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April 24--CEDAR PARK -- Five-term Cedar Park City Council member Lowell Moore says he's had a front-row seat as his community has grappled with issues such as water, traffic and development over the years. His opponent in the May 10 election, "Dr. Mo" Jahadi, says he'd prefer not to be distracted by the past.
In this relatively young suburb -- just 41 years old, compared with two neighbors that are past the 100-year mark --the significance of city history has been a point of contention in Cedar Park's sole council race.
"I want to focus on the next 40 years of Cedar Park's history," Jahadi, a 35-year-old chiropractor, told a small audience at a Tuesday night debate hosted by a chapter of the Central Texas 9/12 Project.
Moore, who's 74 and first took office in 1998, responded: "I know you don't live in the past, but you have to recognize the past, too. What you've done in the past is indicative of what you'll do in the future."
For instance, Moore said, he voted to approve deals with businesses that helped create 7,000 jobs over the past decade, the majority of which are primary jobs with good pay and benefits. He also said he was involved in decisions about the Cedar Park Center, from pondering whether there should be cupholders to negotiating a $12.5 million deal with the Dallas Stars.
Moore said that if he is re-elected, he will prioritize managing the city's economic development arm and adding roads to support growth, such as extending New Hope Drive to the east.
Jahadi's pet project is adding service roads along the 183-A tollway, which he said would provide a north-south alternative to increasingly congested Parmer Lane. He also would like to see the city "take a much bigger net" when recruiting businesses, and look not just in the Austin metropolitan area but also out of state.
But it's another issue -- zoning -- that has split the City Council in recent months.
Several landowners have asked for property to be rezoned to make it more commercially viable. Most members of the City Council, including Moore, have told them no, in part because they want to stick to Cedar Park's land use plan.
Jahadi said he had no issue with how the City Council voted on zoning cases but felt elected officials could communicate better with landowners and maybe rethink the land use plan.
"In some areas, they've taken this huge, vast space and just said, 'All of this needs to be commercial,'" Jahadi said. "In some areas, we need to do more detailed analysis."
Realtor Bill Pohl, a frequent figure at City Council meetings, recently penned a letter to Moore withdrawing his support in favor of Jahadi.
"I know Lowell's views, 100 percent at this point," Pohl said. "The alternative is better than 20 years of no."
Both Moore and Jahadi tout their business acumen.
Moore started his career as a Sears store manager, worked as senior vice president of United American Insurance and eventually started his own consulting firm, the Moore Group, in 1994.
He and his wife filed for bankruptcy in 2003, according to court records the American-Statesman found through a routine background check. Moore said the dot-com bust hit his investments hard, and two rounds of back surgery made him unemployable for a couple of years.
Jahadi owns ChiroFit Wellness Center in Cedar Park, which specializes in sports chiropractic, but also offers massage therapy and personal trainer services.
Moore has received $6,400 in contributions, spent $2,718,.09 and has $3,709.58 on hand, campaign finance reports show. His donors include HillCo Partners, which received a contract from Cedar Park for public affairs consulting last month; a bond counsel who has worked for the city; and Freese & Nichols, which Cedar Park hired to help with the comprehensive plan.
Jahadi has brought in $2,060, spent $5,715.10 and loaned his campaign $6,000.
Who is Corbin Van Arsdale?
Corbin Van Arsdale is the sole candidate for the City Council seat that Mitch Fuller is vacating. He represented a Houston-area district in the Texas House from 2003 to 2009, after which he joined Associated General Contractors as vice president and general counsel. He also serves on Cedar Park's community development corporation board and had a brief tenure on the parks and recreation advisory board.
Here's what Van Arsdale, 44, said he would like to achieve in office:
--Lower the property tax rate of 49.25 cents per $100 in assessed value back to its pre-recession level, 48.90 cents
--Widen U.S. 183 and explore synchronizing traffic signals
--Increase transparency by making more information available on the Web -- for instance, posting campaign finance documents on Cedar Park's website
--Aggressively recruit companies to Cedar Park by taking advantage of state programs and offering financial incentives
--Combat "friction" over land use by listening to property owners, city staff, investors and developers
Cedar Park elections
Election day is May 10. Early voting starts Monday and runs through May 6. Cedar Park has just one contested seat on the ballot: "Dr. Mo" Jahadi is challenging City Council member Lowell Moore. Two incumbents -- Mayor Matt Powell and council member Don Tracy -- are running unopposed, and newcomer Corbin Van Arsdale has no opponent for an open seat.
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