November 22, 2022 538 PM
MARFA — City Councilmember Jason Ballmann, who joined Marfa City Council five months ago, announced over the weekend he is resigning from the role in order to relocate for a new job opportunity.
“Being on City Council was some of the most rewarding work I’ve done in my life. It was only a short five months or so, but I felt like the impacts were great. What I got to learn from community members, others on council and the mayor and city staff was just tremendous,” said Ballmann in an interview with The Big Bend Sentinel.
Ballmann expressed gratitude to the citizens of Marfa who approached him to discuss their concerns, stating he was proud to represent their interests through his work as a city council member.
“I felt really supported and I tried very hard to return that support in the work that I did. I’m very, very thankful to the Marfa community and all those that are interested in it for working with me, for taking time to talk with me,” said Ballmann.
Ballmann will be moving to Dallas soon to start his new role as media campaign and content manager for Texas Instruments. He was appointed to City Council over the summer and was five months into a one-year term. At the next council meeting in December, the council will formally accept Ballmann’s resignation and will discuss whether to fill the vacant seat by appointment.
Council may also choose to leave Ballmann’s seat vacant for the time being. The seat Ballmann was serving in, as well as council members Raul Lara and Irma Salgado’s seats, are up for election this May, as is Mayor Manny Baeza’s position.
The city council and mayoral candidate filing period begins on January 18 and runs for a month, with a deadline of February 17. Applications will be available online on the city website closer to the filing start date. The General Election will be held on May 6.
Ballmann applied and was appointed to serve on city council this past summer after the city election was canceled due to a lack of candidates applying for the vacant seat. During his time on council Ballmann advocated for funding for the Marfa Volunteer Fire Station’s expansion project and helped pass the 2022-23 fiscal budget.
“It was really important to me to step into that role, knowing that there was a vacancy, but [there] didn’t seem to be that much interest in filling it overall. I know that the priority for the vacancy, I felt, was all about ensuring there was a supermajority for budget season,” said Ballmann.
He also participated in conversations around short-term rental (STR) regulations. Ballmann said he was excited to see the city working toward formalizing fee collections and inspections for STRs, but urged people to understand not all STR rentals are backyard mom and pop operations, many are commercially bought and maintained. And he still stands behind the concept of an STR moratorium, he said.
“The short-term rental issue certainly is going to be on the minds of not just the city council, as well as city staff and the mayor, but the community and those that care about the community, which is all of us that live and work full time in Marfa,” said Ballmann.
“If it’s ever going to be fully dealt with, it will have to culminate in accepting a limit on the number of short-term rentals, and that’s what’s going to save the Marfa housing market from becoming all short-term rentals,” he added.
Ballmann said he hopes that in the future Marfa will follow suit with the City of Alpine, who is currently soliciting citizen feedback through public meetings in a strategic plan process designed to help leaders envision the city’s growth. He said topics such as how to foster the local economy while still maintaining the quiet, historic and naturally beautiful reputation of the city, could prove to be fruitful conversations.
“What would that look like and how could [those conversations] be useful?” said Ballmann. “That’s going to be something that’s going to require people to have vision, so I really encourage that kind of thinking to happen.”