BOERNE, Texas – The new mayor-elect of Boerne is a political newcomer in every sense of the word.
Despite not running a campaign, Frank Ritchie overwhelmingly defeated a long-time city council representative.
“I agreed not to take any campaign funding, any finances. I did not take one dime, not one penny from any group or any organization,” said Ritchie. “I just put my hat in the ring and said, ‘I love Boerne, and I want to make a difference in this community.’”
Ritchie garnered 76% of the vote over Nina Woolard’s 24% during Saturday’s mayoral election. Departing Mayor Tim Handren did not run for re-election after four years in office.
Ritchie is a local businessman, associate pastor and youth soccer coach. He’s owned Ritchie Automotive Repair & Alignment Inc. on the I-10 access road in Boerne for 15 years. He gained support primarily through grassroots efforts on social media and people concerned about the rapid growth in the town.
“I wanted the community to rally around and support me, and that’s exactly what they did. They rallied around us, around me. They made their own signs, and they did their own campaigning. It was successful,” said Ritchie. “I’m not a politician. I’m a mechanic that has a business here in Boerne.”
The Hill Country town has seen a population boom over the past decade. The town’s population increased from 10,471 in 2010 to 19,109 as of July 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That growth has led to traffic and congestion woes.
“At one point, it was a small little town. It doesn’t have the infrastructure to handle another (15,000 to) 20,000 people,” said Ritchie. “One of our main priorities is working on the infrastructure, making it easier to get around, whether it’s through walking trails or biking paths or whatever the planning and zoning and the heads of the community can come together with. We need to sit back and look at what are the best routes, all the best avenues, redirecting traffic around some of the neighborhoods and not through people’s properties.”
Ritchie has also prioritized water conservation, preservation and responsible land development.
“The population growth puts more stress on our first responders, our police force, and so there’s a lot of concern of how can we have great response times when our community gets so large,” said Ritchie. “Being transparent, asking what’s coming whether it’s an apartment complex or business. How does it benefit Boerne? Is it going to put money into our school district? Is it going to better the community, or is it just somewhere where developers come in to make some money and then move on to the next development?”
Ritchie said he understands he can’t bring development to a grinding halt but wants to preserve some of the small-town charm that made Boerne what it is today. He will be sworn in at the May 23 city council meeting and said he will continue to run his auto shop.
“We can change with the times, but we need to do it sensibly and responsibly,” said Ritchie. “I’m going to be transparent. If I don’t know, then I’m going to tell you, I don’t know. But I will work my butt off to make sure that I get you the answers that you’re looking for and that we work together.”
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