Posted April 22, 2018
On May 5th, Fair Oaks Ranch residents will make a choice between two very different candidates in the contested race for Mayor. The race is between incumbent Mayor Garry Manitzas and Wes Pieper. Mr. Pieper recently became a resident of the City as part of the annexation of our ETJ (extraterritorial jurisdiction).
As in the last election, SFOR has waited to make an endorsement until after FORHA’s Meet The Candidates debate which took place April 17th. The debate drew remarkably clear distinctions between the two candidates and it is worth an hour of your time to see it:
(If you aren’t on FB, just click “No thanks or Not now” to creating a FB account & then you can view the video)
What you will see in the video is an accurate snapshot of the campaign each candidate has waged to date. Mayor Manitzas presented a record of accomplishment based on fulfilling his campaign promises from two years ago and showed a command of the issues facing our city along with a compelling vision for our future. Mr. Pieper seemed to showed no interest in or understanding of city government. He was clearly unprepared for the debate and has no plan for the future other than a vague longing to go back to the way things used to be. Here are some facts regarding both candidates:
Mr. Manitzas has given six years of service to the city: three years on the FORHA board, one year as a Council member and the last two years as Mayor. Like the other members of SFOR, Mr. Manitzas became involved in city government to stop The Reserve, an incredibly dense development (10x) on the city’s far north side championed by ex-mayor Landman. Had The Reserve gone forward, the semi-rural nature of our city would have been forever lost. 40% of you, the residents, signed a petition which stopped development of The Reserve property and changed the direction of the city’s future.
Mr. Manitzas and another SFOR member were subsequently elected to City Council to embed the principles of appropriate, controlled development into the city’s structure, along with addressing our many long-neglected infrastructure needs. That work goes on today at an intense pace. Mayor Manitzas has either completed or is in the process of completing all of his campaign promises of two years ago. Among the most important:
• We are now a Home Rule City.
• Our ETJ is annexed, setting the stage for zoning and controlled development.
• Zoning will be based on an updated Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Map which is nearly complete.
• Our Planning and Zoning Commission is up and running.
• Numerous communication upgrades have given you greater transparency into city business and opportunities for your direct participation.
• Critical studies for upgrades to roads, water, wastewater, stormwater drainage, wastewater and mobility are either complete or well underway.
As a result of these and other accomplishments, SFOR believes we are well on our way to protecting the character of our city and our quality of life.
Mr. Pieper is very unhappy that his property was included in the recent annexation of our city’s ETJ, as allowed by the Home Rule Charter which was approved by 90%+ of your vote in the May 2017 election. He and six others have sued the city in an attempt to void the annexation. At the same time Mr. Pieper is suing the city, he is running for mayor. Here are the odd and unfortunate consequences of his actions:
• The city has spent several thousand of your tax dollars defending against Mr. Pieper’s lawsuit and could spend a great deal more depending on how far he takes it. Picture electing a Mayor who has vowed to continue to sue the city…
• The city is holding an election at a cost of at least $6000 and a great deal of staff time because Mr. Pieper, who doesn’t want to be a resident, wants to be your Mayor.
• If Mr. Pieper is elected Mayor and wins his lawsuit, he has stated he will rent a room in the city so that he meets the residency requirements for Mayor…
• Mr. Pieper has repeatedly ridiculed Mayor Manitzas, the City Council, SFOR and, by extension, the 80% of you who voted for the policies Mayor Manitzas has championed.
• Mr. Pieper’s only significant policy statement in the debate gives a big green light to developers: “I personally don’t feel what was going on here was uncontrolled development. It is reasonable development. The world is changing. You deal with it and move on.”
• Mr. Pieper is a candidate whose vision is to return to the founding principles of the city, never realizing that is exactly what Mayor Manitzas’ has set in motion. As the Mayor stated in the debate, his policies are supported by two of our city’s founders who are now playing active roles in our citizen committees and are fully in accord with Boots Gaubatz’s 2006 newsletter advocating Home Rule and warning of the future dangers of nearby development.
SFOR can only conclude that Mr. Pieper’s candidacy offers nothing more than a vague, nostalgic desire to return to the world of 30 years ago where Mr. Fair was the only developer and planning tools were unnecessary. The world has indeed changed and the absence of planning tools to manage a complex, rapidly changing environment is exactly what caused our current problems. We urge you to come out and vote for Mayor Manitzas to complete all the good work that is now under way and to make sure we continue to fulfill the founding mission statement of Fair Oaks Ranch to: “Maintain and enhance those quality of life factors which influenced the citizens to establish a residence within the City…”