Leah Kaufman – District 5 Kyle City Council Candidate, November 2021

What can be done to ensure builders are paying their fair share so the infrastructure is done right when they build in Kyle?

I think builders should be required to make significant investments in local infrastructure, roadways impacted by their development and water/wastewater in particular. There also needs to be an assessment of priorities when it comes to ensuring adequate trees/Greenspace is maintained as we build. 

There are several large commercial, retail and residential development projects currently under construction in Kyle. Do you have any concerns about them or how well our current infrastructure can support them?

I'm very concerned with the pace of growth in Kyle. My grandfather was a city engineer, and I grew up listening to him talk about exactly this sort of situation happening in our town, a close suburb to Denver. We experienced a rapid influx of residents, mostly from out of state. Traffic is the first place you feel the pain but the burden on the water system is perhaps more insidious and potentially catastrophic. We all undoubtedly experience the heavy traffic which can make a trip to the grocery store an hours long affair (worse if you live on the East side.) Even with developers picking up some costs for infrastructure improvements, we're trying to build too much too quickly. Our wastewater treatment plan is under severe strain and the new one isn't coming online until next spring. Yet, developments continue to go up on schedule. Now, I'm not anti-development, in fact, there is one recently proposed development for the East side that I'm ecstatic about, and we need more inventory, in particular when it comes to affordable housing, but we need to strike a better balance. This is a marathon not a sprint. As the fastest growing county in the nation, people and companies are going to continue to come. Traffic congestion is a higher priority right now. High speed internet for everyone is higher priority. Ensuring we can provide adequate services to the people already living here is the highest priority. 

What are your thoughts about Kyle's affordable housing situation? If more is needed, how would you provide for it?

Absolutely, affordable housing is a priority. Costs are skyrocketing and we need more micro homes and multi family options, both rental and for sale. Increasing inventory is key so people aren't priced out of their homes like we're seeing in Austin. It's going to get worse before it gets better, and while we are managing the growth in the city, we need to do everything we can to focus on workforce development so folks can get paid a living wage. 

Law enforcement is one of the largest expenses in the city’s budget. What are your thoughts about the size of Kyle's police force and if they are being deployed adequately and appropriately?

I think a good use of dollars for pd would be to invest in a mental health response team (why not train existing staff?). Many cities, such as Portland and Denver have done this successfully. We are still a very small city in comparison, but as we watch the crime rate increase in places like Austin, addressing one of the root causes of many 911 calls is key. Alongside substance use disorders, untreated mental health conditions are often the issue. This would also be a more constructive way to address /mitigate panhandling and camping. That and focusing on police partnerships with local nonprofits who provide services and adopting a community policing model and growing partnerships with neighborhood watch groups as we've reportedly begun trying to do. 

The Kyle police department rarely uses cite and release for non-violent, low-level offenses. Do you support the adoption of a cite and release ordinance to reduce needless jailing?

I absolutely support cite and release for low level non violent offenses, alongside ensuring encounters that involve substance use disorders or mental health crises end up appropriately triaged to hospitals and mh/sud facilities. Our local jails are over capacity and we needlessly imprison too many people who might have better outcomes if triaged to appropriate community resources. 

Should Kyle give economic incentives to attract businesses, or is the city’s location on the I-35 corridor and its position as one of the fastest-growing cities incentive enough? Explain.

As we are part of the fastest growing county in the country I don't think economic incentives are required to attract large corporations. They're coming here anyway. I do think we should do more to support small local businesses, and economic incentives for these should be on the table. This is a great way to support residents and encourage local entrepreneurs. 

What should the city council do to support local businesses?

I do think we should do more to support small local businesses, and economic incentives for these should be on the table. This is a great way to support residents and encourage local entrepreneurs. It would be great if there were a resource that provided hands on assistance to new entrepreneurs. Finally, commercial real estate in Kyle is rather expensive. I'd like to see local entrepreneurs get the sort of favorable lease options and tax breaks we've likely provided to commercial businesses. 

How well is Kyle planning for the future? What improvements would you suggest?

The 2040 plan is pretty comprehensive but I also think we're going to be required to adapt more than we envisioned. This has got to be a living document. Regular needs assessments should be conducted related to key areas. Infrastructure improvement should be happening faster than new housing developments. We need a better transportation solution. A regional partnership with capital metro seems like a more feasible plan than the current uber partnership, which, while a nice short term solution, is unsustainable and environmentally unfriendly.

What are you willing to do to maintain an open dialog with your constituents?

I'm a huge fan of community meetings that have a two way dialogue, and seeking public comment with the goal of summarizing results and identifying community preferences before decisions are made. Again, servant leadership should be the goal, and you can't succeed at that unless you are actively listening and seeking out the feedback of groups who may be underrepresented.

Leah Kaufman


Leah Kaufman

How can voters contact you?

Describe your educational background

I studied Political Science at the University of Colorado in Denver, with a focus on Healthcare Policy. Over the years I've taken numerous continuing education courses and workshops including LEAN process improvement, six sigma, project management, and numerous healthcare quality and policy courses related to my career field. 

Describe your relevant employment background

I've worked in the nonprofit sector, Healthcare quality/policy specifically, for over a decade. As Director of State Engagement, my work focuses on coalition building and stakeholder engagement, with a fair amount of public speaking. I typically engage with state government agencies, health plans, clinicians, legislators and advocacy groups, managing state advisory committees and directing project implementation across an average of 3 states at a time. I'm great at soliciting feedback from diverse audiences and consensus building before big decisions are made, something I see as an area of opportunity for the Kyle City Council. 

Describe your leadership experience background

  • I'm used to leading advisory committees at both the state and National level, which are typically composed of c-suite individuals and state leaders, as well as mentoring junior staff within my own organization. I believe strongly in servant leadership, and would bring that philosophy with me if elected to council. 

Describe your community involvement in Kyle

  • During the pandemic, after recognizing many kids were lonely at home, I started a family nature club (in the style of Richard Louv's book Nature Deficit Disorder) We met safely masked and outdoors around Hays for hiking and other activities. It was as much of a godsend for the parents as it was for our kids. Then, more recently, I started a homeschool co-op, offering PE and academic courses in a secular setting. I look forward to getting more involved with the senior center in the future. They're a great group. My mother is relocating to Kyle soon and is thrilled to have an established group for active seniors. More generally, my family and I always focus on frequenting small businesses. That's one of our favorite ways of supporting the community. From fencing classes with Gary at Kyle's Methodist church, followed by our favorite BBQ to Code Ninjas and La Ola Pop Shop, to getting our bouquets at Kyle Flower Shop, whenever we can choose local over big box, we do. 

Kaufman is running in a contested race for the District 5 seat on the council. This is an at-large member council seat, meaning that the seat represents the entire city and any registered voter in the city can vote in this race.

The Kyle City Council is composed of a Mayor elected at-large by the people for a three-year term and six Council Members, three elected at-large and one from each of the three districts, for staggered three-year terms.


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