Zach Sambrano: Candidate for San Marcos City Council, District 5

zach sambranoZach Sambrano is a fourth generation San Marcan who “deeply cares about helping create a sustainable and inhabitable San Marcos for generations to come.” He graduated from San Marcos High School and from Texas State University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 2017.

“I have always been very active in the community through various local organizations, and I now serve on the Planning Zoning commission for the city. I served the city on the Charter Review Commission earlier this year, and I also was just appointed to serve on the Redistricting Committee for the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District. I look forward to continuing to give back to a community that has given me so much.”

HCDP: What is your main reason for seeking this elected office?

ZS: My main reason for seeking elected office here in San Marcos is not simple, rather quite the opposite, but if I have to give one main reason, then it’s simple: People. There are so many people who are currently hurting after an unprecedented pandemic swept through our community and left people without jobs, resources, homes, and so much more. Many small local businesses felt the hurt just as bad, in which some beloved businesses had to close their doors permanently. On top of the pandemic, we faced a winter storm (Uri) that damaged and challenged our city, our resources, our utilities, and our people. I knew the City of San Marcos was not prepared to help the most vulnerable during this time, nor were we properly prepared, so I took it upon myself to not only start a Go-Fund-Me, which helped raise over $16,000, but I devoted my time, resources, and car to helping pick up homeless people and putting them in hotels, delivering food to anyone and everyone that needed it, and led the effort to save a nursing home full of elderly people that had no water or food. Not only have our residents struggled in these ways, but our residents have made it clear to me that San Marcos lacks affordable housing options and living wage paying jobs. So, in short, my main reason for seeking elected office is caring for and helping people. I want to be a city councilmember that fights for the people, the environment, to offer affordable housing, to attract living wage paying jobs, and help create a more sustainable and inhabitable San Marcos for all.

HCDP: Should you be elected, what are your top three priorities for this office?

ZS: If the community of San Marcos elects me, my top three priorities for this office will be: 1) Offering Affordable Housing Options, 2) Attract Living Wage Paying Jobs/Employers, 3) Protect the Environment and River From Irresponsible Growth, Pollution, and Developments.

HCDP: Based on the new census data, in your opinion, do you believe the city has addressed progressive and equitable growth? Why or why not?

ZS: Based on new census data, we have seen record growth not only in our city but in our county as well, however I do not truly believe that the city has addressed this growth in a progressive and equitable way. I believe this to be so because we have seen the city mainly focus on increasing stock in single detached family homes and not for affordable options like condos, townhomes, duplexes, triplexes, small multi-family units, and more. This focus fails our community because 51% of our community makes less than $35,000 a year, yet the median single detached family home price jumped from $269,000 to $280,000. Some of this growth has happened in the Cottonwood Creek and Trace neighborhoods, which were supposed to be affordable neighborhoods, yet we have seen house prices in these neighborhoods jump $20,000-$50,000 in just one year. I do not know a single person whose wages have rose at the same rate that these housing costs have rose. Not only are these housing cost going unaddressed by the city, but the lack of transportation and resources to and around these more “affordable” new neighborhoods is abysmal, which is why I truly believe our growth has not been addressed in a progressive and equitable way, especially when comparing other parts of town.

HCDP: Based on the new census data, has the City of San Marcos done enough to meet the needs of the diverse population? Why or why not?

ZS: This question is tied to the last question, and I believe the same to the true: I do not feel like the city of San Marcos has truly done enough to meet the needs of a diverse population. I believe that for a city to meet the needs of a diverse population, then it needs to have diversity in its neighborhoods, in its economy, and in its fight for equity for all of its residents.

HCDP: If elected, what will you do to address infrastructure inequities in San Marcos?

ZS: It is not secret that we have infrastructure inequities throughout San Marcos. If elected, I will not only work to mobilize residents to make their voices heard at city council meetings, but I will amplify their voices with my place on the council to make sure that lower-income neighborhoods like La Victoria/Victory Gardens are not having construction projects take three to four years total compared to other neighborhoods that are more affluent and have much shorter infrastructure projects. I would also evaluate projects that certain parts of town are getting and make sure that lower-income areas are receiving the same services and infrastructure improvements.

HCDP: Do you believe the City of San Marcos has responded appropriately to the COVID pandemic?

ZS: While I do applaud the city for some efforts on how they responded to the COVID pandemic, I do believe the city could have taken stronger stances on public safety and vaccine outreach and helped people and small local businesses more by allocating more federal funds to assist those that were truly impacted by the COVID pandemic. I understand this pandemic was unprecedented, however we need to make sure we prepare and adopt an emergency plan in case something like this does happen again in our lifetimes or in the next generations.

HCDP: What are your priorities for the role of council member or mayor?

ZS: My main priorities if elected as a San Marcos City Council member are to put people in our community first, offer affordable housing options so that people can not only play here but live and work here as well, seek and attract living wage paying jobs/employers, protect our environment from urban sprawl and dangerous development, and ultimately work towards helping build and create a walkable, bikeable, livable, and sustainable San Marcos that welcomes all to our beautiful community.

HCDP: How do you differentiate yourself against the other candidates?

ZS: I am the only candidate that has family roots in this community that go back four generations, that was born and raised here, and graduated from both the high school and university. More importantly, my political views differ from the other candidate in my race greatly as I am a registered Democrat and he is a registered Republican. Although this is a non-partisan race, these ideologies play a big factor in public policy as housing, jobs, criminal justice reform, the environment, homelessness, and other important issues come before the city council. We need to all work together to make sure that we have city council members that reflect the same ideals and beliefs that the party does.

HCDP: What will you do to support the quality of life for LGBTQ+ folks, immigrant communities and people experiencing homelessness in City of San Marcos?

ZS: First and foremost, I am part of the LGBTQ+ community, so the community should know that I will always fight for what’s right and for equality for all of those struggling just to have the same opportunities and luxuries as our counterparts. The immigrant community should know that my early activism days started in this area as I helped start and charter the first ever L.U.L.A.C. youth chapter at San Marcos High School. I believe immigrants make our communities stronger, and I believe we should assist them rather than turning them away. Lastly, I know many of the local homeless community through my work with HOME Center and through all of the work I did during the winter storm. This community in particular should know that I believe housing is a human right, and that San Marcos needs to have better resources and transitioning programs to help our most vulnerable in need.

HCDP: Can you commit to mentoring young progressives into the Hays County Democratic Party?

ZS: Absolutely. I find that it is very easy for me to connect and inspire young people as I am extremely young myself. I think not only a mentoring program for young progressives would be good, but an active group at each high school in the county should be formed so that way we can foster and cultivate our future leaders from an early age.

HCDP: How do you plan to stay in communication with the voters who elected you once you are in office?

ZS: I plan to stay in communication with the voters and community who elected me through social media outreach, making time to meet with people who might be impacted by an item on a agenda, and by just continuing to be in the community.

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