Newly-elected Liberty Hill Mayor Jamie Williamson recently agreed to an interview via email with The Independent. The questions asked and her responses appear unedited below.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish for the City of Liberty Hill as Mayor? What issues do you consider a priority?
JW: Based on the $14,000,000. (plus interest) debt the city has incurred since 2006, I would first like to be able to view the financial status of the city. I believe the city needs to be honest and fair with the citizens. I believe the water system needs to be improved and the storage of water needs to be increased.
Q: You were critical of the previous mayor and certain members of the City Council. What actions will you take to address the issues you felt were their mistakes?
JW: “Mistakes” is your word. I have been critical of the previous councils for a variety of reasons, one being the manner of deannexation of River Bend, the lack of communication over San Gabriel Crossing apartments, the money spent on the Shin Oak Festival, the 25% tax hike, the 39% water rate increase on the low end and the 32% raise for the city manager when the economy is so unstable. The city has lost 15 businesses since the beginning of this year and most of them were based on the increase in property taxes and fees.
Q: How will you ensure that continuing your role as owner of a local newspaper would not create a bias in how city news in reported?
JW: Leader editor, James Wear, as he has for the past seven years, will continue to report city affairs in a true and factual manner.
Q:What is your vision for the Liberty Hill community?
JW: My interest is to make Liberty Hill into what the citizens want, which I believe is a tidy, friendly, fun, thriving city. The majority of the citizens have, in my opinion, been excluded and ignored in the planning of Liberty Hill’s future.
Q: With all the divisiveness within the city, what will you do as mayor to mend fences and strengthen relationships?
JW: By being honest with the citizens and encouraging involvement by residents and property owners in guiding and planning for the future.
Q: You were opposed to the previous council incurring debt and raising taxes to improve city infrastructure. As mayor, how would you propose paying for any improvements and/or funding basic city services.
JW: I was not opposed to the previous council incurring some debt; I was opposed to the process in which the previous council incurred some of the debt. Such as the process in which it took over the water corp., the 25% tax rate increase to finance some of the money that went to the city manager, and a 30 minute presentation which resulted in $3.75 million wastewater revenue bonds.
As for paying for improvements and funding basic city services, that should be addressed in the budget process. In the real world you do not look up one day and decide to buy a house, you plan and save. The government should not be any different.
Q: You were part of a slate of candidates who were elected to the council as being “pro-business.” What will you do as mayor to encourage businesses to locate here and bring new jobs?
JW: The “slate” of candidates that I was a part of was based on their values, enthusiasm, experience and professionalism. It is my belief that the biggest obstacle the city faces in ensuring water so that new businesses can be provided that service. Without the adequate water supply the wastewater treatment plant will not be as valuable.
The city, with some of it’s current ordinances, fees and codes have restricted and some times eliminated businesses in building and hiring and have in some instances forced businesses to close or build else where. It is imperative that the city review these in a fair manner.
Q: What leadership and educational experiences have prepared you for your role as mayor?
JW: I have managed McDonald’s, Red Lobster’s and I have been in business in Liberty Hill for over 20 years. When I first moved here I ran a pizza business, I went to work for my dad, who founded The Independent, and handled sales and managed the books until I was diagnosed with cancer in 1997. Prior to my diagnosis of cancer, the plan was that I would take over the reins of The Independent, however my cancer and his heart disease forced him to make the decision, in the families best interest, to sell the publication. I took over the Liberty Hill phone directory after my father passed away and have owned The Leader since July 2004 and in the midst of most of that I was raising 3 children.