President George H.W. Bush said, “Public Service is a noble calling and we need men and women of character to believe that they can make a difference in their communities, in their states and in their country.”
My wife, Mickie, and I believe this is true. We have had the honor of serving the citizens of Georgetown for almost nine years; three years as a member of the Georgetown city council and almost six years as mayor. I intentionally use the word “we” because anyone that has held elected office knows the office holder cannot effectively serve and lead without the support and sacrifice of their spouse.
Another key driver for our public service comes from the scripture. Luke 12:48 states, in part, “from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” The community of Georgetown has given us so much and we have attempted to repay this generosity in a small way by giving our time and talent to make our city better for all its citizens.
I will not seek re-election for mayor when my current term expires in May. I believe it is time for others in our community to have the opportunity to serve and lead. I am proud to leave the next mayor with a clean slate and a firm foundation to build upon our continued successes.
In 2017, the Georgetown City Council created a new vision statement for the city. Georgetown: A caring community honoring our past and innovating for the future. In my time as Mayor, I have been committed to preserving Georgetown’s unique charm during a time of incredible growth.
Over the last five years, we have grown at a rate from 4.5 to 7.8 percent annually and we are perennially highlighted as one of the fastest growing cities in the country.
While I did not set out to make Georgetown one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, I do feel an obligation to prepare for the growth we know will come by managing resources and guiding development thoughtfully. A visual cue to represent this growth and our city’s response are the four new water towers that have gone up in the last four years.
Here are just a few other examples of how Georgetown has embodied City Council’s vision:
We are the third safest city in Texas for a city of our size. In 2015, we launched our own Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to better serve our residents. We learned from the 2018 citizen survey that 97 percent of residents thought this new service, which includes ambulance services, was either good or excellent. In 2015, we also opened our state-of-the-art Public Safety Operations and Training Center, a 76,000 square foot facility, that will serve our community well for decades to come.
Continued investment and new job opportunities were a constant over the last half-decade. Downtown had $11 million in private investment in 2019 alone. Additionally, we saw the opening of the Sheraton Hotel and Convention Center, Randall’s, Holt Cat, Academy, Wolf Crossing, and we are looking forward to the opening of Costco and Wolf Lakes Village.
Fourteen years after Jack and Cammy Garey announced that they would donate their ranch and home to become a public park, the City of Georgetown held a grand opening celebration for Garey Park in 2018. An estimated 12,000 people came for the grand opening event. This 525 acre green oasis will forever be a beloved community treasure.
In 2015, the voters approved a $105 million bond package for roads and sidewalks, the largest transportation bond in the City’s history. The bond package was expected to take a decade to complete, however, we are on track to complete these projects within seven years, including the Southwest Bypass, the Rivery Boulevard extension, the soon-to-be-completed Northwest Boulevard Bridge, as well as $10 million in sidewalk improvements.
It no secret that Georgetown gained incredible fame and remarkable infamy based on our renewable energy contracts. Despite the challenge and increased cost to customers, in my view, our electric utility is on a stable path, with a renewed focus on safety, reliability, and cost-competitive rates. I look forward to seeing the good work and positive results from our new General Manager and our new portfolio manager, Shell Energy of North America.
Finally, even with the incredible growth and challenges in our utilities, the city still offers electric, water, wastewater, trash, and a tax rate, which ranks as the lowest in Central Texas. The cost of these services combined ranks as the fourth lowest in the region – currently about $25 per month more than the lowest ranking city, Round Rock.
It has been an honor and privilege to serve the good people of Georgetown. However, it is time for me to focus my time on the significant growth that continues in my CPA firm, to work on getting healthier, and to take Mickie on vacations. I also look forward to spending more time at home relaxing with friends and getting to know our two new kittens, Maggie and Willie.
It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later…most likely in one of our great restaurants in town or on the Square. Thanks for the opportunity to make history in the Greatest City on Planet Earth.