The City of Anna is holding an election to fill premature vacancies on the City Council.
Alonzo Tutson is running for council member seat number four, after Kenneth Pelham vacated the seat in August, as previously reported by the Tribune.
Tutson has lived in Anna for five years, and is an independent consultant for non-profit and for-profit organizations involved with community development. Prior to his career as a consultant, he was an educator with McKinney ISD for 10 years.
Keeping people in the community updated was the initial reason Tutson wanted to run for seat four, but a family member spurred him into action. “I want to keep people in the loop on community events, development, board meetings and council meeting. Even though I had initially declined when a few people said I should run, the text from my youngest daughter — if only younger by two minutes — texted me, urging me to run. ‘You should do it. #GoTeamDad’ made the decision for me.”
Tutson said he has served on several boards and commissions on all levels: local, state, regional and federal. During his five years of living in the Anna community, he has served on the Anna Downtown Advisory Board. Currently, Tutson is the Vice Chair of the Anna Charter Review Commission.
“I am currently serving on the Anna Community Development Corporation and the Economic Development Corporation for the past 4 and a half years; serving as the Vice President for 4 of those years,” Tutson added.
Tutson said the vision for Anna is more “our vision for Anna than it is mine.”
“The vision is ‘a community that is engaged, equipped and empowered.’ The citizens of Anna want to continue to see the place we decided to call home by keeping it a safe place to live, labor and leisure without being overburdened with taxes,” he stated. “This is done by increasing the commercial tax base. Right now we’re at 75%-80% rooftops to businesses (figuring conservatively). Between the City of Anna and the CDC/EDC Boards land is owned along the main thorough fares to attract businesses. Not just any businesses, but the right kind of businesses that are conducive to Anna. As a CDC Board, we took the initiative to purchase the land that is now the Business Park along the Outer Loop to encourage corporations to move here in search of skilled labor and professional positions. This provides options for residents to work closer to home.
“With a broader commercial tax base and sale tax revenue, the city can continue to provide more amenities and events like Slayter Creek Park, Natural Springs Park, GlowFest, Fourth of July Celebration, The Golf Tournament and the Christmas Parade. Two things that I hear regular are facilities for our youth and seniors. We are in dire need of a Senior Center. There isn’t a place for our seniors to gather and host events or just socialize. Same for our youth. I coach summer track and I’ve spoken to a few other sports coaches. We all have come to the same conclusion; vandalism and small crimes increase in the summer due to lack of activities for our youth. An indoor gymnastics/video arcade and a movie theater will fill a void and also provide a place to hold birthday parties.”
Tutson said the city needs to separate the wants from the needs. “A new city hall is a need. Police and Fire Stations are needs. Our fire station has no place for new equipment and neither police nor fire has room for staff,” he said. “Ensuring first responders have what they need is top priority. Erecting a $17M facility without bringing it before the voters may not be the best direction to take. Personally, where the municipal building is now would be an excellent spot for city hall until the people of Anna are ready to vote for a new one.”
The subject of eminent domain is a fine line that a city and its citizens have to walk, Tutson said. “Eminent domain is always a sensitive subject because it takes away the rights of the property owner and places it in the hands of another entity. I wish cities would place themselves in the citizen’s shoes. How would a city like it if they received a letter from another party saying,’We’re taking over your city?’ Including the owners in the process in the initial stages is the proper way to handle any land issues.”
Tutson said he also believes annexation is another subject that needs to be handled correctly. “No annexation without representation. I have spoken out about this at council meetings in Anna and surrounding cities. Gobbling up land like Pacman is not the way to bring in new residents to the city. In most cases, the Extraterritorial Jurisdiction residents aren’t even made aware of a possible annexation until they get a letter stating it’s being voted on at the next council meeting. I am glad to see the Texas Laws have changed and the people in the ETJ have to vote on whether to be annexed or not. This why I stress establishing relationships with our County Commissioners, State and Federal Officials. When an issue arises, like annexation, I am confident I can call these officials and get a direct response. Anna is not alone. We have support. We just have to let our voices be heard.”
When questioned about the city logo, Tutson said he is troubled on multiple levels. “For starters, the $85,000 was divided up amongst three entities — EDC 1/3, CDC 1/3 and the City 1/3. So two-thirds came out of the budget of two boards on which I serve. Our number one objective is to be good stewards of the tax payers’ dollars. Secondly, I was one of the residents selected to be interviewed by the firm so they could get a feel for the City of Anna. Those of us interviewed were under the impression that we would be called back in to see the preliminary brands. To this day, we have heard nothing outside of the presentation at council meetings. Where is the Return On Investment (ROI)? There was a reason 97% of those in attendance did not approve of the logo, no community input. Lastly North Star has done branding for several cities in this area and presented excellent results. Somehow, someway the ball was dropped. I can’t say whether it was on the city’s end or firm’s end, but we can ill afford an $85,000 fumble.”