NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Historically, Nacogdoches city council races have little division between candidates. But in this year’s race for Nacogdoches city council northeast ward a disagreement over a zoning issue draws the line.
Before the Nacogdoches Republican women, Nacogdoches City Council member Garth Hinze got right to the point of contention between him and opponent Kathleen Belanger.
“My opponent is a single-issue candidate, but this is not a single-issue campaign. The campaign is not about a single piece of property on the north end of her street. It’s about 36,000 people and what is best for all of them,” said Hinze.
Kathleen Belanger acknowledges a zoning change for multi-family apartments on the north end of Logansport Street led to her candidacy decision. She says it was handled unfairly, in the midst of a pandemic, heard before a partial council and with inadequate notification.
“People who really had a stake in this had no idea this was happening. It was really in the kind of dark of night that this slid by,” said Belanger.
Hinze says city procedure was followed. He claims his integrity is now under attack.
“Neither my opponent or anyone else bothered to participate and were not interested until after a decision was made. Some demanded a change after the fact.”
Belanger says residents had no choice.
“If we can’t get a voice even at Logansport, how are we going to have a voice on how we are going to have our community, " questioned Belanger.
Hinze says this campaign has him putting out fires.
“Unfortunately, the city council and myself have been represented as representatives that don’t listen, will not hear out their people. That’s just not the case.”
It can be argued a zoning issue may not impact an entire city. It’s fairly clear it has taken hold on an election.
The issue did lead to notification changes. Residents living within 500 feet, instead of 200 feet, of a zoning change request are mailed letters. And a notification sign is placed on the property. Early voting starts a week from today.