A business consultant and a construction project manager are running against each other for the district six position on the Georgetown City Council in the Nov. 2 election.
Both Chere Heintzmann, 66 and Jake French, 34, say they are experienced with local politics.
They are vying for the seat left vacant by Rachael Jonrowe, who resigned over the summer. She was re-elected in November 2020 to her fourth three-year term in office.
District 6 includes the Georgetown downtown square and neighborhoods to the south of it.
Heintzmann said the concerns she hears from district residents include maintaining the charm of the downtown square, improving walkability in the area and keeping housing affordable.
“We have people coming in and putting in huge modern homes right next to small inner city homes that have been there for 60 to over 100 years,” she said.
Some of the residents are also concerned about the homeless people camping in some of the district’s parks, Heintzmann said.
“Homelessness is a little more hidden in Georgetown but it does exist. … We (the city) have to address that,” she said.
Heintzmann said her goals if elected include “ensuring smart growth by preserving our history while managing and guiding future development.”
She said she also wants to expand mobility in the district by improving roads, bridges, sidewalks and transportation services.
The city stopped its fixed-route bus system on Oct. 1 because it couldn’t get enough ridership.
“We have to rethink what is appropriate transportation,” Heintzmann said.
She said her proven leadership and expertise in company growth and complex contract negotiations at a senior executive level make her the best candidate for the job.
“In addition, I understand the complexity of local governance, having served two terms on the General Government and Finance Advisory Board, co-chaired the city’s Mobility Bond Committee and currently serving as vice-chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission for the city of Georgetown,” said Heintzmann.
Her opponent, French, said the biggest concerns he hears from district residents include pedestrian safety, parking, a lack of public transportation options and housing affordability.
He said residents also are concerned about the Confederate statue on the county courthouse grounds, which is right in the middle of the downtown square.
“A lot of people want it removed because they feel it’s racist and doesn’t reflect their values,” French said. He said many people he talked to also wanted to remove the statue because they were tired of seeing weekly disturbances at the site between people who wanted to move it and those who didn’t want it removed.
A decision to request that the statue be moved can only be made by the Williamson County Commissioners Court, since it is on county property. The court is required to ask the Texas Historical Commission for permission to remove the monument.
Both French and Heintzmann said they are in favor of moving the statue to a different location. The Georgetown City Council voted against a proposed resolution in June to ask the commissioners to request the removal of the statue.
French said that if elected he would work to improve sidewalks and crosswalks on the heavily-used pedestrian routes in his district.
“I want to work on parking solutions that increasingly have become a problem around the square and work on a long-term parking garage solution that does not detract from the aesthetic of downtown,” he said. He also wants to develop public transportation solutions, he said, because the city’s fixed route bus service did not work.
He said he has experience working with government in various cities because of his job in construction management.
“My job has provided me the opportunity to work closely and interact with city staffs, planning and zoning commissions, city councils, fire departments, transportation authorities, utility companies, and a myriad of other governmental agencies in the entitling, planning, and construction of projects,” French said.
He said he is the best candidate because he is committed to listening and communicating with residents of District 6, as well as all other Georgetown residents.
Early voting starts Monday for the Nov. 2 election. The ballot for Georgetown residents also includes multiple charter amendments.
About the candidates:
Education: Attended the University of Texas with a major in accounting
Community involvement: Served on the city’s general government and finance advisory board; co-chaired the city’s mobility bond committee; currently serves as vice-chair of Georgetown’s planning and zoning commission, volunteers with nonprofit CareBOX program,” which serves Central Texas cancer patients going through treatment; volunteers with Habitat for Humanity; volunteers with Texas Special Olympics; and teaches entrepreneurship to high school students and mentors them.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in business and economics from Wheaton College (Illinois)
Community involvement: Serves on the Georgetown Transportation Advisory Board; serves as vestry member at Light of Christ Anglican Church in Georgetown; volunteered at Ride on Center for Kids, a non-profit that provides horse-riding therapy; volunteered with Habitat for Humanity; and volunteered with TreeFolks, an Austin non-profit helping people plant and care for trees.