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Candidate profiles for Victoria City Council District 3

By Victoria Advocate
April 28, 2013 at 3:02 p.m.
Updated April 27, 2013 at 11:28 p.m.

Jeff Bauknight

Editor's note: The Advocate is profiling candidates in the May 11 City Council election. This profile features candidates for the unexpired term of District 3.

• Jeff Bauknight

Background/Qualifications• Married with two daughters

• Raised in Victoria

• Graduated from Victoria High School

• Received Bachelor of Science and Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering degrees from TAMU - College Station

• Was responsible for $100 million yearly budgets with Intel Corporation

• Owner of a Victoria based business

Why are you seeking this office?

As someone who grew up in Victoria and returned to raise a family, I feel a deep love for our city. I want to see it continue to grow economically and in the quality of life it affords its citizens. I feel it is a citizen's responsibility to make a positive impact on their community. I have actively participated in other organizations to further the interests of Victoria and now would like to have the opportunity to have an impact on our local government.

What are your top three priorities?

1. Effectively balance the budget with respect to the need to maintain current city assets versus the capital expenditures required to support city growth and development.

2. Support continued economic growth and development.

3. Responsibly develop the yearly budget to ensure that the services offered by the city continue to be first rate, are not extravagant and are affordable for its citizens.

Where do you see opportunities for efficiency in city government?

Efficiency in city government could be improved by an agreement among the City Council members on mid- to long-term goals for the city of Victoria. By gaining agreement on the shared goals, the council can work effectively and efficiently toward accomplishing them. These goals are laid out in the Victoria 2025 Comprehensive Plan. The City Council should review these goals again, not to update them but to remember and refocus on the direction for the city. This plan can then be a common reference when specific issues come up for a vote.

What is your position on tax abatements as an incentive for economic development?

I support tax abatements as an incentive for economic development; however, each tax abatement proposal needs to be reviewed individually. Not all incentives will be the same for each case. I feel that by bringing new businesses to Victoria using these short-term incentives, the city tax base begins to slowly broaden. As the tax base broadens, the tax rate charged should begin to lower as well, thereby becoming a benefit to all taxpayers.

What is your position on the city seeking state and federal grant funds for projects?

I feel that there are some worthwhile grant programs designed for realistic products and technologies. I do not think it is the government's responsibility to push programs on local jurisdictions by dangling the proverbial carrot in the form of grant money. When the grant program is for items such as necessary upgrades to first responder communications or for disaster response coordination, the money is spent on items that are good for the entire public and not for a singular cause.

• VicCaldwell

Background / Qualifications• 2004 Leadership Victoria graduate

• 3 years - Victoria County Appraisal Board (2004-07, Secretary 2006 and 2007)

• 6 years - Victoria Parks Commission (2007-Present, serving second term as Chairman, served as Vice-Chairman and Executive Committee member)

• Hotel Occupancy Tax Fund Committee (2011-Present)

• 2011 City Redistricting Committee

Why are you seeking this office?

I believe we are at a critical time in our community. Our city is currently blessed with good fortune. To ensure that we don't squander this opportunity, now more than ever, we need experienced, thoughtful, proven leadership. As citizens of Victoria we deserve and should demand council members who are accountable, unbiased and transparent. Our biggest measure of success should be our children seeing a future for themselves here. If they don't, we are failing. We need someone who will make the hard decisions today so that Victoria continues to have a bright future. I believe I am that someone.

What are you top three priorities?

1. Regaining the trust of the people of Victoria in their City Council by holding council members accountable for their actions.

2. Promoting business growth by attracting new business but also by helping existing business succeed.

3. Take advantage of the current economic good fortune to lower taxes.

Where do you see opportunities for efficiency in city government?

I believe our city management is doing a good job as stewards of our city. I think their biggest challenge are council members who often let personal agendas and special interests get in the way of thorough discussion and sound decision making for the community as a whole. By holding council members accountable for their actions, we can eliminate such distractions and provide clearer direction to our city management. That in turn will provide opportunities for efficiency and savings.

What is your position on tax abatements as an incentive for economic development?

It has become the norm among all cities to offer tax abatements, land or infrastructure deals to attract new business development. In order for Victoria to be competitive with those cities we must use the same tools. That said, we mustn't give away the farm when negotiating these deals. I believe there must be value in exchange for the concessions we make, and we must do a better job of overseeing those deals to ensure all conditions are being met. Using incentives wisely will help ensure the economic future of Victoria for us and our children.

I believe that a councilman's responsibility is to the citizens of Victoria. I think there are grant opportunities out there that we have not pursued that could have been beneficial to our city. If we have an opportunity to receive state or federal monies for the betterment of our community, then we must aggressively pursue those opportunities. I don't, however, support pursuing funds just to get them. In the long run, that course can end up costing us money. It's our tax money, and where possible and practical we should bring it back to our community.

• John Hyak

Background/Qualifications:

The Hyak family has been living and operating businesses in Victoria for more than 90 years. We like Victoria and want this area to continue to prosper. I attended Victoria schools, Victoria College and earned a degree in Chemical Engineering from A&I/A&M Kingsville. I work at Formosa as a Department Manager.

Why are you seeking this office?

I am a lifelong resident of Victoria. I see myself and the other 63,000+ citizens as having a "stake" in the future growth and development of Victoria. I am seeking this office because we need a Council person who will listen to you, to be your "pipeline" into City Council. Also, the city of Victoria is big business. I think Victoria can benefit from having a technical person on the Council that can go head-to-head with the engineers and experts. Through my employer I have gained big business experience in planning, budgeting, scheduling and controlling quality on multi-million dollar projects.

What are your top three priorities?

My top priority is to gain information from the voters on what they want for their tax dollars. Initially, this would be accomplished through phone calls and emails. Second, use this information to help prioritize Victoria's needs for the immediate future (now) and long term. And three, improve the communication among the citizens, government and council. Ultimately, we will have promoted a city that is more open, transparent and accountable and results in a Victoria that is a better place to live, raise a family, run a business, retire.

Where do you see opportunities for efficiency in city government?

Efficiency, business or government starts with good planning, the elimination of waste and the establishment of priorities in establishing budgets and progress reports that provide a "yardstick" to show how projects are going. As to specifics, I would look into insourcing and outsourcing services. Consideration would be given to providing a service in-house with available manpower versus contracting externally at a cost to the city or conversely external versus in-house. Essentially, whatever would be considered economically advantageous for the city.

What is your position on tax abatements as an incentive for economic development?

I am in favor of incentives. If we are going to compete with other cities in attracting business, we have to have an incentive program. Obviously, if we can increase our tax base and sales receipts we can all benefit. For example, in 2012, Victoria experienced an increase in sales receipts, which we directly and indirectly benefited. There was a decrease in our property tax rate. Money is expended on infrastructure, parks and recreational activities, and the city is able to maintain a high level of city services. Additionally, a "healthy" city attracts more restaurants, entertainment and shopping opportunities.

What is your position on the city seeking state and federal grant funds for projects?

I think the good or bad of state and federal grants depends upon the project. I am in support of grants that will enhance our city services, make our city safer, improve the health and welfare of our citizens and promote efficiency. For example, we have received funds for programs that targeted traffic safety, and grant funding supports our city bus service. Therefore, I would support state and federal grant funding on a case-by-case basis.

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