Local elections have the largest impact on you as a citizen and on the local businesses that make Leander great. Leander is a council-manager government with an elected mayor and six council members who are elected at large by place. Your vote is critical to the success of Leander. Below you will see all of the candidates, and have a chance to learn a bit about them.
This year there are four city-level races:
- City Council Place 2
- City Council Place 4
- City Council Place 6
The Leander Chamber of Commerce had the privilege of hosting a candidate forum at our Monthly Membership Lunch and Learn and hearing from the candidates for each race.
Click here to see the entire March Monthly Membership Lunch and Learn to see the entire candidate forum and for more news from the Leander Chamber of Commerce.
Learn more about the candidates in their own words and their response to the question posed to them by Bridget Brandt, president of the Leander Chamber of Commerce,
“What would you do to improve business in Leander for existing businesses?”
Troy Hill began working for the community through the Leander Charter Review Commission and the Leander Economic Development Committee. He served as Leander City Council Member, Place 6, for three years, and has served as Mayor since 2018. Troy currently serves on the CapMetro Board of Directors and is active with the Texas Economic Development Council. Covid has changed the workspace. Up to 40% of workers will remain virtual for at least 2 years. The demand for flex office space will explode as companies seek satellite offices instead of expensive downtown space. Having restaurants and shopping for these “at home” residents is essential. Larger employers are going to locate where younger workers live, so these companies will be looking for places in Leander.
“I would say we need to meet more often. I need to hear about your needs. I need to hear about the challenges you are facing. Obviously the last year and a half has been challenging for pretty much everybody. I would say more than anything else it is regular dialog, and on our end, we need to be responsive.“
Christine has been serving on the Leander City Council since her election win in May of 2018. She prides herself on being resident-focused, business-friendly, and diligent in researching issues and policies. She enjoys serving on other boards and committees including the Capital Area Council of Governments Executive Committee & Capital Area Economic Development District, the Texas Municipal League’s Legislative Priorities Committee, and the National Civic League’s
Model City Charter Working Group. In 2020, she placed second in Hill Country News’ Best of the Best Awards for Best Elected Official. In January of 2021, through continuing education and dedicated committee work, she attained the designation of Certified Municipal Official. At home, she is mom to two awesome kids and a schnoodle named Sgt. Pepper. She’s an avid reader and chocolate-lover. Christine has been an active member of the Leander community since moving here in 2010. She is a digital marketer and former professional organizer.
“One of the focuses for economic development needs to be you. Who are your suppliers? Who are the ancillary businesses that help you? What can we do to help you be more successful by shoring up your supply chains? I think that would be really be helpful.“
City Council Place 2:
Annette Sponseller began volunteering with the City of Leander in August of 2017, as the Vice-Chair of the Charter Review Commission and found the work fascinating and engaging. In 2018, she was appointed to serve on the Ethics committee until 2019. Eager and excited to serve the city she loved and her community more, she was appointed to the Planning and Zoning Commission that same year. Where she served on the Planning and Zoning Commission and, in addition, the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee until her appointment to City Council. To which, she is currently seated in Place 2 since late last year by a unanimous Council vote.
She has worked at Girl Scouts of Central Texas for over 5 years and has volunteered with the organization since 2010. She has also volunteered her time with the local Scouts BSA and Leander ISD and is currently the President of the Leander FFA Booster club where she supports the efforts of her daughter. Community, service and local government have been a passion for her and she would welcome your help in making it her honor to be duly elected into Place 2 on the Leander City Council come May.
“I want to support and help create a Buy local campaign. We need people to spend their money locally, so we need to tell them about all of the wonderful businesses that are here.“
Mike Sanders and his wife Loyda have been married for 27 years and have lived in Leander for the past ten years. Mike’s experience in leadership and governance includes being a Sergeant in the USMC, serving on numerous church committees through the years, serving as a Pastor, serving for Reveal Ministries distributing food and clothing to low-income residents, serving on an HOA Board of Directors and other governing bodies.
Small business owners have suffered during this past year due to a variety of reasons. From my perspective, those reasons should not include executive orders to close your doors, nor limiting the number of people allowed to enter your business. I support individual freedom and trust owners to make the right decisions for their businesses. I will not support executive orders from the Mayor to shut your doors or limit how you conduct your business. I will work hard to ensure we have reliable sources of clean water in Leander and to stop wasteful spending. See more details at Mike4leander.com.
“There are two things that I have heard from business owners. One is the need to be able to put up signs to bring people into your business, and I will support the ability to put up signs to bring people into your business. Number two, you don’t want to shut your doors due to government orders. You are smart enough to decide when to shut your doors.“
Esmeralda, a Mexican-American and multi-generational Texan, was born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is one of four girls and has a large extended family. She has spent more than 25 years in the Austin area, with the last six years here in Leander. Esmeralda has a special needs older sister. After graduating with honors from W.B. Ray High School in Corpus Christi, Esmeralda worked hard to put herself through college and graduated from Texas State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Major in Computer Information Systems. Esmeralda started her career off as a computer programmer for USAA and then the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs as well as for Texas Licensing and Regulation.
Esmeralda currently works full-time at Dell and has over 13 years with the company. Esmeralda has spent much of her free time during the pandemic as a volunteer for Meals on Wheels, sewing masks, 3D printing face shields for her community, and assisting her children in adjusting to the challenges of virtual education in the Leander ISD school system.
“To support local business, I know it’s been a rough year, so I would see what challenges you had during the pandemic, and how, as we are getting to the finish line for the pandemic, do we support the businesses. And I was happy to hear [The Leander Chamber] provides COVID tests. That is great.“
City Council Place 4:
Since arriving in Leander almost five years ago, I have continued to serve the children, families, and community in various ways. I have served as a member of the PTA at Camacho Elementary and Leander Middle School since the fall of 2016. From 2018-2020, I served as the “Top Dog” for the Watch D.O.G.S. program at Camacho. I have coached for nine seasons in Leander Little League (LLL) and am a member of the LLL Advisory Board that is helping to shape the league to be the best in the area for our children and community. When the league needed more umpires, I stepped in to help and have umpired for two seasons. I have been serving as a commissioner on the Planning and Zoning Commission since November of 2019, currently serving as the Vice-Chair of the Commission.
I spent most of my adult life in the Army, in one form or another. I was an enlisted Infantryman, then I attended the United States Military Academy (West Point) and was an officer in the Adjutant General’s Corps (Army speak for Human Resources). Today, I work for Visa as a Director in IT. I lead a team of project managers and business analysts that evaluate and bring in new technology for all Visa employees as well as enhance existing technology.
If given the opportunity to serve as a city council member, I plan to focus on three areas; economic development, infrastructure, and limiting our high-density growth.
“Alright, two things, access and information. So Mike hit on it with the signage, but making sure people have access to your businesses, know where they are and can get to them, with roads, infrastructure, etc. And then information. As the Mayor mentioned earlier, constant dialogue. I told you before, I’m a fighter. I’ll fight for you, but I have to know what you need in order to do that.“
Nacole Thompson is a small business owner and resident of Leander, Texas. Mrs. Thompson has been actively involved in the Leander community for many years and is excited for an opportunity to further serve this community as a member of the city council. Nacole Thompson is a graduate of LISD Leadership Leander as well as the Leadership Austin Emerge Program. Nacole Thompson is also a graduate of Baylor University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and later went on to earn a Masters of Business Administration. Mrs. Thompson has put that education to good use in a professional career spanning more than 15 years in finance, small business development and banking. Her corporate leadership and management roles include leading multiple tier levels of employees and managing over $50 million in assets and investments. Nacole Thompson’s community service also includes executive board work with local PTO, PTA, Booster Club and Project Grad boards at CC Mason Elementary, Wiley Middle, Rouse High and Glenn High Schools as well as work with The Wilco Business Summit, Texas Leadership Forum and Texas Women In Business. Leander is one of the fastest-growing cities in the state and in the country. We have to encourage economic growth and development and attract medium to large-sized firms to our city
“I would love to see our city really support local businesses through a partnership with the schools that we have. We have so many teenagers that are getting ready to go into careers and you guys are the ones who can teach them what to do and how to do. So it would be really important to have that kind of collaboration.“
City Council Place 6:
I’ve lived in Leander for 20 years and have been actively involved in the community raising my two kids who attended Leander School District. I’ve worked for over a decade to bring quality development to Leander.
Bringing public and private parties together understanding the complexities of compromise and negotiation. In the past three years, I helped reverse many over-reaching regulations on commercial development while at the same time improving quality - resulting in many new retail and restaurants. I represent Leander in a joint project with Williamson County, TxDot, and CAMPO for the Hero Way extension project which will be Leander’s only east/west corridor to I35.
We have discovered many infrastructure instability points caused by years of uncontrolled growth and lack of planning. We initiated an independent analysis of our water, wastewater, and roads and there is much work to be done. Using independent data, we can increase reliability and hold city staff accountable for spending.
Worked with Mayor Hill and staff in pursuit of companies bringing high-paying careers. Identified a toolbox of incentives we can use to attract those businesses. Our membership in CapMetro requires giving them 50% of our sales tax, we are at a severe disadvantage when competing with neighboring cities who can use their sales tax to offer cash and land to these prospects. In 2020 we were still able to bring over 4 such companies resulting in over 230 full-time jobs.
“Anyone who knows me probably know what I am going to say. We have to eliminate some of these burdensome ordinances and fix the permitting department. It shouldn’t take 45 days to put up a wall. So, that’s what I’d do.”
Becki Ross is a wife, mom, small business owner and community volunteer in the area for over 18 years.
She is immediate Past Chair of the Leander Chamber of Commerce, Chair of the Old Town Street Festival and Leander Bus Tour, and was elected to a second term on the board. In 2018, Becki was appointed by the City Council as a commissioner on Planning and Zoning where she was elected as Chair this past year. She was a voting rep and board member for her homeowner’s association from 2017-2020 and spent many years as an LISD booster club volunteer, board member and club sport team parent.
She worked in the corporate world for over ten years before opening her small business in 2009. Becki has been married to her high school sweetheart for over 27 years and is enjoying watching her daughters as they spread their wings in college. Becki’s education includes a B.S. in Management from LSU and an M.B.A. from the University of New Orleans along with several industry designations. I intend to be proactive in addressing critical infrastructure, to bring companies that will allow our residents to work where they live, and to respect every person who takes the time to reach out to me.
“We need to make it easy for our businesses to do business with the city. They need to understand what needs to be done and how it needs to be done. So, it’s streamlining things and finding information easily.”
Where can I vote? Early voting will be held in the Leander Public Library annex located at 1011 S. Bagdad Rd, April 19-25 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m, and April 26-27 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
2021 election day is from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 1.
Important News and Upcoming Dates:
- COVID rapid tests are still available for free to Leander Chamber Business Members – contact the Leander Chamber of Commerce for more information at (512) 259-1907
- 18th Annual Leander Chamber of Commerce Golf Classic – April 16
- Living Leander Career and Community Expo & $500 scholarship – April 30, 4 p.m.-8 p.m.
- Old Town Street Festival featuring Wade Hayes – June 5, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.