Hospital split issue among Precinct 1 candidates
Oct. 20, 2012 at 5:20 a.m.
No matter how the votes fall, Victoria County's Precinct 1 residents will have new representation in 2013 on the commissioners court.
Democratic Party representative Danny Garcia and Republican Party representative Tony Mallette are on the November ballot for the seat.
The Democratic nominee for Precinct 1 Commissioner said he has been ready to serve since he filed for office.
Garcia said the major issue facing the county at this point is the hospital - which he does not support selling.
"What are people supposed to do without a county hospital?" Garcia asked. "At DeTar, you have to have the money when you go in there. At Citizens, you can work out a payment plan."
Overall, Garcia said he wished he had more information about the issue and whether the county-owned hospital has become a burden on tax payers.
If elected, Garcia said he would not lose sight of his intentions.
"When you become a commissioner, you can't quit thinking like a normal person," Garcia said. "Financially, it (the sell) may benefit us, but sometimes financing overtakes life itself, and one can't survive without the other."
Garcia said more information about the issue should be made public, and he would be an advocate to communicate more with the public about issues that impact them.
Garcia, a retired Texas Department of Transportation specialist, said his expertise is roads and bridges.
"You have an expert right here in your backyard who can provide guidance and possibly save us some money," Garcia said.
He said he wants to create a priority list of road projects that takes a practical approach to solutions.
"When I was at TxDOT, my motto was K.I.S.S. - Keep it simple, stupid," Garcia said. "If you see something that's broke, fix it."
He said the major challenges for the county will be meeting infrastructure needs, the hospital and setting up good policies and regulations.
The Republican nominee for Precinct 1 Commissioner said the position needs a planner and an innovative leader - "almost a magician."
Tony Mallette, a 67-year-old sheriff's deputy, said his goal, if elected, is to improve the county's partnerships with the city and citizens.
"We need to hear the voice of the people and work on solutions together," Mallette said. "I'm very motivated to do the best I can do."
He said the top challenges facing the court are bringing Citizens Medical Center to a resolution, resolving draining problems and cleaning up the litter and dumping on county roads.
Mallette said he supports selling the hospital.
"The sad thing is that the county government has not communicated with citizens about alternatives," Mallette said. "A sale is going to be imminent."
He wants to see a specialized hospital take its place that would save patients long drives to Houston or San Antonio.
If the hospital sells, Mallette said he wants to use the revenue to develop walk-in clinics and auxiliary services to the hospital.
As for county infrastructure projects, Mallette said he supports planning for the courthouse annex expansion, parking improvements and a new jail facility.
"We need to put all ideas on the table of what the county needs in the future," Mallette said.