Cook, Rossfield race highlights divide on Woodway council

Politics


In the campaigns for the May 4 Woodway council election, incumbent Council member Storey Cook is facing a challenger who is lining up with two council members known to make waves.

Andrea Rossfeld, an insurance claims adjuster who has lived in Woodway since 2020, is challenging Cook for Ward 2 Place 1, one of two contested seats on the Woodway City Council. Early voting begins Monday for the May 4 school and municipal elections across Texas.







Rossfeld


Rossfeld said David Russell and Dave Keyston, who are not on the ballot this year, approached him about running for council because he sees them in touch with them on many issues. Aldermen are also helping the campaign of Richard Hess, who is running in Ward 3, Place 1 against incumbent Gayle Avant and political newcomer Ken Sury, a communications specialist.

In the past year, Russell and Keyston have made headlines in the normally quiet suburb of 9,600 by proposing a drought-related building moratorium, voting against a subdivision that other city officials said had met the requirements of the city and trying to screw up a million dollar state. grant for sidewalks near Woodway Elementary School.

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However, Rossfield said she will study the issues herself and make her own decisions.

“My vote on the council will be mine,” Rossfeld said Wednesday. He added that he likes to be “in that moderate, moderate mindset.”

“Let's compromise and make a decision that's best for the people,” he said.

Cooking Notes Achievements

Meanwhile, Cook has shared resources with Sury on his campaign, but said they are not being released as a ticket.







House cook

to cook


Cook, who has lived in Woodway since 2007, ran unopposed in 2020 during the remaining year in the term of Councilman Kevin Kehlenbach, who had moved out of town and encouraged her to run. He ran unopposed for a full term in 2021.

Cook, a mental health professional, said she's running again because she loves her city.

“I have worked very hard to learn about the issues facing Woodway since August 2020, when I took the oath of office,” Cook said. “And I want to continue because I don't feel that my work ends there (at the city hall) and I have good working relations with our staff. I don't think that's a bad thing. I have also had good relationships with community members. I feel like a good representative of our community.”

Cook recently clashed with Russell over a funding deal with the Texas Department of Transportation to use $1 million in state money and $263,000 in city money to build sidewalks along the Midway and Estates drives. Russell on March 25 convinced her to abstain because a supporter had a campaign sign along the route. But in a rematch last week, Cook voted with the majority to support sidewalks, over Russell's objections.

Cook said he appreciates the dissenting voices on Woodway's board and acknowledges that the dissent pushes him to think more clearly about why he supports what he supports.

He said he saw the sidewalk near Woodway Elementary School as an opportunity the council needed to take advantage of.

“I've heard a call to the sidewalks the whole time I've been on the council,” Cook said. “To be able to offer this with the help of a grant felt like a home run.”

He said during his tenure the council has passed an ordinance requiring sidewalks for all new residential construction and would like to expand that for future commercial construction.

“And I think there's more we could do with the roads, I'd love to continue to explore that,” Cook said.

Cook said he's heard people say Woodway hasn't paid enough attention to water infrastructure, but he challenges those criticisms, pointing to a water master plan the council approved shortly after taking office. seat

“Now, we did have to go to the bond market to get funds to overhaul the sewer system, but we're trying to follow the master plan to replace the existing water lines and extend new ones in stages, so we can plan – it and budget it. and not have a loan,” Cook said.

He said he thinks improving street lighting is also a good idea.

“I think part of my fiscal and stewardship responsibility is to make sure we have a strong infrastructure and that we're planning ahead,” he said.

Cook said part of planning ahead for infrastructure is having a comprehensive plan.

“I believe wholeheartedly in having a comprehensive plan,” Cook said. “I think we have to take care of our economic development.”

He said he has tried to balance the interests of residents and businesses in areas where commercial and residential use collide.

He said he supports continuing with the property tax rate without new revenue, as calculated by the state of Texas.

“We can do that if we're willing to pursue economic development and increase our sales tax base,” Cook said.

Woodway's current property tax rate is 37.4 cents per $100 valuation, compared to 54.7 cents in Hewitt and 75.5 cents in Waco.

Cook's goals for her next term would include improving the accessibility of the Carleen Bright Arboretum for all people with mobility issues and families with young children in strollers. And he wants to continue with the proactive maintenance of other infrastructures, as the council is currently doing with the water lines.

Rossfeld's challenge

Rossfeld said he became interested in Woodway city government when a storm drain near his home backed up and flooded his garage frequently the first year he lived in the city. This drain has since been fixed.

In her current job as a claims adjuster for commercial, home and auto claims with a major national insurance company, Rossfeld sees a variety of contract and claim types, from water main breaks to to natural disasters. He believes this gives him the ability to understand the law, contracts and infrastructure projects that will be presented to the council.

A key issue for Rossfeld is infrastructure: roads, water pipes, sewers, sidewalks.

“I would love to see a sidewalk all the way to Estates Drive and all the way down Bosque Boulevard,” Rossfeld said.

He said he wasn't opposed to the sidewalk grant, but found it curious that it would only fund a sidewalk around Woodway Elementary School, a vacant lot and a coffee shop, and nothing else. He said the council must inform the public of the real purpose of the grant.

“I am against sidewalks that only benefit a few people and special interests,” Rossfeld said in a text message Wednesday.

He also questions the city's plan to reconfigure the residential portion of Estates Drive, reducing vehicular traffic to two lanes and a turn lane while adding a pedestrian and bicycle lane. He said this would cause drivers to turn off Estates and drive through residential neighborhoods, putting residents at greater risk.

Rossfeld also questions what would happen if the public safety department had an important call during school drop-off and pick-up hours, when traffic is reduced to one lane going in each direction.

Rossfeld said transparency is another big issue. Rossfeld wants all major city spending to be thoroughly explained to the public before it comes up for a council vote. He wants it explained at council meetings and posted on the city's website. He also advocates video streaming for all city council meetings.

As for transparency, Cook said he supports continuing to make audio recordings of city hall meetings, but also wants to expand that to video streaming.

Rossfeld said major projects costing millions of taxpayer dollars, excluding infrastructure and other basic needs, should be put on the ballot for public approval.

Rossfeld said he will make all his decisions on the council trying to seek the benefit of the community as a whole and not any particular group.

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