3 city candidates outline priorities for District 5 (video)
April 13, 2013 at 10:03 p.m.
Updated April 13, 2013 at 11:14 p.m.
Incumbent Joe Truman wants another term on Victoria City Council, but two other candidates want a shot at the job.
The three candidates, Truman, former councilman Gabriel Soliz and podiatrist Andrew Young agree economic development is vital to the city, but from there, priorities and expectations begin to differ.
District 5 covers the southern half of Victoria. The election is May 11.
Soliz, 40, said he is running to break stereotypes and be a positive example for Hispanics.
"I honestly don't believe that whites hate Mexicans in Victoria," Soliz said. "When I ran, there were plenty of white people with Anglo descent who voted for me."
Soliz said he established a record of conservative votes during his previous term as councilman of District 2. His mother, Josephine Soliz, now holds that seat.
The incumbent, Truman, 50, said this is the third oil boom he has seen during his time in Victoria, and he wants to come up with long-term plans to keep the economic growth going.
"I don't want to anticipate a bust, but eventually it does happen," Truman said. "We need to come up with sustainable industries that will keep our hotel rooms filled and keep Victoria growing."
Andrew Young, 39, said he wants to lead Victoria in the direction of the 2025 plan and increase transparency on the council.
His priorities are three-part and hinge on each other: promote economic growth, lower the tax burden on residents and catch up on growth and infrastructure projects.
"It's the same concept we look at in medicine," Young said. "When we make decisions, we focus on quality of life."
Soliz said he sees two policies at City Council: expansion or revitalization. He favors revitalization.
As for the economic development corporation and the sales tax development board, Soliz said it needs more transparency: "the fox guarding the hen house," he said.
Soliz said a majority of sales tax development representatives are also members of the economic development council.
"You have a majority of the taxing entity members in this organization, and nobody calls a degree of nepotism involved," he said.
Soliz said he wants to develop a creative strategy to bring down the debt service so future councils are not restricted by financial burdens.
"That may include lowering the amount of availability for capital improvement projects," Soliz said. "If you believe in a healthy debt, you also believe in an unhealthy surplus."
However, Truman said the finances are well-managed, but to ensure stability, the tax base needs to continue growing to balance sales tax.
"Sales tax is a very fickle mistress," Truman said. "We can get so reliant on it that we come up with shortfalls if it should dip. It's always a judicious line that we have to walk on what we're investing in and relying on that revenue stream to finance."
He said his priorities are shifting from the major thoroughfare projects to investing in residential streets, Riverside Park and playground equipment.
"We need to develop a sense of pride ... a sense of ownership that the whole city is our home," Truman said.
Truman said his greatest accomplishment on council was working with the other members to create an equitable pay scale for the city's emergency responders.
Young agreed the potential in Victoria hinges on economic growth.
While the city needs to invest in its opportunities, Young said sometimes it needs to be left up to the private market.
"There's not a one size fits all," he said. "Sometimes too much governmental control stymies growth, and we have to be careful of that."
Young said he thinks there is room for improvement and room for transparency on the council.
"The council needs to work together, have open and honest public discussions and be held accountable for our decisions," Young said. "It starts with accountability and integrity, and I have that."