Tracie Storie said the Round Rock City Council needs to address neighborhood connectivity, affordability and government transparency. Incumbent Will Peckham said that is already happening, and the numerous awards given to the city prove it.
Storie, an artist and volunteer, is running against Peckham, a business owner, for Place 4 on the council, and both have a widely different view on how to help lead the city.
Peckham touted accolades — like the city placing fourth in an affordability study and being picked the seventh-best city in the nation to buy a house — that he said show the city is heading the right direction.
“We are blessed to have a variety of housing options and great jobs for our residents,” he said. “We’re doing great things and that’s why we’re winning so many awards.”
But Storie said the council often overlooks the needs of many residents, particularly those in the downtown area.
“They’re being priced out of their homes because of development that is happening right in their neighborhood,” she said. “Some zoning changes should not have been made.”
That line of thinking also applies to downtown businesses, Storie said, which face rising rents and property taxes. She said Svante’s restaurant on Main Street closing this week is an example of why the city must offer incentives so downtown can be “more than a few blocks of bars.”
Peckham, who owns a downtown business, Round Rock Travel, said the city has done a lot for businesses in the area. And he said the city has one of the lowest tax rates in the region.
“We have to do more to help business and the community,” he said. “But I’m not sure if incentivizing is the best answer.”
Storie has called out council members for what she called a lack of transparency and public outreach. She called for town hall meetings outside of the council chambers and more regular meetings with neighborhood groups.
“They shouldn’t be so tied up with the Round Rock Chamber that they put business first,” she said of the current council. “They should put people first.”
Peckham said the public has several options like the city website and recorded council meetings to stay informed.
“I think there’s a lot of transparency,” he said. “We broadcast meetings live, add inserts to utility bills and have information on the (city) website. But individuals need to take the initiative to take those avenues.”
Storie said connectivity between neighborhoods through trails and sidewalks should be another major priority. She said the council has paid too much attention to new development while overlooking older neighborhoods.