2017-04-21 / Front Page

Delana Keele Toups runs for City Council seat

BY DAVID LOWE
DISPATCH RECORD


Delana Keele Toups Delana Keele Toups Delana Keele Toups said her desire to support economic development, improve infrastructure and help provide youth activities are among the reasons she is running for a seat on the Lampasas City Council.

A Lampasas native, Ms. Toups graduated from Lampasas High School and Sam Houston State University. She has a 9-year-old son, Carter, and an 8-year-old son, Carson.

The candidate has been a teacher for 16 years -- eight of them with the Lampasas Independent School District. She teaches third-grade math and science at Hanna Springs Elementary School, where she is in her second year as grade-level chairwoman.

That position, she said, requires communication with her team and the school administration, along with various other responsibilities. She said as a grade-level team leader, she serves as a communication link -- similar to how the City Council serves as the link between the people and the city staff.

Along with teaching, Ms. Toups is involved in several local groups and volunteer efforts.

She is president of the Child Protective Services Volunteer Board for Lampasas County and helped orchestrate last week's Kendra Scott Trunk Show, which raised more than $2,500 for the board. Several years ago, Ms. Toups planned and hosted a walk-a-thon that provided financial support for a child with cancer.

In addition, Ms. Toups is a former Christmas on the Creek board member, and she participated in the initial planning for the light display in W.M. Brook Park.

She also is a member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and Beta Mu Sorority -- which hosts the Diaper Derby during Spring Ho, prepares baked goods for law enforcement and public safety agencies, and organizes Cinderella's Closet to provide prom dresses for high school girls in financial need.

She also is a Women's Golf Association member.

Commenting on her experience and how it relates to the City Council, Ms. Toups said she has excellent leadership skills and fulfills her obligations.

She said she showed leadership when she met with Chief of Police Sammy Bailey to organize the upcoming women's and children's self-defense programs.

"That's very, very important to me, so I was excited about that," she said.

Ms. Toups said one of the reasons she is running for office is because she wants to continue the "open environment" the council has cultivated in recent years by welcoming new ideas and growth in Lampasas.

The candidate said it is important to her to create more, higher-paying jobs in Lampasas. She also said she wants to be willing to provide incentives for existing businesses in the city as well as new companies that want to move here.

In addition, Ms. Toups said she does not want Lampasans to be burdened by taxes.

"I want to be part of a council that can help generate income without raising taxes," she said.

Although she was not on the council when it called an election about a homestead tax freeze for people 65 and older, Ms. Toups said she was "a very big proponent" of the freeze, which passed in a landslide in May 2014. In contrast, she said her opponent, incumbent Chris Harrison, publicly stated his opposition.

The minutes from the City Council's June 24, 2013 meeting show that Harrison "said that he personally likes the gesture of a tax freeze but it is not a great draw for Lampasas." At that meeting, according to the minutes, Harrison also said he would not vote for a tax freeze at the polling place. He did join the rest of the council, though, in voting to call an election for voters to decide the issue.

Noting construction of the Estates at Lampasas senior living complex -- which has more than 75 units -- Ms. Toups said residential construction in the city has increased because of the tax freeze.

She said key issues for her include economic growth, as well as improvements at the business park on U.S. Highway 183 South. Ms. Toups said she wants to continue to provide infrastructure to develop the business park -- which she said Harrison spoke against publicly. Ms. Toups said through the Lampasas Economic Development Corp.'s hard work, "we are on the verge of seeing large corporations come in [to the business park]."

Among additional priorities, Ms. Toups listed supporting the police and fire departments by providing necessary funding, and replacing infrastructure. She noted the council has numerous infrastructure projects it intends to fund with money the city is borrowing through certificates of obligation.

Ms. Toups said another priority for her is to get the city, county and Lampasas ISD to collaborate to provide more activities for youth.

For example, Ms. Toups said she would like to develop a good business proposal and involve multiple entities in her goal of creating a hands-on science, technology, engineering and math venue similar to the Hill Country Science Mill in Johnson City. She said she would like to work with Economic Development Director Mandy Walsh on seeking grants for such a venture.

Ms. Toups said she also has a vision for creating some type of club that would promote interaction among different generations -- possibly with students and senior citizens meeting to read to each other or play board games.

She drew a contrast between herself and her opponent on the subject of promoting youth activities.

"My opponent publicly has stated that it is not the government's job to provide programs for the youth of our community," she said.

In an interview when he ran for City Council in 2015, Harrison told the Dispatch Record: “I understand having kids and the importance for them, but I also don’t believe that the government in any form or fashion should be the ones providing for my kids. That’s my job as a parent.”

In the same interview, he added that it is a positive step if the city can participate in projects somehow without taking on the full burden of funding or executing items proposed by various groups.

Asked what sets her apart in the two-person race, Ms. Toups said her passion for the youth of the community, honesty, integrity and commitment to fulfilling her duties distinguish her.

"I personally have no agendas," she added. "I want to be a voice and a sounding board for the people."

She said her vision for Lampasas five to 10 years in the future is to "see all of our current assets and city facilities in excellent working conditions, better roads, vibrant economy and a multitude of better-paying jobs."

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