I hope our voters have recovered a bit from “voter fatigue” as we do have a city election coming up May 9. There will be no school board election, second time in a row, due to lack of opposition to the incumbents. In the city races, Council members Morrison and Farmer drew no opposition, they will be on ballot, but unopposed. The at-large race for Mayor drew two new candidates, Lars Nyberg and William T. Bryan, Jr. I hope to have an article on that race soon
An interesting race is developing in SMD 4 between Fredd Adams and Richard Bart. The incumbent, Emilio Perez-Jimenez is retiring, as he promised he would do when elected. A note to anyone in SMD 4: if you have moved there since the last election, but have not notified Elections, you might find that you can only vote in your previous precinct, rather than where you now live. One of the details of election law, failing to give elections a change of address doesn't mean you can't vote; it means you will vote ONE time only, in the precinct their records still have you. If you moved from the Lake to 14th St. without notifying elections, you can vote on the Mayor's city-wide race, but not the SMD4 race where you now live. If this applies to you, and you wish to vote where you reside, you have until April 8 to notify Elections of your new address. Phone is 659-6541-2.
Today I am writing on the SMD 4 contest, I hope to get to the mayoral race shortly.
Both candidates were willing to spend time responding to questions. This Blog does NOT endorse candidates, but we try to give readers a view of the positions represented.
A brief bio first. Fredd Adams is a 12 year resident, a pastor and mortician. He has a history of community activism and involvement with the WTOS advocacy organization. Mr. Bart is an Air Force veteran, former San Angelo police officer, taught Spanish and coached one semester at Edison before being called to active duty on the IMA program. He is currently co-manager of the Sherwood Way Wal Mart.
I opened the interview asking, what are your priorities, what are your primary campaign talking points going to be?
Adams told me his slogan was going to be “Continued community commitment”. He stressed his involvement with WTOS and advocacy for the Blackshear community and said he wanted to make sure we “didn't forget what has been done, nor forget what needs to be done”.
Bart on the same topic mentioned his personal involvement in Blackshear, he wanted to make sure the city continued its partnership with National Guard and Corps of Engineers in clearing blighted and condemned houses in that community.
I asked about city employee pay.
Bart responded that we had spent too much money on the comparable pay study, the information could have been obtained for less money, but city employees, from water to police, deserve a raise approaching the comparable pay.
Adams responded that not only city employess, but all workers in San Angelo deserved a living wage. He declined to put a dollar figure on that, and did not characterize it as a city minimum wage. Adams was willing to describe what he sought as a “wage that would allow a married couple with children to afford adequate food, safe and affordable housing, and the parents not having to work two jobs each, so they could have time with their families”. Adams added he would want to look at the medical benefits given city employees.
I asked Adams, focusing on city pay only, if the pay raise could not be found in the budget, would you support a tax increase to achieve it? He responded he would only support any tax increase if a canvass of his SMD4 voters showed the people he was elected to represent were willing to approve it.
Same question to Bart, he responded he would support no tax hike without a city-wide referendum in support.
I asked about their opinion of the Economic Development Corporation's use of our half-cent sales tax.
Adams said he would give them a grade of “B”, they seem to be on the right track. Bart said he wanted them to focus on bringing in businesses with a good pay scale, but thought they were making progress in that area.
Moving to the Police Force and the problem of retaining good officers as well as attracting new officers.
Bart's response went back to the comparable pay study, yes we are losing good people to other cities as well as the Border Patrol. He said his primary reason for leaving SAPD was that, much as he loved the job, he could not provide for his family on that pay, he had kids and college, etc. to consider and had to leave for that reason over all. He would also advocate for “community policing”; having an officer become more than a faceless uniform in a passing car, but a person the neighbors knew and would be more likely to confide in.
Adams, while favoring a pay raise, as for all employees, told me he did not believe we would move past a retention problem so long as we had an elected Police Chief. He specifically did not point fingers at the current Chief, but said he thought the quadrennial divisiveness brought about by elections had, and would continue to have, a negative effect on morale and cost us officers.
As to the recent “Doggie” ordinances, it seems that 4-3 vote is likely to shift whichever candidate prevails.
I asked why they chose to run, it certainly isn't the money:
Adams was the first to file and told me he “did not want to do this. I encouraged other people, but when I saw no one else willing, I decided someone needed to do the job”. Bart stressed his history of service, thought it was his time to step up. Both candidates expressed the opinion that we have now the best Council in their experience, and they wanted to be part of it. Not quite identical language, but on that point very close.
I did ask Adams one question I had not put to Bart. In that he was a pastor, did he have an opinion as Councilman Morrison's comments following the Muslim invocation at Council and the little tempest that stirred?
He responded that “our Founders were men of deep religious faith. In God we trust... I do not believe we should have had a Muslim prayer to open Council. We are a Christian nation”. Our conversation had gotten somewhat informal, and I asked, “Is this something you would object to seeing published? I don't have to use it.” He responded that he had no objection to seeing it in public.
Conchoinfo does not endorse candidates. As close as I will come; we have two decent, honest men vying for an open seat. I urge the voters to listen closely to their campaigns. In my opinion, SMD4 (not my district) is in a win-win situation, both the city and the district would be well served by either candidate.