Candidate Q&A – Claudia Zapata – District 4, Kyle City Council

Describe your community involvement in Kyle.
As a resident, I have participated in community development surveys relating to the Comprehensive Plan and Downtown Master Plan. I also volunteer at events hosted by Kyle Parks and Rec. As a local Dem, I am been a fervent supporter of KBAD and HCDP and, when running for office, worked 24/7 to increase voter participation. My community advocacy work in Kyle began in 2020 during COVID where I worked with Hays Latinos United to provide relief, tests, and (once available) vaccines. That expanded into volunteering with the Central Texas Food Bank during distributions. Additionally, I worked with many community members in the aftermath of 2021 Winter Freeze to provide immediate support, food, and water. These involvements have continued and expanded since.
What is your favorite thing about living in Kyle?
As someone who is from Kyle, I love how closely knit our community is. We treat each other with kindness and compassion. We know how to have fun and bring a light heartedness to our interactions with one another.
Many voters are concerned about the future of Kyle. Generally, what kind of place do you want to see Kyle be in 5 years? 10? 20?
Like many, I am also concerned about the future of Kyle. That’s why I’m running for City Council. Kyle is at a very crucial moment in time where the decisions City Council makes today have the potential to either help or hurt the thousands who live here. I want to see Kyle be a thriving community where there are many programs and tools to support our community. I also understand that economic development and what’s best for our residents can sometimes be at odds with one another. By making more strategic choices and inclusive, well-rounded decisions about how and where we grow, we can ensure that the next 5, 10, and 20+ years will help Kyle be the best possible mix of a thriving community, economy, and workforce.
This has been one of the hottest, driest summers on record. Kyle has had to buy water from San Marcos two years in a row. How should Kyle address the city's immediate and long-term water needs?
Tackling future water needs has two components. First, we must understand and address the impact growth has on our water use and water supply. Second, understanding that while we can expect to tap into and/or purchase water from other sources, there is a large financial component that we—as taxpayers—will foot the bill for.
We can achieve the first component by passing resolutions such as requiring new developments to utilize rainwater harvesting. Currently, city code only “encourages” this practice. We can also incentivize water conservation practices for residents, such as providing workshops and initial rainwater harvesting supplies. Lastly, the City must be the first to demonstrate and practice water conservation. I’d propose that all City facilities and offices utilize xeriscaping and master naturalist techniques for landscaping.
The City is currently laying in more purple pipes meant to aid in water reuse practices. This is a great first step, and I would seek to build upon that. In addition, we must seek financial support from developers that seek to establish themselves in Kyle. Residents cannot and must not be expected to foot 100% of the bill for growth that they had no decision over.
To say that Kyle is growing quickly is an understatement. Do you have any concerns about this growth, and what can be done to minimize any negative impacts new homes and businesses may have on our infrastructure and community?
My background in working on Anti-Displacement initiatives has me extremely concerned about how our growth is going to and is currently effecting our community. I have seen what happens when cities do not implement protections for their residents; my abuela lived in East Austin from the early 60s/70s to about 2012-2013. The City of Austin prioritized economic development and urban density which led to rapidly increasing property values which resulted in increased property taxes. Thousands residents were forced out of their homes. I do not want the same to happen to Kyle.
A critical priority is implementing anti-displacement initiatives, programs, and ordinances. While the Downtown Master Plan encourages mixed-use zoning and our Comprehensive Plan moves us towards urban density, we must do so thoughtfully, avoiding the displacement of hundreds of residents in the process. Examples of effective anti-displacement policies include property tax relief programs that cap annual increases for long-term homeowners and home improvement grants to help homeowners maintain their properties without financial burden. These measures ensure that homeowners can stay in their homes without facing displacement due to rising property values.
Balancing economic development with community preservation poses a delicate challenge as it requires navigating between fostering growth and preserving a community's identity. Our current boom in growth is leading to over-commercialization, increased traffic congestion, and alterations in local culture. To address this, effective strategies involve the implementation of zoning regulations aligned with the community's vision such as creating walkability requirements for developers that all new developments must consider or meet minimum pedestrian and bicyclist entrances/exits between zones and offering incentives to support local businesses. Balanced growth can be achieved by incentivizing local small businesses through tax breaks or grants, while also implementing stricter inclusionary zoning policies requiring developers to include more affordable housing units within high-density developments.
Last but not least, a very crucial piece of this puzzle is public transportation. The more the City continues to plan for a car-dependent future, the worse traffic will become. In addition, the creation and building of parking garages and lots will only lead to increased heat indexes in our area and worsen air quality. However, we can adapt and integrate small, local public transportation options to accommodate already available parking options. We must also ensure that vehicle parking options located around town will always remain no-cost and free to use.
What is your position on book banning and efforts to limit access to some books in the public library?
I do not support book banning in any form. Librarians are well-educated and have routine reviews of books that are incorporated into how a library functions. I trust our libraries.
How can the city work to make sure that currently underserved communities do not continue to be underserved?
Simple: we serve them. We must address food insecurity, healthcare access, and infrastructure needs that are specific to our underserved communities. This means partnering with County, State, and Federal officials to better meet the needs of our underserved. In addition, there are very easy steps Council and the City can take to begin addressing these disparities including live translations of all public Council and Commission meetings to include Spanish translations at a minimum and having Council meetings begin at a later time to allow for those working regular 8-5 jobs (myself included) the ability to participate in civic engagement.
The City cannot say they are meeting the needs of the underserved if the framework from which we operate inherently excludes non-English speaking or working class residents.
It is no secret that development of the east side of IH-35 and west side of IH-35 are incredibly drastic and one that leaves residents east of 35 facing larger disparities. While I would be elected to represent District 4, I am also making choices that affect the totality of Kyle; I will not take that role lightly.
1022FE6A-6851-41C0-8AEB-49589D7DE0A7 - Claudia Zapata


Claudia Zapata

How can voters contact you?

In a few sentences, tell us about your background. Include in your answer information about your education, employment, and leadership experience.

I earned a BA in Philosophy and Government from UT Austin in 2017. I have over 10 years of career experience in policy writing, development, and analysis which includes working as a workforce and budget analyst at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, a legislative aide at the Texas legislature, an intern for the nonpartisan Annette Strauss Institute, and a Project Manager leading Anti-Displacement initiatives. I am an active volunteer with nonprofits and community organizations such as the Central Texas Food Bank, Austin Latino Coalition, and Partnerships for Children. Most recently, I was the Democratic nominee for US Congress in Texas’ 21 Congressional District against Chip Roy and brought in over 140,000 votes.

Hays County uses vote centers, meaning Hays County voters may cast ballots  at any vote center in the county during the times the vote centers are operating.

Hays County Early Voting & Election Day Locations

Hays County Voting Dates and Times

These are Hays County's May 2022 Election Day Voting locations. Registered Hays County voters can vote at any of these locations.

Early Voting: October 23 - November 3, 2023

Monday, October 23 - Friday October 27: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Saturday, October 28: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Monday, October 30 - Wednesday, November 1: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Thursday, November 2 and Wednesday, November 3: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Election Day: Tuesday, November 7 — 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.