Feeling he’d “checked all the boxes” he wanted to check, Sherman Mayor Bill Magers said recently he wouldn’t have run for re-election this year if term limits hadn’t prevented his candidacy.
“I feel like it’s time,” Magers said. “If you look at my issues from ‘05 forward, they’ve been fairly consistent. It took me longer to accomplish what I wanted because I didn’t understand the speed of government, but I think I’ve done what I set out to do.”
The lifetime Sherman resident called himself a transitional mayor and praised the work of “a very good” City Council during his tenure.
“We haven’t fought,” Magers said of the Council. “We’ve disagreed, as we should. We’ve discussed, as we should, but we work very professionally together. That’s one of the things I’m very proud of. Everyone’s trying to do the right thing.”
Magers said he feels great about what the city has become during his three terms as mayor, but was quick to give credit for those changes to the City Council and the city staff.
“It’s not the mayor, that’s real important,” Magers said. “It is the council that drives these things and, obviously, the citizen’s support. I think that’s a very unique thing to Sherman — the staff, the citizens and the council are on the same page. I think our city staff does a great job of reflecting the values of our community.”
When he ran for the position in 2005 — against incumbent mayor Julie Ellis Starr — Magers said a big issue was whether the city was going to grow.
“I think now the debate has moved to how are we going to grow,” the mayor said. “That’s a subtle, but very important, difference in the debate.”
He points to three main actions taken by the Council that have made Sherman the city it is today — lowered taxes, investment in infrastructure and the sales tax initiative.
The Council has cut property taxes by 20 percent during his time as mayor and the city now has a $.32/$100 tax rate.
“In doing so, we moved to a consumption tax which relieves Sherman property tax owners of a million dollars a year in property taxes,” Magers explained.
Sherman invested $31 million in streets, water and quality of life amenities like Pecan Grove Park-East, which the mayor said was a hay field when he was elected.
“It’s important to note that we didn’t go out and buy new parks,” Magers added. “We used what we had existing and made it better.”
Thanks to the sales tax initiative, including money collected from visitors to the city, Sherman has used $1 million on road and street repairs.
“At the end of the day — Sherman Texas Inc., as I call it — our revenue streams are more in line with what our city has become,” Magers said. “We didn’t go out and create a lot of programs, We didn’t spend a lot of money. I think those things are critical pieces to your quality of life and how you grow as a city.”
The mayor also takes pride in the work the Council has done to improve Downtown Sherman and depoliticize the area as an issue.
“Our judicial law enforcement apparatus is vital to our downtown’s health,” Magers said. “We have kept in place our county governing apparatus in downtown Sherman, now and for the foreseeable future. And that is going to be a huge benefit to Sherman, Texas.”
With all he’s accomplished during his time at city hall, Magers said he doesn’t think much about his legacy.
“I think about my legacy as a father more than I think about my legacy as a mayor,” Magers said. “I’m a small business guy and being a mayor is about as close as you can get in politics. I think, if you look back on what we’ve accomplished during my tenure, Sherman, Texas is positioned for the future.”
A key component in that future is the power plant being built by Panda Power Funds.
“Sherman’s water supply separates us from a lot of cities in North Texas,” Magers explained. “Panda wouldn’t be coming to Sherman if it wasn’t for our water. Now there are other factors, but that was a key thing. The Panda project is going to add a million dollars in revenue — year one — to the city of Sherman.”
As for his own future, Magers isn’t ruling out seeking another elected position somewhere down the road, assuming he can find the right one.
“I think that one of the problems we have in politics today is a leadership issue,” Magers explained. “To be a leader, you have to assemble a group that will pull the wagon for you. Our elected officials here in Grayson County and our districts, we have great elected officials. I can’t see myself competing with (them). However, if opportunities arise I’d certainly look at those things because I enjoy politics. I enjoy the opportunities that civic leadership brings you.”
With Tuesday’s election, Magers feels good about whomever takes over as mayor.
“I feel a sense of accomplishment that we were able to do what we set out to do,” he said. “It’s time to let someone else lead. Everything I’ve talked about, both mayoral candidates were part of. Really and truly I think the city’s in great hands moving forward.”