CEDAR PARK, TX — The 2020 election is heating up across Texas, and there are plenty of races with candidates eager to serve in elected office. Eyes are primarily focused on the presidential election, but voters will also decide the outcome of key local races.
Patch asked candidates to answer questions about their campaigns and will be publishing candidate profiles as election day draws near.
Heather Jefts Seeks Place 6 Cedar Park City Council
Party affiliation: NA. Family: Husband Richard, sons David and Will.
Party affiliation: NA.
Family: Husband Richard, sons David and Will.
Occupation: Swim coach/instructor (7+ years).
Previous elected experience: Cedar Park City Council Place 5 (2017-2019); Capital Area Council of Governments Executive Board.
Family members in government: None.
Campaign website: https://jeftsforcedarpark.com
What is the single most pressing issue facing our state, and what do you intend to do about it?
Traffic and transportation are big problems. We have heard from multiple major employers that lack of transit options are a factor in relocating to Cedar Park. When I was on city council, I spearheaded our Transportation Master Plan update and an independent Transit Study to examine our existing infrastructure, explore options to meet our needs, and get community feedback. In terms of policy, we need thoughtful planning, signal updates, demand management, and an open discussion on alternate transit options. It’s also critical to work with the business community on telecommuting, carpooling, and similar as well as ensure safe paths to schools for our kids. We have been working with TxDOT on the 183A Frontage road for a while, and I will push for this project to be completed expediently.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
My opponent regularly seeks out controversy and division, and that is bad for business development and finding consensus on core services and issues. I’m data-driven and solutions oriented. I work to bring people to the table rather than drive wedges in the community. I came prepared and educated on agendas while on council, and I brought feedback and informed opinions based on community input. I’ve held over 80 office hour events and will continue to be accessible to all. I utilize social media to inform the community on Council agendas, city business, and local events. I championed more public outreach, from drainage meetings to Lakeline Park planning. I have a passion for serving our community, and I have put my time, my energy, and my heart into volunteering here in Cedar Park for over 15 years. When I was first elected, I took the time to reach out to even more community members, working to build bridges, open a positive dialogue, and learn all I could on issues from their perspectives. I’m running to be a servant leader and represent the interest of every member of our community.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
I served on the council with distinction and without controversy from 2017 to 2019. I was also nominated and elected to the Capital Area Council of Governments Executive Committee (CAPCOG) by my fellow council members and CAPCOG EC. CAPCOG is a consortium of elected officials from our ten-county region, dealing with a range of issues from emergency management systems to public safety official training to environmental and resilience planning. I was voted Best Local Elected Official in 2018. In 2013, I started my own small business, teaching and coaching swimming for children and adults. I’ve also been an active volunteer in our community, including as a Band Booster parent, PTA member and regular volunteer, and more recently, serving on the Board of the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center. I’m also a co-coordinator for the Reveal Diaper Ministry and volunteer at Hill Country Community Ministries. I’ve participated in numerous seminars, training sessions, and conferences for economic development, planning and zoning, and elected official rules and regulations. I’ve also put in the time and effort into community outreach, working to be available to anyone and everyone to educate myself on the needs, desires, and concerns of our community.
What steps should state government take to bolster economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic for local businesses?
Our mayor and majority of council were in lock-step on the pandemic response, which significantly mitigated the effects on our citizens and economy through this past spring and summer. Unfortunately, my opponent has continued to show disdain for CDC recommendations, state orders, and the local health authority. In a public health crisis like this, and any emergency situation, our elected representatives need to demonstrate publicly a calming influence and united front. The pandemic is not abated yet, and council members promoting conspiracy theories and flouting science and data leads to confusion and chaos within the community, potentially putting many neighbors at great risk of serious illness or death. We can best support our economy and economic recovery by keeping people healthy, helping them feel safe, and implementing safety measures that are fair across the board so our businesses can plan and pivot accordingly. Our economy isn't struggling due to regulations; it's struggling because people know this virus is dangerous and don't want to risk their own or their family's lives.
How will you address the calls for racial justice and police reform?
Public safety is our number one priority as a city. At the same time, we tend to put a lot of pressure on police to fill many roles in the community. I support collaborative, community-wide conversations around how we can best address issues such as mental health, addiction, housing, low-level non-violent crimes, and traffic violations in a way that allows law enforcement to focus on addressing more serious, violent crime. Our city is one of the safest in the state. We can be proud of that and honor that while at the same time recognizing and addressing areas we have inequities. When I previously served on council I voted for increased pay, benefits, and protective equipment as well as to conduct the 2018 departmental review because I believe in providing the resources and support needed while also ensuring accountability. High quality of life needs to be our standard for everyone, and we can't ensure that without acknowledging systemic inequities and being brave enough and humble enough to have those difficult but meaningful conversations. I'm looking forward to helping our city come together through these courageous conversations.
List other issues that define your campaign platform.
In my opinion, bringing civility and common sense back to our council is the most important issue. We need a council that’s both representative of the spectrum of views in our city and respectful of varying perspectives while also solely focused on improving everyone’s quality of life and not getting bogged down in pettiness or political stunts. It is unacceptable to have an elected official call constituents soulless, evil, witches, terrorists, Satanists, and other meritless, baseless insults. We have a beautifully diverse community, and we need representatives who not just tolerate but celebrate those differences and have a heart to serve everyone. I have proven that I can and will work with anyone, show up prepared to engage on the issues, and stick to the topics that matter to our community: traffic, taxes, affordability, public safety, and jobs. I'm here to bring us together and get us back on track.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I'm running because I love this community. I want to bring back compassion, inclusivity, and transparency as well as a renewed focus on just the issues facing Cedar Park families, namely, reducing traffic, improving affordability, and maintaining public safety. I love serving our community, and I want to help people understand and engage with our city government on issues that matter to them. City council has the most direct impact on people’s daily lives, and I want to help our community maintain its quality of life and be a welcoming place to live. It’s tough to feel heard by elected officials, and I pledge to be an accessible, responsive representative, finding effective ways to connect with the community and address concerns. I'm here to serve everyone.