Mayor ready to move forward with new-look Council
By MIKE EDDLEMAN
With the election of three candidates endorsed publicly by Mayor Rick Hall, who aligned themselves on many issues throughout the campaign, the Liberty Hill City Council has a new dynamic moving forward.
The three members elected Saturday hold a voting advantage if they vote together and advocate many of the same things Hall says he would like to see.
“I endorsed them because I feel they have some of the same visions I have as far as where we want our city to grow and how we want it to go, so that’s why I did what I did,” he said. “My goal for the City – and that’s every board, every council member, every City staff – we have to come up with a plan and moving forward as a team and a united team to do what’s best for our city.”
Hall says their election is about the same issues he won election on in May 2018.
“I think it goes back to my election last year and me talking to the citizens of Liberty Hill and their expression that they’re looking for something different,” Hall said. “I have a great deal of respect for those people just beaten in the election, but everyone keeps coming back to the point that they want something different for Liberty Hill.”
During the election, when Hall was asked about the allegations coming from the community and shared by candidates of unethical dealings in conjunction with City projects, he said he was unaware of any unethical activity.
He agrees, though, with the three Council members elected Saturday that the issue should now be investigated internally.
“I agree 100 percent,” Hall said. “I think that the worst thing that can tear down a city is a rumor mill, so for me to be able to save face with the citizens we need to either validate or invalidate the arguments that have been made. The only way to do that is to do our research and to come up and explain it. I think we need to do that to say back to the citizens that we are doing what we’re saying we’re doing. We’re holding everybody accountable to the same ethics policy.”
Hall said he had no immediate dramatic changes in mind even with the election of three candidates he supported in the race.
“I have nothing on my radar per se right now other than business as normal,” he said. “I have zero vote in a council meeting unless there is a tie in something, so again, my goal is working with the Council and carrying out the wishes of the Council and helping devise plans to keep us moving forward.”
When asked specifically about the roundabout project, which reelected Council member Liz Rundzieher and newly-elected Gram Lankford have both said they do not support at this time, Hall agreed.
“I’m not against any of the projects the city is doing, I’m against the timing for projects,” Hall said. “Everything has a place and time, and honestly when I drive around the downtown area and city limits and see the conditions of some of our roads I personally don’t feel that spending money on a roundabout right now is the best use of city funds when we have all these other road conditions that are out there.”
He said it was more perception that the city needs the roundabout, saying he has not seen any evidence of a safety issue at the intersection of Loop 332 and CR 279.
“I think it is a perception thing that we need that, but I’m more in reality that I’d rather take that money and spend it on repairing the roads in our downtown and in our city and getting the proper infrastructure in that would attract new businesses in,” Hall said.
Hall did not advocate for cutting of the roundabout project or a specific investigation into alleged ethics violations previously, because of how he felt the issues would be taken considering the tension between himself and the Council over the past year.
“I personally felt that because I didn’t have a vote, anything that I could have said would have probably not been taken correctly,” Hall said. “I allowed Council to do the job and discuss it internally and discuss it at Council meetings and move forward. I think I’m at the point now where I will be more vocal in the council meetings, state my opinion, and at the end of the day the Council will still be making the decisions.”