Melissa Derrick, Place 6 city council candidate, attended Texas State’s College Democrats meeting on Wednesday evening.
College Democrats formally endorsed Melissa Derrick unanimously. After eating pizza and distributing yard signs, Derrick took questions from students.
When asked how she will keep people in San Marcos with the issue of gentrification, Derrick pointed to jobs.
“We’ve got a regional economic development team working in conjunction with an incentives board,” Derrick said. “We’ve also got Amazon. The jobs have decent wages with benefits, which is something San Marcos is seriously lacking.”
Derrick proposed placing a $10 fee on tourists desiring public access to the San Marcos River. The fee would help pay for river conservation efforts. In order to distinguish between citizens and visitors, residents would receive a sticker to bring with them when going to the river.
“We need to attract the right kind of people than just a free-for-all,” Derrick said. “People can just drive up and jump out with a 12-pack and drink all day, sitting in the water.”
Derrick said the $10 fee would attract a demographic that can afford to pay for access to the river. The fee would fund more trash receptacles and hire additional park rangers, she said.
“Tourist dollars are big for us,” Derrick said. “With that tax revenue we can do so many things to improve the city in so many ways.”
Derrick said gentrification is an issue she continues to combat, highlighting her previous volunteer efforts to preserve San Marcos neighborhoods.
Wells Wellesley, a member of College Democrats and resident of Austin, said the issue of gentrification comes down to defining San Marcos.
“I’m 100 percent ‘Keep Austin Weird,’” Wellesley said. “I want San Marcos to have its own atmosphere.”
Wellesley said Austin retains a unique atmosphere while being commercially driven.
“It needs an identity and doesn’t need to be a corporate robot,” Wellesley said.
When asked about the new hands-free ordinance city council discussed at Tuesday’s meeting, Derrick said she respected exceptions for emergency use.
“You can’t just start slapping $500 fines on people when the culture has been thus far for many years that you can use your cell phone in the car,” Derrick said. “Students can't afford that and most adults can’t afford that either.”
Follow Lexy Garica on Twitter at @lexytg.