Why It Matters...
My training over the years, in the field of Geography, made me particularly qualified for being on City Council in the city of San Marcos, Texas. My Master's Degree is in Environmental Geography, with a concentration in Environmental Justice. This phrase does not just mean that I am interested in the natural environment alone. It is also an indicator of the human impact upon that environment as well as the built environments we humans create and live in from day to day.
Environmental Justice has also been called Environmental Equity and Environmental Racism. It is primarily concerned with alleviating the effects of negative environmental externalities upon American sub-cultures relegated to those limited and stress-inducing environments for economic and racial reasons.
Therefore, Environmental Justice has a lot to do with criminal justice reform, as well as securing the environmental future for our posterity.
To that end, in my time on City Council, November of 2018 to November of 2020, I worked to make sure the City of San Marcos was set firmly upon a path toward environmental sustainability. I am proud to say that with the enthusiastic support and assistance of city staff we were able to make a real impact upon creating and meeting new sustainability measures. These included shifting our energetic balance between fossil fuels and renewables and continuing to seek better ways to store power and fit our newest buildings with sustainability features, assuring their compliance with some of the highest standards in the industry. We continued to fit the built environment in San Marcos with flood mitigating berms, as well as updating the sewage systems, using federal funding to prevent future disasters from having such heavy tolls upon our people and property.
My work with the Board of Directors of the Alliance Regional Water Authority (ARWA) in securing the water future for San Marcos and some of the surrounding entities has assured us a steady source of fresh water coming from the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer well into the future. For a region turning from semi-arid to arid under the threat of Global Warming, this is a particularly relevant source of security. This process has been in motion for some years now and it has been my honor to have been present between 2018-20 as we have worked on the primary pumping station and roads and continue to secure the land to run the pipelines here to San Marcos and surrounding areas.
As the Chair of the Criminal Justice Reform committee - made up of myself and 2 other city council members - I guided the process toward intrinsic reform as we have all been further educated by incidents at the national level in the past year and a half across our country. We were able to pass an ordinance for Cite and Release, which reduces the chance for minor offenders (Class C, some class B and A) to be taken to jail and be cited instead, then having to appear before a Magistrate to satisfy their original offense.
The city has continued to address these issues. Hays County has made inroads on creating a Public Defender's office and a Cite and Diversion prosecutorial process has been nominally implemented. Even though moving toward a Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) model of policing - where counselors are made available to offenders at the point of initial contact with Law Enforcement - has fallen by the wayside in recent years, it remains part of the change that needs to happen.
In the past few years, I have had the honor of sitting on the boards of our local Radio Station, KZSM, the Calaboose African American History Museum and the Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) Historical Museum, here in the city of San Marcos, Texas. Celebrating our city, a gem of Central Texas, has been what it was all about! In music, in art, in education, this small oasis nestled between two great cities, Austin and San Antonio, deserves to protect its community histories and culture and we must do all that we can to assure that outcome.