Mayoral candidate says incumbents must go

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

April 23, 2013 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated April 23, 2013 at 11:24 p.m.

There are two candidate camps for Victoria mayor and its City Council: those who are currently on council and those who want to be.

During a televised candidate forum Tuesday night hosted by the League of Women Voters of Victoria, mayoral candidate Richard Deases, 22, said if residents want to return to the way of life of raising families in Victoria, two elected officials need to go.

"Get the mayor and Mr. (Paul) Polasek out," Deases said. "They're the reason the city is the way it is."

However, the incumbent mayor, Will Armstrong, 72, said he is proud of the city's condition and his contributions to it.

Since he took office, the city has begun a recycling program, built a hike and bike trail, installed a splash pad and brought an international company to town.

The mayoral race includes five candidates of varying backgrounds from businessmen, longtime council members, retirees and retail clerks. Early voting begins Monday.

The other three city races for councilman of districts 3, 5, and 6 joined the forum.

Polasek, 47, who gave up his seat on District 3 to run for mayor, echoed Armstrong's remarks and pointed to the city's financial state in response to Deases.

"The amount of debt in dollars is higher than it was 10 years ago, but so is the price of a gallon of milk," Polasek said.

Polasek, who co-owns a software company and has a master's degree in finance, said the city is conservative with issuing debt and does not do so for day-to-day operations, unlike the federal government.

Deases, a Kohl's employee, continued blasting Armstrong and Polasek, saying residents need a voice "who cares about this city" and who will address the debt.

Addressing Deases, Polasek said "there's a lot of misinformation floating around" about the city's finances.

According to the city's financial records, as of April 15, the city has $98.4 million in debt paid by property taxes, $69 million in debt paid by utility revenue and $4.7 million in debt paid by sales taxes approved by voters.

Armstrong, who has served as mayor since 2004, pointed to the city's high bond rating and professional financial staff.

"I don't think the people who are running for council are as qualified (as national credit rating agencies) to rate whether we're doing a good job," Armstrong said.

The fourth candidate, Omar Rachid, 52, agreed with each candidate in the forum at least once.

Rachid, who runs a business consulting firm, called himself a hardworking doer who wants to serve the city.

His biggest issue is whether the city has enough first responders and whether their benefits are good enough.

"We cannot have a good quality of life if the people of Victoria don't feel safe," Rachid said.

He also commented on the city's debt, bringing concern to the amount of interest paid annually versus principal on the final bill.

Polasek said issuing debt is critical to running the city.

"It's not possible to do capital infrastructure projects without borrowing," he said.

The fifth candidate, Henry Perez, 76, retired from Alcoa, was not present at the forum.



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