Jones challenges Rundzieher for Place 5
By MIKE EDDLEMAN
Among the contests for three Liberty Hill City Council seats is the race between nine-term council member Liz Rundzieher and first-time candidate Angela Jones, who has lived in downtown Liberty Hill for six years.
Rundzieher did not respond to multiple requests by phone and e-mail, for an interview with The Independent on her candidacy.
The choice to challenge Rundzieher in Place 5 was more about Jones’ own campaign rather than the opponent on the ballot, she said.
“I don’t have anything negative to say about my opponent,” she said. “I appreciate the years of service she has put in and I understand she has been on the Council more or less since 1999, and I am definitely not interested in having a contentious campaign. I respect her, but at the end of the day there are only a certain amount of seats and if I want one I have to pick one.”
For Jones, the decision to run revolves around one primary concern.
“I really wanted to see strong leadership on our Council and I know our city limits are small, and that limits the availability of people available to serve, but I really want to see strong leadership,” she said. “I see our city council as a role of service through leadership. I’ve questioned things that have happened, and not being an insider I’ve wondered about why certain things are happening.”
Over the last couple of years, some of what Jones has seen and heard about the city has made her question that leadership.
“When I see our city painted in a negative light in big newspapers like The Statesman, seeing stuff about our former mayor (Rick Hall), it just makes me question what’s going on, and ultimately that leads me back to why I say we need good leadership,” she said. “I don’t know our former mayor, I don’t know what was happening exactly. I just think that we need a council that can lead our city in the right direction without all of the politics and the negativity.”
The chance to step into one of those leadership roles on the Council would mean an opportunity to focus on a handful of core issues.
“Ultimately, I just want to serve the citizens of Liberty Hill and make this a special place to live, while still influencing the growth we’re experiencing. I’m passionate about preserving what makes our town unique, which is our downtown area.”
The downtown of Liberty Hill was the first draw for Jones and her family, and she believes without focus that could disappear and take away what’s special here.
“When we decided to move here six years ago, I chose this area because of the potential I saw,” she said. “What I’m very passionate about and hope to push for is creating a walkable downtown and creating a safe downtown so that people who live there can walk to businesses and enjoy spending time with their families.”
Transportation – all over town – is a growing concern for Jones, starting in her own neighborhood with the intersection of Loop 332 and CR 279 next to Wetzel Park.
“We have the splash pad, then across the street the parking lot that just opened up and there is no safe way to cross the street,” she said. “Transportation, safety, and roads are very important to me and I will definitely be pushing to address those if I’m elected.”
But traffic concerns need to be addressed all over town.
“One thing that concerns me is the safety on SH 29, with the speed limit and the businesses that are developing,” she said. “I’m concerned when people are turning both directions to go into businesses. I feel like we need to work with (Texas Department of Transportation) and the county to really take a look at that to make it more safe, and also to slow people down through there where there are businesses. I think it would be good for the business owners and improve the overall safety for everyone driving through.”
In all things related to the council and city, Jones wants to see increased focus on transparency and communication.
“I haven’t quite understood, and I’ve been frustrated myself as a citizen, why more questions aren’t being asked,” she said. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with prying and asking more from some council members and trying to get information to the public. If you have a good reason for doing something then explain it.”
Part of that effort includes reaching out to residents more.
“Ultimately, I am for getting the community involved,” she said. “I plan on walking neighborhoods. I have a Facebook page. I’m welcoming all citizens to ask questions and I think more transparency is very important.”
The outreach efforts should not stop at the city limits, though.
“I want those outside of the city to feel welcome and work with those inside the city,” Jones said. “I see it as a partnership and we need one another.”
The owner of an interior design company and mother of four, Jones feels her family focus is a good fit for the Council.
“My husband and I have four kids and we live in the downtown area,” she said. “I believe Liberty Hill residents love their children, you can see that everywhere. I think the fact that I have a family and children gives me a perspective on Council that might not be there now.”
In her business she has worked with budget, staffing, money management and other aspects of running a business so the responsibilities of the council are ones she says she is ready for.
“Those all are very important skills and things that you need to be on the council,” Jones said. “I think being a strong leader in general, in all areas of life will feed into me being an effective council member. The business helps me with management experience, I volunteer with my church, we’re all about family.”
In the end, Jones sees herself as a resident and voter like everyone else, interested in the chance to represent her neighbors as the city grows.
“I’m just like everyone else,” she said. “What I want for our city is for it to be safe, functional and most importantly I want it to be community. When I think about what Liberty Hill could look like in five or 10 years I want the citizens to have options for jobs, affordable housing, leisure, green space.”