Candidate Q&A – Dr. Lauralee Harris – District 4, Kyle City Council

Describe your community involvement in Kyle.
I am currently on the Kyle Parks and Recreation Board. I am a Master Naturalist and have been responsible for liaison and programming with Kyle PARD and organized the new Community Garden, including raising $36,000 in funding. I am an active member of KBAD and Hays Democrats. I am a member of Kyle Area Senior Zone. I was a volunteer for Wimberley Valley Radio and raised $150,000 to build out the studio on an emergency basis immediately after the Blanco flood. I was campaign chair for Elaine Cardenas' recent reelection campaign for County Clerk.
What is your favorite thing about living in Kyle?
The numerous opportunities to meet and engage with other residents, which contributes to a sense of belonging to a thriving community. The Parks trails and Vybe plan as they become more developed.
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?
I am an advocate of the AARP Livable Communities, Blue Zones and New Urbanism concepts of community design. I believe Kyle will become a vibrant community that has a wide variety of affordable housing options, provides recreation and employment resources that serve all residents, and offers unique shopping, entertainment and social venues. This has a good start with the new Community Development Plan and the Downtown Development Master Plan. The challenge is to hold developers and businesses to higher environmental and design standards than in the past. In 5 years we will have a good start on the Downtown revitalization. I hope for music and art venues, shops for local makers and entrepreneurs, locally owned restaurants, maybe a small performing arts theatre, coop commercial kitchen(?), built around our beautiful Mary Kyle Hartson Park. In 5 years I also hope we will have a senior center and community center. In 10 years I believe we will see significant progress on the Vybe Trail which will dramatically improve connectedness of our communities and enhance walkability and use of bikes. That will be especially beneficial for school children and senior residents. 20 years - my crystal ball is broken. If we do this right we will have a beautiful and welcoming community. If we neglect infrastructure or high environmental and planning standards, we will be a cookie-cutter community driven by chain stores and restaurants and warehouses. I will work hard to assure my vision for Kyle becomes reality and that people are placed first in Kyle.
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?
This is a one-hour seminar. Happy to put one together if anyone wishes. So, I'll be succinct. From New Braunfels to Austin, we all drink from the same glass - the Edwards Aquifer and Canyon Lake. Soon we will all be drinking as well from the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer. "Buying water from San Marcos" just means that we are using a part of their allocation of the same water source, as they have somewhat underutilized it. They don't have any unique water resource. In times of drought, like now and possibly continuing into the future, the Edwards Aquifer and Canyon Lake are just barely adequate to provide water to existing users. That means conservation measures like those recently adopted will need to continue. Any new business or residential development must be evaluated on water use and conservation measures. We need to move the wastewater plant's program of reuse water processing and distribution along much faster.
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 concern is that new businesses and developments be held to high environmental and design standards and that they be appropriately located to best serve the community. The road bond that was recently passed will help with the need for new roads. Parks and recreation, Public Works and the Police departments will need additional resources. I am concerned also that small local businesses are being priced out of both the rental and property purchase markets. I would advocate for subsidies and incentives for our local small businesses. It will also be important when infill development begins, such as downtown, to assure that current residents and business owners in the affected areas are consulted and their needs taken into consideration. I do not advocate for displacing legacy residents or using imminent domain for private business benefit. When I contracted on my house in Kyle 9 years ago it was obvious to me that the city was positioned for a tremendous amount of growth. I realize that many residents would like for the growth to stop. As private property owners can develop as they choose, within zoning and planning guidelines, the city has very little ability to limit growth. But we do have the ability to determine how neighborhoods are structured, where parks will be, and how our city will look. Growth can bring businesses and housing that our community needs and can take pride in.
What is your position on book banning and efforts to limit access to some books in the public library?
I oppose all efforts to limit the books that the library may provide, either onsite or through digital means. Individuals have the right to choose what they read or don't read, and parents may certainly control what their own children ingest. I could make the case that TikTok and other social media are more damaging to a child's development than any book could ever be.
How can the city work to make sure that currently underserved communities do not continue to be underserved?
Depends on what is meant by "underserved." Geographically underserved communities east of I35 have few shopping resources, and need better access to quality groceries, restaurants and retail. The recently passed road bonds will provide infrastructure for this area to develop and there are already developers sending plans to Planning & Zoning. Improvement of older roads is critical and should be a priority when considering new development, ie: Bunton. If you are talking economically disadvantaged, the city can focus on bringing more good jobs that don't require advanced skills or degrees, but do provide opportunity, and can assure that residents in need have access to resources to assist them. If we are talking about senior citizens, we need to provide more comprehensive and low cost transportation, creative living arrangements, including support for aging in place, a new senior center with kitchen for daily lunch preparation ability and access to services specifically for seniors.
Harris photo, oval - Lauralee Harris


Dr. Lauralee Harris

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 hold Master of Public Administration and Doctor of Public Health degrees. I taught Public Administration and Criminal Justice at Angelo State University.
I currently serve on Kyle Parks and Recreation Board, served 7 yrs on Haltom City Planning and Zoning Commission. I am a Texas Master Naturalist. 30+ years as Executive Director of nonprofit health & human services organizations including: started 501c3 for domestic violence shelter and three community living residences for people with developmental disabilities; Mental Health Association of Tarrant County - 10 yrs ED, impetus for creation of Mental Health Court, police training, mental health response team for law enforcement calls; American Cancer Society High Plains Division Director of Institutional Funding. Served on the boards of 5 state-wide advocacy organizations.

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.