alstyne. This city is my home and I have a strong desire to help it develop for the sake of its fine citizens. With expertise in law and as a negotiator, I will be an asset to city government. Great change is coming. Rather than allow change to overrun the city or change it in ways our citizens won’t enjoy, I would rather help tailor change while keeping a quaint city center.
Name: James Lewis
Occupation: Self-employed construction — Lewis & Sons
Position for which you are running: City Council Place 1
Previous experience with city or school district: Volunteer fire department (Van Alstyne.) Position - lieutenant
What would you like to change? I wouldn’t want to change anything. I would like to improve.
Where do you stand on the City Manager vs. Strong Mayor form of municipal government? I can’t see that the City Manager form of government is broke, so therefore I can’t see it needs to be fixed.
Why are you the best candidate for the position? Because I love my city and the citizens in this city.
Name: Kaaren Teuber
Occupation: Retired however actively participating in many city and local area activities
Position for which you are running: I am running for re-election to City Council Place 1
Previous experience with city or school district: Served the city as Election Judge for 16 years; previously assigned to the Local Emergency Planning Committee; two years ago appointed to serve on the Economic Development Corp board and the VA representative on the Grayson County Transportation Advisory Committee. Taught English-as-a-Second-Language at VA schools and surrounding area schools through Sherman ISD program.
What would you like to change?: I believe we need to stop excessive spending, pass regulations that make sense and eliminate ones that are no longer needed and consider the citizens in all decisions that are enacted. Street repair and its proper funding are critical. Review and revise the 20-year plan for growth; then I would like to hold combined meetings with citizens and city organizations to discuss the city’s needs with emphasis on youth activities.
Where do you stand on the City Manager vs. Strong Mayor form of municipal government?: I stand with whatever the voters decide.
Why are you the best candidate for the position?: I have a strong background in management and problem solving. I have an open line of communication with the citizens, and they contact me to help them with city-related difficulties. I support faith, family and freedom.
Name: Timmerle Kelly
Occupation: Financial/Business Consultant
Position for which you are running: I am running for City Council (Alderman) Place 2
Previous experience with city or school district: I serve as Treasurer of Van Alstyne’s Economic Development Corporation. I am a Friend of the Library, an active member of Keep Van Alstyne Beautiful, a volunteer for Kids Eat Free, have volunteered with Meals on Wheels and helped plan graduation events for the VAHS Class of 2013. My business is a Chamber of Commerce member and I have volunteered to help with Fall Der All. I volunteer in and promote Van Alstyne!
What would you like to change? We need to continue to prepare: growth is headed our way. We need to get new infrastructure in ahead of the homes and retail that are coming to enhance our citizens’ quality of life, offset financial obligations the city has incurred, and provide the means to correct and upgrade our current infrastructure. Let’s welcome, yet prepare for the growth. I would love to help to make Van Alstyne’s downtown a destination point.
Where do you stand on the City Manager vs. Strong Mayor form of municipal government? I am in favor of the Council-City Manager form of government. A well-educated City Manager managing the day-to-day affairs of our city and enforcing the ordinances passed by the City Council is best for our city. National and state regulations are growing complex. If incompetent, a City Manager can be reprimanded/ dismissed by the Council, while a Mayor would operate with little accountability and require an election process to change.
Why are you the best candidate for the position?: I love Van Alstyne and the people here and I know I have the city’s and citizens’ best interests at heart. I am hoping that my 20 years of experience in business and finance can be of help to the city. I have experience in Savings and Loan corporate management, nonprofit business and financial management, investment management and other business and financial management.
Name: James "Jim" Smith
Occupation: Owner/Manager - Buck Snort BBQ in downtown Van Alstyne
Position for which you are running: City Council Place 2
Previous experience with city or school district: I have already served 4 years in the current position
What would you like to change? I would like our City leaders both elected and hired to be more respectful and responsive to the needs and requests of the citizens of Van Alstyne. I feel each department head needs to be required to have a balanced budget. Not just look at the City budget as a whole but each department needs to stay in balance. The City needs to spend everything that is budgeted for each department to meet the goals…
Where do you stand on the City Manager vs. Strong Mayor form of municipal government? I think the Strong Mayor form of government will save the City a considerable about of money. Currently, the City Managers position is costing the City over $113,000.00 a year. There will be a person in the position of City Administrator, which will be a much lower cost, which will give guidance to the Mayor and Council on the day to day operation of the City.
Why are you the best candidate for the position?: I have been on the Council for 4 years. I have been through the budget process for several years and will know the history of the needs of the City of Van Alstyne. I am readily available to the citizens of Van Alstyne since my business is just two door down from City Hall. I will continue to respond to the needs and wishes of the citizens of Van Alstyne and will balance the needs of the City and the needs of the citizens