City Council candidates agreed at Monday evening’s debate that the city of Victoria should play a role in funding economic development in the city.
Lee Cantu, Duane Crocker, Aaron Franco and Chad Hall debated issues in front of a live audience at the University of Houston-Victoria. Joe Geistman was not able to attend the debate because of a personal emergency.
Cantu said he was “absolutely” for the city funding economic development. He is especially pro-industrial-development and would like to see more plants bringing more jobs to the area, he said.
“If we can continue to grow the industrial part, I’m fully for that,” he said.
Crocker said he’d like to see the city be more actively involved with economic development. The Victoria Economic Development Corporation plays a role in economic development in the city, he said, but it’s not the end all, be all.
He said he’d also like the city to focus on helping businesses in Victoria that want to expand. While he doesn’t support subsidizing private industry, he said he would like to see public and private industry partner to build development in the city.
“We want our city to grow and be successful,” said Franco. “And part of that means investing in ourselves.”
He said the community often hears talk about trying to bring different businesses to town, but he’d like to see the city invest in companies that are already here.
Hall agreed with the previous candidates’ wishes to see the city fund economic development, but he also said it’s just as important sometimes for the city to just get out of the way.
He said sometimes there’s too much red tape that puts too much of a burden on businesses, like mandates to put in sidewalks when there’s not much foot traffic in the area.
Victoria needs to avoid putting undue burden on businesses, he said.
“We need community involvement,” said Hall in his closing statement. “For Victoria to grow, we have to have more people involved.”
Franco said that while he hasn’t lived in Victoria as long as the other candidates, he is dedicated to the city.
“We need a fresh set of eyes here in Victoria,” he said. “And that’s exactly what you get with me.”
Crocker concluded his time by saying he was glad to see quality candidates running against him.
“These are people that care about our community and are dedicated,” he said. But, he said, experience matters, which he argued he brings with his time as an attorney and working for the city.
Cantu concluded by saying he is running his campaign on three principles — experience, commitment and honesty.
“If I can’t be honest with y’all, you don’t need me as a city councilman,” Cantu said.
The special election will be held on July 3. Early voting begins Wednesday.