Wednesday, October 22, 2014




Advertise with us

Candidate profiles for Victoria Mayoral election

May 4, 2013 at 12:04 a.m.


Editor's note: The Advocate is profiling candidates in the May 11 City Council election with the help of the League of Women Voters of Victoria. This profile features candidates for the mayoral election.

• Paul Polasek

Background/Qualifications:

I have been a lifelong resident of Victoria. I served for 7 years on the city council, 6 years as a park commissioner, 6 years as a member of the planning commission, as well as serving on the Convention and visitor's board and other boards.

Why are you seeking this office?

I wish to continue to serve on the Victoria Council but in a greater capacity. We have made great progress in the last decade, we need to continue to improve communications and increase the public trust to continue our progress. I believe my skills as a communicator would best serve the community in the position of Mayor.

What are you top three priorities?

First, we must strive to improve the public trust through better council discussion. We currently have a situation where council members seem to be voting for or against each other rather than what is in the best interest of the community. I feel strongly this can be improved on by working to ensure the council provides strong, healthy debate on each item. Second, we need to continue our progress on our roadways, specifically portions of Red River and many residential streets. Thirdly, I will work to attract developers for additional housing and commercial development.

Where do see opportunities for efficiency in city government?

There are always opportunities to improve efficiency in city government; most involve technology. Recent examples include automating the garbage pickup, recovering valuable gas from the landfill, automating our water meter reading system and maintaining our GIS mapping system. Upcoming opportunities include construction of a new wastewater treatment plant that will be much more efficient and moving the street department construction yard to the south side of town where more of the daily work is needed.

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

I do support using tax abatements to bring new business to Victoria. I am satisfied with our current model of focusing on "primary" jobs only. The addition of Caterpillar has been a textbook case. What followed Caterpillar should be very visible to Victorians - new retail (Wal-Mart), new housing, new apartments and an increase in sales tax? The creation of the spin-off jobs as a result of Caterpillar is very evident.

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

I have no problem with city staff applying for grant money when it is available. I do feel it is our obligation to our citizens to try and return a small portion of the state and federal taxes we pay to our community. Over the years the city has used small amounts of state and federal money for many things such as paying for police and fire needs, environmental projects, road improvements etc. A most recent example was the energy usage review administered by Chevron Oil Company. Some of the funding used was passed through by the federal government.

• Will Armstrong

Background/Qualifications:

Serving as mayor since 2004. Long-time local businessman, and city councilman from 1973-79. Former member of Victoria Planning Commission, and past president of Small Business Development Center. Enthusiastic salesman for Victoria, community leader, and avid fisherman. Married to Linda for 49 years, with 2 married children and 4 grandchildren.

Why are you seeking this office?

I'm seeking re-election to finish the work we're currently in, complete several long-term projects, and explore exciting new opportunities. There are too many good things on the horizon and too many important issues on the line to walk away now. Early in my current term, some economic development projects that I've been working on began bearing fruit, including the new Caterpillar plant. I truly enjoy being a salesman for Victoria, and I've cultivated strong relationships with leaders at the local, state, and federal levels. Our city has a great story to tell, and I want to help tell it.

What are you top three priorities?

My priorities begin with economic development, and I want to continue bringing in new businesses, creating jobs and building Victoria. Hard work in these areas is beginning to pay off in ways we all can see. Another priority is to continue aggressively repairing and improving our city infrastructure (such as streets) without raising taxes. We live in an older city and maintaining it presents many challenges. A third vital priority, and one which I've been committed to since my first campaign, is to make Victoria a place where our children and grandchildren will want to live and raise their families.

Where do see opportunities for efficiency in city government?

During the annual budget process, the City Council goes through the entire proposed budget department-by-department to ensure that resources are being allocated efficiently. This often means making tough decisions when balancing the needs of departments with availability of funds. I've overseen many improvements in efficiency at the city, including the hundreds of thousands of dollars we've saved by taking over operation of the wastewater treatment plant from GBRA. We've also modernized our trash pickup system, which has streamlined trash collection while reducing accidents. As mayor, I'm also interested in the ideas and recommendations of city employees for improving efficiency.

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

Tax abatements can be effective incentives for economic development. As my leadership on City Council reflects, I'm strongly committed to economic development and bringing in new businesses. When communities won't offer incentives, this signals that they're not interested in growth. When businesses look to relocate, several sites often compete. When sites are basically equal, the decision to locate is often based on incentives and relationships with local leaders. I have a proven record of building relationships to bring jobs to Victoria. However, incentives must also be provided. As any fisherman knows, fish won't bite on a naked hook.

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

I support seeking grants that will help improve public safety by assisting our police, firefighters and EMS personnel. I also support grant applications that aid children, teens, the elderly and crime victims in Victoria. In addition, I'm supportive of grants that help improve our quality of life, such as grants for our parks and library. However, I oppose seeking grants for things that may prove overly burdensome to maintain or grants based on concepts that require constant grant funding for support. Free money isn't really free, since in the end it comes from you and me.

• Henry Perez

Background/Qualifications:

As a concerned citizen, I feel qualified to run for office if I don't agree how our city officials are running our city and taxpayer needs.

Why are you seeking this office?

I am seeking this office because I represent the south part of Victoria. They asked me to run for this office because of the mayor's want to build a sewer plant on the south side, in the middle of a neighborhood. The regional sewer plant on Highway 59 is at a 50 percent capacity. It would take 25,000 more people to move into the city before it reaches 90 percent capacity to build it. The cost is $20,000,000. The regional sewer plant was built in a way where it can be expanded to make it run longer. It was built on 42 acres.

What are your top three priorities?

1. Stop the sewer plant and save taxpayers $18,000,000.

2. Repair our pot hole streets

3. Listen to the taxpayers

Where do see opportunities for efficiency in city government?

Lower our tax rate so businesses can move to our city.

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

Tax abatements are always welcomed by businesses that want to move to our city.

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

It depends what the projects contain.

• Richard Deases

Candidate did not respond to questionnaire.

• Omar Rachid

Background/Qualifications:

My name is Omar Rachid. I'm a business consultant and physician recruiter. Previously, I held management and executive positions with The Southland Corporation, Circle K, C.L. Thomas, Inc. and Citizens Medical Center.

I'm very active in the community and have served in many capacities. Please check www.omarformayorcom for additional information.

Why are you seeking this office?

I'm seeking the office of mayor and wish to serve simply because I'm driven by my passion and love for my fellow citizens that make Victoria the lovely and welcoming city that it is.

I strongly believe that our city needs New Vision and New Leadership so that we can take it in a new direction to improve the quality of life we all deserve. I believe that I have the vision and leadership skills necessary to take Victoria to the next level... I want to take Victoria from Good to GREAT!

What are your top three priorities?

1. Police pay - We need to provide a pay increase for our police officers so that we can stop the exodus from this department, as well as a budget that would provide competitive compensation package to help us fill the 11 vacancies in the department.

2. Roads and infrastructure - I want to prioritize the rebuilding of our roads to meet the needs of our citizens.

3. Housing - We are in desperate need of housing at various price points so that teachers, young people, police officers, firefighters and others can remain and/or relocate to our community.

Where do see opportunities for efficiency in city government?

I believe that we need to look at every department within the city to determine the right number of staff needed. We need to look at every opportunity to reduce payroll all the while achieve efficiency without affecting services. It's imperative that we do this from time to time to ensure there aren't any redundancies and to eliminate waste of payroll dollars.

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

Tax abatement and free trade zones are very prevalent in today's competitive market to attract businesses. The reality is that if we don't offer these incentives, then another community will offer such, and we could certainly miss out on the opportunity. However, after having secured the business and provided the incentives, we have an obligation to our taxpayers to have a proactive plan to inspect the performance of the recipient business to ensure that it is meeting the performance measures of the abatement. Other programs are also available such as Chapter 380 Agreements and Tax Incentive Financing.

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

I believe that we need to evaluate each federal grant on its own merit. We simply just can't have a policy that is always in favor or not. We need to make the best decision based on all the information available to us.

SHARE

Comments


Powered By AdvocateDigitalMedia