Jason Dishongh and John F. Perez will square off June 16 to determine who will fill the vacant Leander City Council seat once occupied by Mayor Chris Fielder.
Only 15 votes separated the two Place 5 candidates in the May 12 city election. Dishongh garnered 446 votes, Perez received 431, and third-place challenger Sid Sokol earned 311 votes. Because no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote, Leander must hold a runoff election—the only runoff scheduled in Williamson County.
Both candidates tout previous leadership experience as to why they should be elected. Perez served on the Leander City Council from 2003–10 and served on the committee to help incorporate Leander in the late 1970s. Dishongh serves on the Leander Parks and Recreation advisory board and has been a Leander Chamber of Commerce board member the past five years.
If elected, Dishongh said he will work to attract large employers to help stabilize Leander's tax base.
“One of the biggest concerns of our residents right now is our water rate,” he said. “It's at a high level because of where we stand as city—there's lots of residential housing but not a lot of commercial.”
Perez also stressed the need to bring more businesses to Leander, particularly those that previously expressed interest in relocating to the city.
“There's been some businesses we've been trying to solicit to come in, and they haven't come in,” he said. “I want to know what's the issue. Is it our restrictions, or is it economic woes on their part?”
Once the city does attract new employers, the burden will then rest on Leander officials to develop infrastructure in the city's undeveloped areas, Perez said. The city has not been efficient in its past infrastructure projects, he said, but there is still opportunity to spend smartly as Leander grows in the next five to 10 years.
“We're going to be up close to Cedar Park's population,” Perez said. “We have to stay above everything and make sure it's done properly without waste.”
While Leander may eventually match and surpass its southern neighbor in population, it is important the city distinguishes itself, Dishongh said. While on the campaign trail, he said Leander residents have asked for more parkland and alternative transportation options. It is important to realize those goals as Leander continues to grow, Dishongh said.
“With our new leadership, that growth will continue to multiply … and a lot of that will be because the council is bringing in new businesses to the area to make sure we keep people in Leander,” he said. “We want to make sure our residents are continuing to experience benefits of living and working in Leander.”
Voting takes place at Pat Bryson Municipal Hall, 201 N. Brushy St., Leander. The polls open at 7 a.m. June 16 and close at 7 p.m.