‘There’s Some Exciting Things Coming’: Mayor Discusses The Future Of Pflugerville

By Blair Waltman-Alexin | Monday, November 7th 2022

Health care access. Ambulance services. Affordability. As Pflugerville grows, so do the concerns of its citizens, and how city leadership will address those issues. With no opponent in his bid for reelection, residents find themselves looking to Mayor Victor Gonzales to navigate this sea of change, something the lifelong Pflugerville resident has gotten used to.

“I've seen a lot of changes in this community, just tremendous changes that have always been for the better,” Gonzales says. “So quality meets life is kind of our motto, and we'll continue to live up to that.”


An aerial view of Pflugerville at dusk. Mayor Gonzales says he is hopeful about what the future holds for his hometown. “There’s some exciting things coming,” he says. Photo by Blair Waltman-Alexin.

“Quality of life” means different things to different residents, as the Decibel team learned this summer. We spoke with citizens at events and locations across the city, asking them what they wanted city leaders to work on. We then asked Gonzales all the questions we heard from residents. His response outlines a city working to keep pace with its growth.

“We have an opportunity,” Gonzales says. “Is that quality there to meet the expectations of the individuals that are … living in that area or having that experience in Pflugerville?”

Some residents voiced concerns about the quality of health care access. As a state, health care access in Texas is lacking – one in five Texans doesn’t have health insurance, the highest rate in the country. Pflugerville resident Carlos Gonzalez says he would like to see assistance from the local government.

“Our country compared to other countries around the world is paying more for health care and our outcomes are actually much worse,” Carlos Gonzalez says. It’s an issue the city council is aware of, according to the mayor. But Pflugerville finds itself at a point where the growth of city services hasn’t caught up to demand.

“We're still in that infancy where we're still trying to meet the challenges of our growing population,” Mayor Gonzales says. He points to partnerships with nonprofits and county-level services to meet residents’ health care access needs.

“We do try to incorporate the services that are in and around Pflugerville like Central Health,” he says.

Residents like Clay Leben are seeing growing pains in the city’s ambulance services.

“We used to have ESD District No. 2, and then the city council voted differently,” Leben says, referring to the recent switch from Travis County Emergency Service District No. 2 to a private ambulance company. At the time, city officials told the Austin-American Statesman that they were concerned about the ESD’s unwillingness to work on a transition plan and overall costs. That city council vote left residents like Leben with questions.

“What is the future of emergency services and ambulance service for our growing Pflugerville population?” Leben says.

Gonzales points to the new contract with private ambulance company Allegiance Mobile Health as the plan for the time being.

“It’s pretty pricey to start an ambulance service in a community because we don’t have any infrastructure,” Gonzales says. “We don’t have any buildings or anything. … But if we come into an opportunity or a program where we can transition into our own … we’ll certainly explore that.”

Other residents were concerned about how health care might meet law enforcement in Pflugerville. Anna Martin voiced concerns about the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the trigger laws that have since gone into effect. In Texas, abortion at any stage of pregnancy is illegal unless the mother’s life is at risk. Abortion providers can face steep fines and potentially life in prison. But Martin pointed to resolutions like the Guarding the Right to Abortion Care for Everyone, or GRACE Resolution, passed by the Austin City Council that effectively decriminalizes abortion.

“I really respect that,” Martin says. “I would like to see something similar happen in Pflugerville.”

While Gonzales touts the leeway given by local law enforcement on issues like abortion, he says as of now the city council has not considered a specific piece of legislation that would decriminalize abortion in Pflugerville.

“I think we take a broader perspective on those issues,” Gonzales says. “The council itself, we have not sat down and actually deliberated a policy or position on anything like that.” He says he expects the issue to be brought forward by citizens at some point in the coming year.

Residents also discussed a desire to maintain the diversity in Pflugerville. Kimberly Deckel says it was a major factor in why her family chose to move here.

“Pflugerville appealed to us because there is such a wide range of diversity especially in terms of race and ethnicity,” Deckel says. Census data backs that up. In 2020, Pflugerville reported an increase in Black and Asian residents, while Austin saw a decline. Some experts believe some of that diversity has been driven by gentrification and rising rents in Austin. Pflugerville residents like Deckel wonder what their city will do to stave off rising housing costs and maintain its diverse population.

“We’d love to know what their plans are to keep Pflugerville affordable and then also to keep Pflugerville diverse,” she says.

Gonzales says their solution has been to prioritize working with developers who won’t overcharge for housing.


Pflugerville resident Marc Maddox discusses his concerns about affordability with the Decibel team at a trivia event at Willards Brewery. “It's very difficult to live here still,” Maddox says. Photo by Jonathan Puente.

“For me, affordability means housing,” Gonzales says. “We can't mandate that they have a certain rent rate for certain apartments and so forth. But we do work with them to let them at least understand that that's a big concern for us as a city and because we do want people to live here and be able to afford to live here.”

Outside of housing, Gonzales also pointed to the recently convened Pflugerville Equity Commission as a statement on the city’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Founded in 2020, the group consists of seven community members. Gonzales says he expects the first round of recommendations from the commission sometime next year.

But many residents, like Juan Sanchez, are just looking for places to take the family for an afternoon.

“With everything going on, especially post-pandemic, it would be cool to have a lot more versatility and stuff to go to for younger families and older [families] as well,” Sanchez says. He’s not alone. Community members from across town hoped local leaders would look into adding more gathering spaces – more restaurants, more entertainment venues, more parks. It’s on Gonzales’ mind as well. He says kick-starting a new community center is one of the main reasons he ran for a third term.

“I won’t see it finished, but I want to see the ground broken,” he says.


Residents participate in a paint-by-numbers mural project over the summer at the ‘I Painted It My Selfie’ Day at Pflugerville City Hall. Attendees said they wanted city leaders to tackle infrastructure, diversity and affordability. Photo by Samantha Guzman.

It’s one of several community initiatives going on around the city. The Pflugerville Parks and Recreation Department is also working on a new parks master plan, spending the last several months gathering community feedback on the project. They are all projects that will take time, perhaps more than his final three-year term. But Gonzales sees them as a draw to the community where he’s spent his life, and hopes others are enticed to live here as well.

“To me, Pflugerville is a legacy,” Gonzales says. “There’s some exciting things coming.”

Community journalism doesn’t happen without community support.

Got story ideas, advice on how we can improve our reporting or just want to know more about what we do? Reach out to us at news@klru.org.

And if you value this type of reporting, then please consider making a donation to Austin PBS. Your gift makes the quality journalism done by the Decibel team possible. Thank you for your contribution.

More in Politics:

See all Politics posts