The runoff election for District 9 City Council is approaching, and both candidates talked openly with the 109 about issues and each other.
"In a runoff, ultimately, it’s about turnout,” he said.
“We have overlapping friends,” he said. “Ann has a run a clean campaign, and she’s a good person.”
The fact that both he and Zadeh were committed to running a clean, positive campaign has been refreshing, Lasater said. The campaign has been long and a lot of work, and the final weeks are mostly about encouraging people to get out and vote.
“It’s a lot of personal contact, it’s a lot of walking, it’s a lot of phone calls,” he said. “It’s a lot of knocking on doors. It’s emailing friends.”
There are many current issues, Lasater said, and if elected, the first thing he plans to do is spend time with City Council members and the mayor in order to familiarize himself with the agenda and be absolutely prepared for those at hand.
“Neither candidate has been on the City Council, no matter what you think the job entails, there’s going to be lot of learning,” he said. “You’ve got to go in with an open mind.”
One issue Lasater plans to focus on is education, he said.
“Quality education is as key to economic development as water and transportation,” he said.
A concern people have in the district, Lasater said, is about tearing down existing single-family homes in the area with the intent of building five-bedroom homes and renting the rooms out individually.
According to Lasater, that results in students who may have very different lifestyles than their neighbors and also brings in five cars where there would normally only be two. And that’s not counting the additional vehicles of friends, boyfriends or girlfriends who may be visiting.
“What you tend to have is not enough parking, cars out on the street,” he said. “That’s a real issue.”
Lasater said his home falls within the proposed overlay, and he is in favor of exploring it, but it will involve a process.
“We are in the preliminary stages of looking at it. It seems like a workable solution,” he said. “I think the proposals need to be fully vetted and discussed with the homeowners before you take a stand.“
Lasater said he is currently looking at the issue from a homeowner’s perspective. But depending on Saturday’s outcome, that may change to a City Councilperson’s point of view. He said he’ll have a good idea about the outcome when the early vote count comes rolling in around 7:15 Saturday.
This is the first time either candidate has run for office. And if he is unsuccessful, Lasater said it could be his last.
“I’m not going to be a perennial candidate,” he said.
Zadeh on the other hand, said she sees politics in her future regardless.
“I definitely will be taking part in future endeavors and initiatives in the city regardless of the outcome.“ she said.
Having served six years on the city’s Zoning Commission, Zadeh said citizen involvement and redevelopment played a large part in her campaign.
“I think citizen involvement and input from residents in the district is one of the most important things,” she said.
Zadeh said prior to having her children she was trained as a city planner.
“I’ve kept up with that, because it’s passion of mine,” she said. “I just think with my background and passion for the city I could do a good job.”
Zadeh began her campaign by reaching out to neighborhood associations, she said, and her main strategy has been meeting with people and hearing the concerns and issues they want to make sure that the next District 9 City Councilmember has a handle on.
Like Lasater, Zadeh also mentioned the proposed TCU overlay district that would limit unrelated adult occupancy.
“I applaud the city staff for bringing it forth,” she said. “I think they are well on the road to coming up with a solution.”
Zadeh said historic overlays and conservation overlays are a few options that could be looked at to prevent bungalows from being torn down and replaced with homes that do not fit the character of certain neighborhoods.
“I live in Bluebonnet Hills, and I know because of a recent zoning case that there is some interest in that neighborhood association looking at a conservation overlay,” she said.
Zadeh said campaigning has been exciting.
“I’ve met a lot of people in the district that have a lot of passion, and it gives me a lot of hope,” she said.
Speaking of Lasater, Zadeh said she knows he has worked really hard at improving the schools, and she appreciates the fact that he has stayed positive. In fact, Zadeh said Lasater recently commented that they had so many friends in common that if they had gone negative they would both be friendless.
“I don’t think it’s in either of our natures to do that anyhow,” she said.