Both candidates for the District 3 seat on city council agreed the city could have improved its communication during February’s winter storm, when much of the city lost power and running water, during a Wednesday debate in advance of the May 1 election.
Incumbent Jeff Bauknight and challenger Aaron Franco discussed Victoria’s future during the virtual debate, which was hosted by the Victoria Advocate and the Victoria Chamber of Commerce.
Bauknight, who was first elected to represent District 3 in 2013, said overall he thought city leadership and staff handled February’s crisis well.
“We still struggled with communication at times,” he said, noting that the emergency operations center pushes information to the county judge and the mayor, making it “a little more difficult” to get information to council members.
Bauknight, a Victoria native who is 51, is seeking his third full term on city council. Franco, 26, moved to Victoria from Corpus Christi in 2019 and said he was running for council after falling in love with Victoria and wanting to get more involved in the city’s future. Bauknight is one of four council members whose terms expire this year. The council members in the three other seats did not face any challengers in their respective districts, and those elections were canceled.
The candidates discussed the $15.07 million that is coming to city coffers through the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.
“I wish we weren’t receiving $15 million because I don’t agree with the $1.9 trillion federal stimulus and everything that’s in it,” Bauknight said. “But as it is, we are getting $15 million.”
Bauknight outlined the allowable areas where the city could send the money, including on lost revenue, local nonprofits as well as water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.
Franco said he thought the money should go “directly to the people of Victoria and help them get out of these hard times.”
Both candidates said they wouldn’t plan to run for mayor if they lost the May 1 election for council. The city is holding a July 3 special election to elect the next mayor, after the unexpected death of Mayor Rawley McCoy in March. Candidates seeking that office have until May 3, after the general election date, to file for a spot on the ballot.
Bauknight said the simultaneous entry of McCoy and City Manager Jesús Garza into Victoria’s city government was a “breath of fresh air,” and both candidates agreed that maintaining that momentum was crucial for Victoria.
You can watch the full debate on the Victoria Advocate’s Facebook page.