With the results of a pivotal May 4 local election, the days of Leander residents having nowhere to shop, eat, or work might finally be over.

Leander, a suburb of Austin, is currently a desert for businesses. Over the years, city council has enacted a complicated web of rules and restrictions that have blocked new businesses from coming to town, leaving the city’s streets desolate of anything but homes. While surrounding cities such as Cedar Park and Round Rock have experienced a flood of new places to work, shop, and eat, Leander has had barely a trickle.

On top of that, not only have city council’s restrictions prevented new businesses, they’ve left homeowners without any help to shoulder an increasingly heavy property tax burden.

But on Saturday, citizens elected three new city council members who have said they will remove that government blockade and make Leander open for business.

Unofficial results show candidates Kathryn Pantalion-Parker, Jason Shaw, and Chris Czernek all won with over 64 percent of the vote, an indication that their message resonated with Leander residents who are hungry for change.

“The sooner we attract more and larger commercial businesses, the more likely we can lower personal property taxes,” said Pantalion-Parker. One of her stated priorities for the city is “eliminating burdensome regulations that have caused businesses to look elsewhere.”

Shaw agreed, saying those government-imposed restrictions on business have “tied our own hands.”

“If we remove some of these ordinances that have just been too restrictive, we’re going to grow the way we want to grow,” he said.

Czernek echoed those remarks, adding it’s high time the city tears down the walls that have blocked businesses from coming to town.

“In [the past 10 years], ordinances were created and approved that have made it harder for business partners to choose Leander,” he said. “Council is now having to go back and reverse or significantly change those same regulations.”

The three newly elected council members will now make the council a majority pro-taxpayer, and if they follow through with their promises to lower taxes and demolish the city’s business blockade, Leander will indeed finally be open for a flood of new growth.

Jacob Asmussen

Jacob Asmussen is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard. He attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and in 2017 earned a double major in public relations and piano performance.