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Sunrise Beach Village voters will choose among two candidates for mayor and three candidates for two seats on the City Council in the May 4 election. Early voting is April 22-30.

The mayoral race is wide open as current Mayor Chellie Steward did not file for re-election. Running for the position are current councilors Rob Hardy and John Schwin.

Three candidates are vying for two council seats: Mayor Pro-tem Dan Gower is the only incumbent in the field. Also running are Frank Donnell and Jeff Cook. The top two vote-getters win. asked each of the candidates four questions, which were compiled by the editorial staff. Their written responses are below, grouped by question, beginning with the mayoral race.

Each candidate also spoke to KBEY 103.9 FM Operations Manager Ben Shields. Mayoral candidate interviews will be aired on KBEY at noon on Tuesday, April 16. The three city councilor race interviews will air at noon on Wednesday, April 17. 



What are the biggest challenges currently facing Sunrise Beach Village?

Roby Hardy
Roby Hardy

ROB HARDY: Challenges facing Sunrise Beach are no different than those facing other communities in Texas. Infrastructure, specifically water, and roads, are some of the most mentioned concerns. In addition, making sure our quality of life is maintained and sustainable is paramount, which includes some of the crown jewels of our City—our parks. 

I will pledge to never consider the sale or transfer of our parks and believe that we can enhance these resources through public and private partnerships. After all, we moved out here for a reason! 

Finally, we must continue to build on our relationships with other local municipalities, counties, and state officials. We are all interconnected, but must never let outside influences dictate how we manage Sunrise Beach.

John Schwin
John Schwin

JOHN SCHWIN: Our public water system is a major challenge now, as it requires a significant investment to upgrade to current standards and overcome the effects of aging pipelines and equipment. More on that in the response below. Other challenges we face are open government, road issues, and development of our five waterfront parks.

As the city’s population has evolved and more part-time residents have transitioned to full-time, our traditional volunteer army has also begun to “age out.” There is now more interest than ever in our government and how we get things done. Rightly so, the residents are demanding to see deliberation and decisions from their elected officials. This challenge can be solved with the right leadership setting the example.

Simply put, our roads are deteriorating. In the words of one resident, they are “melty and crumbly.” And, while we have excellent property in our waterfront parks, we have not developed their potential to encourage and invite our residents’ use. We can begin work on these important challenges with the creation of a Master Plan, vetted through public hearings and refined to create a blueprint for future development on a dedicated timeline.


How would you prioritize those challenges and what can the council do to meet the one you placed at the top of the list?

HARDY: To me, all of these issues relate to each other. We do have issues with our Water Department, largely as the result of aging infrastructure. However, we are fortunate that these concerns have begun to be addressed through the foresight of City leadership and dedicated staff. It is paramount that we continue to inform the residents as to plans for continuous improvement, and involve citizens in the execution, and more importantly rationale, for the necessary improvements required for the maintenance of this system.

SCHWIN: By a wide margin, the city’s biggest challenge is our public water infrastructure. The system currently does not meet the minimum standards set by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for storage and pumping capacity. In addition, the city’s supply and distribution lines consist of piping of various sizes, materials, and ages. Locations of buried lines are approximate and are typically “field-discoverable” during the process of leak detection and repair. With the system’s current condition, the city is experiencing increased failures and loss of processed water.

I have been an advocate for a focus on the water system and was the primary author of the solicitation for professional engineering assistance to guide the design and implementation of water system improvements. As the plan for the water system has progressed, it has now become clear that the city council will need to discover adequate funding for this large project. As mayor, I will maintain the emphasis on this project and ensure adequate attention to budget control, while directing multiple grant applications to keep the project affordable.


Where do you see the city in 10 years and how can you, as a member of the council, contribute to that vision?

HARDY: After living in Travis and Williamson counties for most of my adult life, I have seen firsthand what happens when folks choose to ignore the future. The Texas Hill Country is a beautiful place to live and raise a family, which means that we will continue to grow. A flexible Master Plan that encompasses not just citizen input, but direction and guidance, is a critical piece of our community’s future. This plan must be reviewed continuously by leadership, staff, and most importantly, the residents. 

Plans will outlive current City leadership, and as such must incorporate the ability to take into account possible unforeseen circumstances. We will continue to grow, which means working with community leaders in Sunrise Beach and in the greater Llano and Hill Country is a never-ending endeavor. I would foresee an emphasis on nurturing other sources of tax and other revenue needed for infrastructure and other improvements to be a critical piece in the sustainability of this growth. It’s not a matter of if, but when.

SCHWIN: I see a vibrant, active retirement community, welcoming guests to our award-winning parks and getting there on decent roads! The lake is an obvious draw for our city, and we need to capitalize on that great resource with the community’s input. What does the community as a whole want to see in these parks? How do we pay for the development and maintenance of roads and parks? Should we include roadside walking paths? 

These questions and more can be answered in a Master Plan. We need to approach this with professional assistance to make sure we get it right and that it reflects the entire community’s input, not special interest groups.

As mayor, I will seek to appoint a citizen-led Master Plan Commission, backed by a beneficial budget. The commission will collaborate with a consultant to collect community input and translate it into conceptual ideas for review. I envision public hearings on competing proposals to let the citizens decide which concept best suits our community. Once we have a firm plan, we can then move forward with financing, scheduling, and completing beneficial development for Sunrise Beach. I am ready to get it done!


What do you see as the greatest strengths of the city? What are its greatest weaknesses?

HARDY: I am seeking this position to help those folks who make the community the wonderful place that it is, the residents, visitors, and city staff, a voice in the future of Sunrise Beach. These are absolutely the greatest strengths of our City, a City full of volunteers. 

The weakness we might have, like many other cities that are blessed to be in Texas, is complacency. I am here, once again, in a support role, and pledge to always listen. I have no agenda, except to reflect the community. The true measure of a man or woman is how they treat those around them, and I will always strive to make that the guiding principle in my life.

SCHWIN: The strength of Sunrise Beach lies in its people and its location along the banks of Lake LBJ. Comprised of mainly retirees, the community boasts a healthy per capita income, allowing most residents to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.

These are active and energetic retirees, enjoying many outdoor activities and events. Even more impressive is their interest and ability to volunteer for all kinds of civic and charitable events. From feeding and clothing the needy to checking on home-bound neighbors or cleaning up county roads, it is not hard to find a Sunrise Beach volunteer!

While the community is considered affluent by national standards, it is also considered rural. And this rural quality creates some challenges of its own. 

The biggest issue would be infrastructure—roads and the public water system. With a small rural population, it is difficult to afford the high fixed costs of road construction and maintenance as well as the cost of a public water system. Consequently, the infrastructure has created a drain on the city’s property tax revenue with some necessary maintenance being deferred. We will fix these infrastructure problems with the right plan and the right mayor!



What are the biggest challenges currently facing Sunrise Beach Village?

JEFF COOK: Our biggest challenges include improving our infrastructure such as our water system, our roads, and our parks, but at the same time, keeping taxes as low as possible. Our water storage and delivery systems need updating. We have five incredible parks that, with a little improvement could be the envy of the area. Being able to manage projects and operations costs within our budget is the key to meeting these challenges.


ANSWER: 1. The water system needs to be updated, reworked, and some components replaced.

2. Staying aware of the changing state laws and the effect they will have on private property uses.

3. Upgrading parks, continued maintenance, and initiated boat launch fees for non-residence use.

4. Keeping the tax rate down while allowing growth in our community.

5. Encouraging growth that will enhance the city while keeping the community feel we all love.

6. Keeping our streets and roadways maintained.

DAN GOWER: Inflation eats away at our limited tax-base funds. The State limits increases in property taxes, yet we must still support our great city employees and repair roads and our aging water system. 

Operating within the statutory limits imposed on municipalities for taxation in the face of rising costs is our greatest challenge. We must improve our water system and then consider road redesign and improvements. City parks are key and essential to the character of our city and are in need of some changes and added capabilities. 

Keeping our citizens informed so that they trust in our efforts is another challenge. Each of these priorities brings unique problem-solving challenges all the while saving the character and culture of Sunrise Beach Village. 


How would you prioritize those challenges and what can the council do to meet the one you placed at the top of the list? 

COOK: Certainly, our water system should be at the top of the list. The city has already begun a process to meet this challenge by hiring an engineering firm to conduct a study to identify specific areas that need immediate attention, plus address the need for a long-term solution. Then, a comprehensive plan can be developed to address the issues and lay out a blueprint to resolve the issues over the long run.  As with any other project, a plan is vital to identify the needs, set goals to meet those needs, and set a schedule to complete them.

As with any infrastructure project, this project will be expensive. The council will need to work together to identify funding sources such as grants, low interest and/or no-interest loans over a long period of time. My goal on council would be to exhaust all options in an effort to keep our taxes as low as possible. 


A: 1. The water system.

2. State laws and the effect they will have on private property uses.

3. Keeping tax rate down.

4. Encouraging growth that will enhance the city while keeping the community feel we all love.

5. Upgrading parks, continued maintenance, and initiated boat launch fees for non-residence use.

6. Keeping our streets and roadways maintained.


1. Water system. Currently, the city is in the process of executing a project to add another water storage tank as required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality using a cost-sharing grant from the American Recovery Act Program. Analysis of the infrastructure has shown many needed upgrades to support this project beyond the simple addition of a new tank. The council must consider additional funding beyond the initial estimated $603,000 price tag. 

2. Roads. Our roads resemble the small lakeside community established originally in the late 60’s early 70’s. In some areas, they are virtually one-lane while in others they are a comfortable two-lane road. Upgrading the road infrastructure will be costly beyond our current maintenance budget and right-of-way and property lines pose significant challenges beyond simply paving over the existing surfaces. It is unwise to begin costly and significant upgrades until our water system is completely documented, repaired, and upgraded. 


Where do you see the city in 10 years and how can you, as a member of the council, contribute to that vision?

COOK: One of the biggest reasons I’m running for council is to do everything I can to keep Sunrise Beach Village the safe, quiet, community-oriented city that it is. Those of us who are fortunate enough to live here, love this place and I want our children and grandchildren to enjoy the city as we currently do. So as a member of the council, I would always keep that in mind when considering any proposals brought before the council that would tend to change our current way of life as a city. 


A: 1. The water system completed.

2. A backup water supply system.

3. Additional police officers on the streets.

4. The ESD system complete.

5. The parks updated, and hike and bike trails in place.

6. Several more commercial businesses. As a member of the council, I would work as a team member with the other members of the council, the city staff, and the voters to achieve the goals that we all would like to see.

GOWER: It’s my desire that in the coming 10-year period the city of Sunrise Beach would mature in our governance, oversight, and planning while retaining the “lake-side-attitude” of friendly neighbors and volunteerism. I do, however, foresee that we will, by necessity, accept some debt necessary to meet those challenges mentioned above. 

I know that I do not have all the answers to how, when, and what funding sources will be used. What I do know is that progress of the nature our citizens desire will take teamwork, planning, and careful decision-making. I am more than willing to sit down with anyone at any time and listen, gather the facts, analyze those facts, and then develop well-thought-out plans for the good of the whole. 


What do you see as the greatest strengths of the city? What are its greatest weaknesses?

COOK: Sunrise Beach Village has an incredible police department, volunteer fire department, and city staff. The men and women of these departments are the reasons I mentioned this city is safe and quiet. I further believe our greatest strengths lie within our citizens. Neighbors helping neighbors. We also have the most incredible volunteer organization, the Citizens for Community Action Association “whose mission is to address concerns and promote a sense of community by providing social and community service events.” This group holds fundraising events for funding such things as a pickleball court, walking trails, park improvements, and repairs to the civic center, plus social events like holiday parties and game day. Our people are our strength.

I wouldn’t consider our city has a weakness.  What I would like to see is a bit more small business interest in the city to give the residents more amenities. We currently have a convenience store/gas station that is undergoing a vast remodel.  We also have great citizens running businesses such as a restaurant/bar, a home decor shop, a boat dock builder, several storage units, a hair salon, a massage therapist, a women’s health clinic, and a marina. I would propose a citizens group to get together some ideas for any other small business for the city for the citizens to enjoy. I would also try to work with the postal service to see if we can get our post office back in the city.


Greatest strengths: Our community works together to make all feel welcomed and included. Our city employees go above and beyond to make this city run smoothly. Our public safety system is one of the best I’ve ever seen in action. Our police department keeps this community safe and secure 24/7 and is very helpful when called upon. Our volunteer fire department is very well trained and has many years of combined experience within its members to handle the situations that arise.

Greatest weaknesses: Some of our infrastructure is out of date and in need of repair. Repairs and upkeep were not performed on a regular basis as it should have been. 

GOWER: The greatest strength of this city is now and has been for the 22 years I’ve lived here the volunteerism of its citizens. Our Volunteer Fire Department is first-class. Our Citizens for Community Action organization pulls together willing workers to solve problems by developing solutions with a spirit of collaboration. 

I hesitate to state that we have weaknesses, although we have areas we can improve upon like any other group of people. Our greatest challenge, in my opinion, is to avoid “single-interest” mindsets. By that, I mean having a passion for one single program to the exclusion of understanding or even acknowledging other competing priorities. We must keep our minds open to others.