Meet the 7 candidates running for 3 places on Leander City Council

The seven people running for three places on the Leander City Council say the issues facing the town include having a reliable water supply and attracting commercial development.

Michael Herrera, a 60-year-old general manager of a software and consulting company, is running for the Place 2 seat against 51-year-old incumbent Esme Mattke Longoria, a project manager for a tech company.

Monica Roussel-Methena, a 36-year-old who is helping launch a home and property maintenance company, is running for Place 4 against the 46-year-old incumbent, Na'Cole Thompson, who owns her own transportation consulting company.

Incumbent Becki Ross, 53, an insurance agency owner, is running for the Place 6 seat against two challengers: 49-year-old Pulla Reddy Yeduru, the technical director for a Fortune 500 company, and Anna Yelaun, 42, a director of the Texas Region of Math Kangaroo USA, a worldwide Olympic-level math competition.

Council members serve three-year terms.

Place 2

Longoria is running for her second term on the City Council. She said one of the major issues facing Leander is its water supply.

Residents and business owners had to reduce their water use by two-thirds in February and March because a treatment plant was closed to replace a pipeline. The problem was resolved in the first week of April.

The city is also working to increase its water supply. Leander, Round Rock and Cedar Park are all part of a Brushy Creek Regional Utility Authority project to bring more water from Lake Travis. The project is under construction and includes a deep-water intake in Lake Travis, a tunnel and a pump station to be completed by 2027,

Longoria said the city also has traffic issues. "I think residents need options. Some people like the tollway and some people want less traffic on our main (nontoll) roads," she said. "Some people would like the train and pickup service to run more frequently to make it advantageous to everyone, especially those that work outside of Leander."

Esme Longoria
Esme Longoria

Her goals if reelected include attracting employers and commercial development to the city. "I will continue to serve with integrity and accountability while showing local government transparency," she said.

What makes her the best candidate, she said, is her experience on the City Council. "I come prepared and go above and beyond, such as sitting on other boards supporting the city of Leander," she said.

Challenger Herrera said the city is "financially hamstrung due to its lack of commercial growth and its relationship with CapMetro."

"The city has allowed these two items to divert over $100 million of taxes to go to Cedar Park and CapMetro in the form of sales tax revenue over the last four years," he said.

Michael Herrera
Michael Herrera

In 2022, Leander voters approved continuing the city's partnership with Capital Metro, which provides bus and rail service for the city. The city pays a 1% sales tax to belong to CapMetro.

Herrera said other issues facing Leander include a problem with water treatment and not communicating effectively to the community about the city's accomplishments and goals.

More: 9 candidates running for 3 seats on Leander City Council

He said his goals if elected include "using our sales tax dollars to benefit Leander residents and not the cities around us." Herrera said he also wants to create a partnership between the city, the chamber of commerce and developers to attract "top-tier development."

His experience in business development, marketing, human resources and technology make him the best candidate, he said.

Place 4

Thompson is running for her second term. She said the top issues facing Leander include encouraging and supporting midsize and large-scale business development and improving water treatment facilities.

Na'Cole Thompson
Na'Cole Thompson

Her goals if reelected include focusing on long-term infrastructure planning and projects, increasing support for small business programming, and supporting Leander's public safety departments. She also wants to establish "a centralized database of local public resources for residents, especially those in crisis."

"As a longtime resident, community advocate, retired banker, local business owner, wife, mom and current councilwoman, I've used my knowledge, experiences and industry expertise to work on behalf of the Leander community," she said.

More: Leander voters approve continuing partnership with CapMetro

Her opponent, Roussel-Methena, said one of the top issues facing the city is having enough water. "What happens when our lake runs low again?" she said. "Which it will. Every year. We need a creative solution for that."

The city gets all its water from Lake Travis.

Monica Roussel-Methena
Monica Roussel-Methena

Roussel-Methena said that if elected she would work on sustainable growth. "We need to allow business development at a faster pace, build the infrastructure to support it, concurrently with support services like police, fire, utilities," she said.

She said her business experience makes her the best candidate: "I believe that my training and experience in project management, change management, contract development, financial auditing and policy review make me a uniquely qualified candidate to serve the needs of Leander at this critical time."

Place 6

Ross, who is running for her second term, said the challenges for the city include moving forward with infrastructure projects like water and wastewater; road planning and construction; and traffic safety that the current City Council has made "great strides" in putting in place.

"One example would be the planned shutdown of the Brushy Creek Regional Authority water treatment plant this past month," she said. "Although the timing wasn't ideal for our spring lawn needs, the council felt strongly that it is much better to plan a well-thought-out solution to permanently repair the defective pipe than to continue to have unexpected breaks."

Becki Ross
Becki Ross

If reelected, Ross said, she plans to continue focusing on water issues, roads, champion commercial development and enhancing the city's partnership with CapMetro.

Her experience makes her the best candidate, she said. "I'm the only candidate that has experience as a volunteer with the city through serving on the Planning and Zoning commission, active with Leander Chamber of Commerce and three years on council," Ross said.

Yeduru, one of Ross's opponents, said the issues facing Leander include the water supply, roads and having enough resources to bolster public safety.

"As a community, we must champion the construction of a reliable backup water system, infrastructure, including roads. and ensuring our city is prepared for any challenge," he said. "We must also promote sustainable and responsible commercial growth, enhancing the quality of life for all Leander residents."

He said if he wins the election, he wants to build a "stronger, more prosperous Leander for everyone."

Pulla Reddy Yeduru
Pulla Reddy Yeduru

"If elected, I will focus on creating policies that attract and support a business-friendly environment to improve the quality of life for all residents, improve and speed up decision-making processes, champion building backup water systems, uphold fiscal responsibility and prioritize the rule of law," he said.

Yeduru said he is the best candidate for several reasons, including his commitment to listening to residents and businesses. "With a background in the health care pharmacy industry, as an innovator, I bring invaluable leadership qualities to the table," he said.

The other challenger, Yelaun, said she runs her own math academy and works as a math teacher. She said the most critical issues facing Leander are not having enough water, a lack of commercial development and the tax burden facing residents because 1% of the sales tax is dedicated to CapMetro.

"Leander suffers from an imbalance of residential over commercial properties, due to the hardship involved in getting a commercial development approved," she said.

Anna Yelaun
Anna Yelaun

Her goals, if elected, include exploring alternative water sources by drilling for untapped sources of groundwater.

Yelaun also said she wants to create economic and commercial growth that will expand the tax base and help pay for the city's CapMetro membership. "If elected, I will work to ease the process of approving such new developments, and thereby attract more businesses to Leander, bringing more revenue to our community, and improving the job market for our residents," she said.

"With my background in geophysics and finance, an MBA, my love for Leander, and my vision for the city’s future, I am the candidate that will bring positive change to Leander," she said.

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Meet the 7 Leander City Council candidates running for 3 places