Cedar Park voters will head to the polls on Saturday to choose who will prevail to become part of the city’s leadership team for the next year. It is the only local race as this is an “off” year for elections in both the city of Leander and Leander ISD.
Two incumbents have incurred opposition in their re-election bids for the Cedar Park city council, and a third is running unopposed, according to applications filed with city secretary LeAnn Quinn.
Cedar Park council seats up for consideration are places 1, 3 and 5, currently held by Stephen Thomas, Lyle Grimes and Jon Lux, respectively. Thomas is unopposed, but Grimes is in competition with Anne Duffy, and Lux is toe-to-toe with Heather R. Jefts.
Early voting ran from April 24 - May 2.
Thomas is seeking re-election to Place 1 with the goal of reducing long-term debt, utilizing short-term notes and cash to more effectively and efficiently provide city services.
“I have been working on the council for a number of years on tax base diversification and economic development to ensure the long-term financial health of the city and to reduce the property tax rate. I currently chair the Blue Ribbon Committee on Tax Rate and Bonds and have aggressively worked to reduce bond debt and associated interest,” the incumbent said.
Thomas, an 18-year Cedar Park resident, has two tours of council service, the first from 2005-2009 and his current tenure having begun in 2011. He now serves as mayor pro tem, too.
“I hope to continue my work on city finances as well as work on future economic development opportunities and redevelopment planning,” Thomas said.
“While there are many issues and concerns to address, it is important to continue to develop solutions for flooding and water drainage. This is a costly undertaking and will require a creative approach to planning and financing, but it is important that the city protects the safety of people and property in Cedar Park,” he said.
Thomas is human resources director for TMF Health Quality Institute. He and his wife, Nancy, have been married for 35 years and have two adult children, Meredith Soch and Courtney Walker.
Place 3 incumbent, Grimes, has been on the council since 2013 for a total of four years of service. “I am seeking re-election because I am dedicated to our community and the future of our city,” he said.
“Cedar Park has seen amazing growth in jobs and population and new shops, restaurants and businesses. My desire is to keep Cedar Park from being more than just another city; my desire is to make sure it is still our hometown,” Grimes said.
To that end, Grimes said his specific goal is to ensure low taxes, support emergency services, reduce traffic, encourage job growth and preserve city parks and trails.
“The biggest challenge is managing the continued growth. With the increased population and local jobs, I will continue to focus on making it easier for people to move throughout Cedar Park,” said Grimes.
Grimes said that during his time on the council the city has opened new roads, improved intersections and added turn lanes and capacity to many streets. “I am committed to continuing to work on making driving easier throughout the city,” he said.
Grimes is a five-year Cedar Park resident and, professionally, a corporate sales manager for American Airlines. He and his wife, Elexis, have been married for 10 years and have two sons, 17-year-old Caleb Monticone and nine-year-old Joshua.
Also vying for Place 3 is Anne Duffy, an 18-year Cedar Park resident who believes in serving others. “My entire adult life, I have served,” Duffy said.
A former naval officer and a registered nurse, Duffy and her husband, Leander police Lt. Derral Partin, have been married for 16 years and have two children, Addison, 13, and Padraig, 10.
“My goal as a council member will be to represent the citizens and provide transparency. I will bring new ideas and perspective to this role,” she said.
“Being attentive to citizens’ needs, while promoting community engagement, are important to me. I want to foster an inclusive culture as our city grows more diverse,” she said.
As to a strategic vision for Cedar Park, her interest is future development. “The city’s current plan allows for an increasing and an inordinate amount of commercial, office and retail space. I would like to see attention paid to less of a shortsighted approach of over-development and sacrifice of green space to one more focused on a healthy, vital city.
“Cedar Park is nearly built out, and I aim to promote smart growth. Future projects, such as the development of the quarries, need to involve input from all stakeholders focusing on a quality of life as well as economic value,” she said.
Ten-year Cedar Park resident Jon Lux seeks re-election to Place 5, a seat he has held since December 2012.
An IT professional for FICO, Lux and his wife, Michelle, a Leander High School teacher, have been married for five years. He is the father of two college-aged children.
Of his past five years of council service, Lux said, “I am proud and honored to be a part of the remarkable growth our city is experiencing.
“Our retail and office (sector) have never been stronger, allowing us to lower our tax rate four consecutive years. I will continue that trend, balancing our budget and working for a fifth consecutive year for a lower tax rate,” Lux said.
Lux also vowed to continue supporting city police and firefighters and ensuring they have resources and equipment needed to provide safety.
“Public safety has and will always be my biggest concern. For any city to thrive, families and business need to feel safe. I will work to complete our five fire stations and the expansion and improvement of our police station,” he said.
Lux cites several challenges to the future of Cedar Park including power line proposals, Bell Boulevard and quarry redevelopment projects and transportation issues. “All of these require an experienced presence. I will use my talents and decades of extensive experience in the military, private sector and city government to continue the great work we have been doing,” said Lux.
Also seeking to win Place 5 on the council is Heather R. Jefts, a 12-year Cedar Park resident.
“I am running because I want to bring transparency and accountability to our council, which has become very insular,” she said.
Jefts said expenditure of sales and property tax money is the biggest issue facing the city.
“The Bell Boulevard project is a problem. This issue has been driven through without proper consideration and oversight. The input committee was largely appointments from among the council's friends and colleagues,” she alleged.
“A bond was passed by inserting it at the end of a roads and transportation project instead of having it as a stand-alone issue.
“There is not a good traffic study, there is not a plan to help business owners stay afloat and they are not addressing concerns of residents and business owners in that corridor. There isn’t even discussion on the costs of buying out landowners and where funding for this will come from,” she said.
Jefts said she supports a more open dialogue on the council for fresh ideas and perspectives.
“I am a long-time resident, and I’m willing to step up and be an advocate for citizens, small local businesses and our first responders,” Jefts said.
Jefts and her husband, Richard, have been married for 18 years. She has two teenaged sons and she is a self-employed as a swim coach and instructor.