Mineral Wells Area News

Local Election Candidates Submit Written Forum Answers

Local Election Candidates Submit Written Forum Answers
April 23
04:19 2022

By Bob Kaspar and Amy Bearden

Special Election is May 7, Early Voting starts April 25

Early voting for the special election begins on April 25 and since a local public forum is not feasible this year, Mineral Wells Area News asked candidates to participate in a written format. Each candidate was given three questions to answer so voters could learn more about their vision for the city. MWAN wanted to share their answers and publish them for the record.

Reporter Bob Kaspar asked all candidates the following three questions:

  1. Many Mineral Wells residents cite repairs to the city’s infrastructure as a primary concern. As mayor, what steps would you take to repair the city’s roads and water system? How would your administration fund these projects?
  2. Twenty-three percent of Mineral Wells residents live below the poverty line. What policies would your administration put in place to increase economic opportunity for Mineral Wells residents?
  3. Demographic shifts have lead to explosive growth across the State of Texas. Mineral Wells has experienced a 1% population growth every year for the past five years. How can our city attract new residents while still maintaining the small town charm that makes it such a unique place to live?

Written responses were received by all candidates in a timely manner. Their answers to each question are published below.

Mayor Race

Incumbent Mayor Candidate Regan Johnson

Mayor Regan Johnson

Response to #1:Repairs to streets and infrastructure are underway and the 2018 Bond Projects are expected to be complete by the end of this year. We allocated over $900,000 for purchase of street building and maintenance equipment to pave roads in house and maintain the. The street department is still waiting on one more roller and a patch truck to arrive. The city is also hoping to partner with the county to pave some each year. The council also has earmarked a large portion of the American Rescue Plan Act funds the city received for improvements at the water treatment plant.”

Response to #2: “The council is not legislative, in that, we don’t put policies in place. That would happen at the state or federal level. However, we are focused on increased economic opportunities through economic development. The council would also like to see a trade school here and the airport development group is working on that. The city currently has about 20 positions open and would like to train people up for more opportunity as well. There are currently many businesses hiring in Mineral Wells. There is a fiberglass company currently building out their new facility in town and will add another 30+ jobs. We are working toward teaching, training, and hiring at home.”

Response to #3: “We are working quickly to get ahead of the coming growth. The council will soon see a recommendation for the firm to complete the Comprehensive Plan for the city. This will be a citizen driven, implementable plan. A large and important part of that plan is mapping out what Mineral Wells looks like for the future growth. For example, where the busier thoroughfares are, where commercial and residential should be located, and public facilities. It is important that we look now at connectivity and how we travel around our community so we can prepare for the growth and still have a place we can navigate and feels like “home”. What we will avoid is looking like “Anywhere America” with box store after box store and covered in fast food restaurants. The hospital CEO, Fire Chief, and MWISD Superintendent are a few of the people serving on the steering committee for that because we are working together to plan for all of the needs of the citizens.”

Mayor Candidate Opponent Christopher Perricone

Mayor Opponent Candidate Christopher Perricone

Response to #1: I am not sure I completely agree with the question above about the city’s infrastructure being the main concern in light of the recent tax appraisal numbers that may be taking the cake. Nonetheless, first thing I’d do as mayor is hold a town hall for the people to voice that directly and dig a little deeper into what part of the city infrastructure and water system is most pressing so we could prioritize our plan of attack to remedy the problem. I share about this later, but an example of what I mean about prioritizing “infrastructure” is seen in the SW and SE part of town where there are many four-way intersections with No stop signs.

For some context to those that are new here; the Citizens and I, have been told since 2015 that the vote on 4b funds shows overwhelming support that this town cares more about the Baker Hotel than they do the infrastructure. That particular vote of the people which was less than 10% of the population has been cited as the reason why much of the current vision on the downtown and Baker hotel has happened. When I was mayor, I found that the vote was not just for the Baker (as it has been now allocated for) but it was for many other items. I bring that up to get you thinking as to “why” this question when its never been the focus of the council? Is there something wrong with the pursuit of this council (except me) with the Baker Hotel? If it’s true that infrastructure is our main concern then why do we allocate more money, time and resources to the Baker or downtown? The Bible says, you can know someone by what they do (James 2:24). We are spending our taxpayer’s money on the downtown over the streets which is what this current mayor and councilwoman have all voted for in past and likely would continue to vote for in the future.

I disagree with the current council candidates in their pursuit to place the Baker and the downtown as the priority of the people. They have mocked the citizens countless times with their arrogance of ‘we know better than the citizens’ and thankfully one of the worst critics of the citizens is gone who from the Dias who shouted at one of her local citizen bosses, “shut up and pay your taxes!” So, first things first, let’s make sure the streets are paramount and make sure our budget reflects that.

Most cities outsource their roads to reputable contractors who have the know-how. From what I have seen thus far, if we don’t have the know-how in house then we must outsource it. In finding those contractors I will make sure to hold them to their contracts unlike the current mayor and city council member. One of my first, street repairs, I dealt with while mayor was the south loop (MH379). I tried to hold the line for the citizens money on a 10% plus change order before the work even began because the contractor said, they didn’t anticipate the hot weather “in Texas” which affected the asphalt causing bleeding. I voted to not extend the additional thousands whereas the current mayor and councilwoman voted to go ahead because they seemingly don’t really care about our money as much as I do. Btw, that road was completed and doesn’t even have a high enough rating to handle the 18 wheelers at full weight capacity!

As mayor I will put the due diligence in before every vote and will make sure that our tax payer money is being used wisely instead of wasted on unnecessary oversights. As mayor, I will do my best to hold the contractors to the highest standards and would like to have one of our city experts with the roads act more as a QC when taxpayer money is being spent or any work is being done in the city. As mayor I will be relentless in the pursuit for sound business ideas and practices as it relates to our infrastructure.

One thing I would immediately work on is the fact that many of our roads in SE and SW do not have stop signs at 4-way intersections. It’s a travesty that these simple fixes have not been addressed already! I will install the signs myself if I need to! There are little ones that play close to those intersection and God forbid something were to happen to a little one if all we needed to do was dig a hole, mix some concrete and place some stop signs in there.

As for the water, you can’t do the streets without taking care of the plumbing at the same time. If I recall the cost per mile was around 750K-1m to redo a mile of the sewer and roads. By my estimates that means we need roughly 21 million to 28 million to redo aprx 20-25% of the streets. To accomplish that first we must have some wisdom and restraint in our budget. I believe the city manager and finance director have that wisdom should the council vote to honor the citizens desire to focus on the streets. Wisdom must be accompanied with restraint from the council to hold line on our budget here because the city would need to reallocate funds from downtown or Baker to accomplish this without another revenue stream as I understand it.

I personally believe that the two primary roles of local governments are to use our money for public safety and infrastructure. Both of those priorities have been put on the back burner for far too long because the council never had the wisdom and resolve to say no the many other voices that are speaking in their ear. For me, my ear is to the people and I hear them telling me that they would rather see our money go into something that bears fruit for years to come. We are just now finishing bond money that was passed for the roads in 2017 and with inflation coming perhaps we should be looking at locking in at lower interest rate for the roads now so we can pay that note back with “cheap” money as inflation hits. Also, I don’t foresee the price of materials or labor doing down anytime soon. So, I’d support borrowing that money now to do as much of the work as we can afford. The one hire I would do if it hasn’t already been done in the city is a grant writer that would be constantly searching for funds that we have been possibly missing out on. I would also be asking around. While I was mayor, I met with over 500 other mayors and one thing I learned, is that some of those other cities have a lot of extra “free” road materials. Seems to me that simply doing some good old-fashioned networking could prove very fruitful for materials for us. One other thing, that might be worth looking into is a brink laying machine. They don’t cost much and only take one person to operate. Since we have brick factories here that could prove to be a very efficient way to get a better driving surface then what we currently have in many places. All feasible ideas need to be considered and vetted to see if they would be beneficial for us citizens. Anyway, once the decision was made on a path forward with a priority list then we could look to borrow the funds to lock in the interest rate and then pay it back with cheaper dollars, Lord willing from an additional revenue stream instead of the taxpayers back pocket.

As it relates to infrastructure, I’m very concerned about the scarcity of water and the inflation of materials along with the difficult labor conditions. There are no easy solutions to the problems that plague us and other cities. The cities that will shine during this time like a beacon are those that have thoughtful, courageous leaders whose heart is set on the betterment of the people they serve.”

Response to #2: “For starters, I wouldn’t vote for tax increases like the current mayor and councilwoman have done every single time. Second, unlike the current councilwoman Watson and Mayor Johnson I wouldn’t vote to remove an elderly lady from her home and force her to put up thousands for a bond just because that’s what the city attorney recommends. Third, and this is where I’ll spend some words; I would simply make the locals a priority. Once again, the vision portrayed by this current council has been clear. Their vision has rarely if ever focused on the those below the poverty line. In fact, the passing of the TIRZ by Mayor Johnson and Councilwoman Watson is diametrically opposed the root of this question. I voted against the TIRZ because it will oppress the poor and those on fixed income more than any other group of people.

I have a simple perspective on government. Government is supposed to focus on those they govern by protecting them and providing the infrastructure for them to thrive. This current local government has repeatedly, crushed the poor in their pursuit of the almighty “tourist dollar” which is heralded to eventually save our city because of the downtown. The problem with this view is that 1) the return on the taxpayers’ money will not been seen in most of their lifetimes here. And 2) this risky pursuit isn’t one of the priorities of government. What would I personally do and advocate for? First, I would get down on my knees and ask every God-fearing Christian on the council with me to join me as we pray and ask Him for guidance. After much prayer, if and only if the council was in unison about revamping our vision to focus on the locals instead of trying to entice the tourist, then we would make drastic changes in the prioritization of our finances. Changes that would include removing the TIRZ, changes that would include using the 4b money to improve our town instead the Baker boys back pocket. Instead of that money being potentially wasted on the pursuit of the elusive post pandemic tourist, one idea of mine is we could use it for a new revenue stream. Imagine if we used those funds for a 100 acres solar farm in and allowed the energy to be sold back on the grid and then shared equally amongst all the homes in town. Based on the numbers I was given by a solar farm installer, for about 5 million, we as a city, could provide for apprx half of all the houses state average electricity here in Mineral Wells. By wisely using taxpayers’ money to lower the cost of living we would be eliminating a huge burden on our fixed income citizens, most of which are below poverty.

Before I became mayor, I was negotiating the purchase of a large building here in town, so that I could fix it up and set up a home repair training school specifically for veterans and those that had the heart to learn. The school was actually focused on two things. 1)it would train up men and women by giving them a skill set that would allow them to open their own business in our community. 2) This school would be a nonprofit allowing those in training to get on-the-job training by doing free repairs on the local housing stock. The great thing about this school was that there are leaders right now in our community who would teach there, and there are donors like Lowes and DeWalt who would supply many of the materials and tools to the school. A school like this would be huge benefit to those with low income because it would help fix their homes up and many other’s for free through the school’s OJT training and it would provide a new source of income for those that completed school. We need good ideas like that and others I have heard in town to help one another.

The point is that with prayer, a good idea, and courage to pursue it we can help not only the low-income neighbors of our town but we can also help all those around us by improving the housing stock and increasing the earning capacity of those around us by giving them a hand-up instead of a hand out. By the way, I know that code enforcement would be happy knowing that much of the work being done through the school would be from overseers who were masters in their craft ensuring that codes was being followed and that houses were not being left to become so dilapidated that they need to be razed.”

Response to #3: “Once again this goes back to the current vision that is being cast by Mayor Johnson and Councilwoman Watson. They have never made the local a priority like I have. Every vote that I made was in the best interest of locals. It’s no wonder we are lagging behind the state when our housing stock hasn’t been focused on. The infrastructure has been almost forgotten. The solution is simple—stop focusing on trying to attract the people from the town around the bend and get to work handling the issues of our town.

I already mentioned the stop signs which are a simple fix. Another one that I have heard multiple times is that of a central place for information. If you want real growth then why not pursue having a zero property taxes? There are other cities on our state that have accomplished that before and so why can’t we? Those cities that did that, had a unique revenue stream (I know of several we could pursue) and they had wise fiscal management. Now that we have a city manager who actually cares about the citizens and doing things right and a finance director who shares those same attributes; we have all the tools available to see a drastic lowering in property taxes. Why not make Mineral Wells famous for being a town with little to no property tax (and no reduction in services) while at the same time being a city that has the ability to pay most of the homes’ electricity. If we sought the good of the local citizen here like that then I know that people would move here.

On the flip side of that, has anyone ever been to a tourist town? Remember that has been our vision for the city to become the tourist destination? My question is, would you want to move to or live in a tourist town? Or would want to live in town that prioritizes and values the locals over the tourist that come here. Our town has more character and natural beauty in topography than most towns can even dream of and yet folks go elsewhere instead of here. I believe that we can become the place that everyone wants to move to by working to eliminate taxes, fix our infrastructure and try to cover our local citizens electricity. The bottom line is that if we focus on those that don’t live here we will lose those that do. But if we prioritize our attention to those that live here then it will naturally attract more to come here.”

Ward 3 Race

Incumbent Councilperson Beth Watson

Incumbent Ward 3 Councilperson Beth Watson

Response to #1: “We have absolutely heard the citizens’ pleas to have the roads fixed. While the 2017 bond program was a good start, it addressed just a fraction of our 100+ miles of roads and the utilities underneath them.

We are in the process of acquiring equipment that will allow us to pave and maintain our own streets (which saves time and money by doing them in house, rather than bidding it out).

The council is also very well educated on the needs of our water system. They go beyond just building a new reservoir (Turkey Peak) and include maintaining our treatment and sewer plants and pipes that deliver fresh water.

For all roads and utilities needs, we are exploring partnerships with entities like the Palo Pinto Municipal Water District and Palo Pinto County. These overlapping entities have a vested interest in the success of Mineral Wells.”

Response to #2: “I subscribe to the basic idea housed in Ronald Reagan’s quote about the best social program being a JOB. There are currently hundreds of open positions in Mineral Wells, including government and corporate jobs with benefits requiring only a high school diploma, as well as numerous other positions.

It is our job as a council to make our community as appealing as possible to both residents and potential investors and major employers. We are working hard at doing just that through improvements to parks and other issues related to appearance and quality of life.

We have done several economic development incentive agreements with businesses that will bring a range of opportunities to Mineral Wells. These include Associated Fiberglass Enterprises, The Wells subdivision, Crazy Water Plaza, and the Baker Hotel. It’s our job to make sure these provide good value for our taxpayers’ dollars and increase opportunities and quality of life.

Additionally, we have entered into an agreement to incentivize business development at the airport.”

Response to #3:First of all, we have broken ground on the first major subdivision in Mineral Wells in many decades. The Wells project was featured in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as a more affordable housing option for homebuyers. Obviously, we have to have housing to attract new residents. The city provided an incentive package to this project because we will benefit greatly from the influx of new residents, who will ultimately share in the burden of supporting our city services through their tax dollars. They will shop at local stores and eat at local restaurants. Their children will attend local schools.

In terms of protecting our small town feel, obviously we are limited by our geographical boundaries. However, within those limits we must plan for growth. Our City’s comprehensive plan process, which will begin this year, will look at issues like zoning, land use, and transportation needs to help ensure that we grow in an intelligent way. We are also undertaking a parks and green space planning process that will identify needs in that area. Personally, I would like us to have more parks you can walk to from residential areas.

Councilperson Ward 3 Opponent David Guye

No Photo for David Guye

Response #1: “Our cities infrastructure is a very big concern and should have been addressed and at least some effort made in repairing and improving long ago. Currently some street repairs are being done and over the past several months some of the water and sewer lines have been replaced. But there are many more areas still in desperate need of repairs.

We have increased tax revenue that is coming into the city coffers with the recent upswing in the housing market that we have experienced these past few years. Many people from other areas in Texas and other states are moving here buying and building homes that have increased home values and also increased our property taxes. This additional tax revenue as well as state and federal grants that are available can help in the repair of our infrastructure without another increase in our already high property taxes.

Another way to increase our cities revenue to pay for repairing infrastructure is to attract more tourism with events and festivals. Many towns nearby have numerous events and festivals that bring in millions of dollars to the cities funds annually. Mineral Wells has a very rich history and numerous attractions that we need to capitalize on and bring in the tourism money to fund repairs as well as other improvements for our city.

Another way we can increase revenue is to attract more small and large businesses, in town as well as industry at Ft. Wolters Industrial Park. And additionally we need more oversight and accountability along with better guidelines and requirements in selecting our contractors.

Response #2: “Our city needs to be more business friendly, for both small and large, making it easier for mom and pop stores and new businesses to open and operate in our beautiful city. We need to work harder to attract more industry and factories to Ft Wolters industrial park. This will create more jobs with better wages and more opportunity for the citizens to increase their standard of living. And again all this increases the revenue for the city to use to improve our infrastructure as well as other projects to make our unique city better and more beautiful.

Many of the citizens I’ve talked with while campaigning feel they are not being heard or represented by their current city government. They are all proud of this city and love it and are anxious for it to come back to greatness again and they want to be a part of it and are willing to do their part to help if given the chance. We are all in this together and should share the good as we know everyone struggled through the bad.”

Response to #3 “We can still attract new residents while still keeping our small town charm by careful planning and zoning. Downtown Mineral Wells is very unique and picturesque making it a wonderful place to visit and live. We have a rich and interesting history which we must retain and capitalize on. We have many attractions of lakes, museums, parks and gardens as well as a unique landscape. We have room to grow but MUST be careful and use common sense planning and zoning allowing growth without ruining or infringing on our historical small town atmosphere. No offense but lets not Weatherford our Mineral Wells.

In closing I’d just like to say that I am not a politician but am a concerned citizen that feels very passionate about our beautiful historical town. Mineral Wells has so much to offer and with the right leadership in our city government working together with the citizens we can turn this town into the best small town to live and work in all of Texas. Lets make Mineral Wells better for all of us now and for future generations.
Please, get out and VOTE May 7th.
Thank you, David Guye

Early voting begins on April 25 at the Palo Pinto County Annex building in Mineral Wells or at the Palo Pinto Methodist Church. The general election is Saturday May 7.

Editors Note #1: Candidate Perricone submitted a very lengthy document and it’s entirety can be read by clicking the following link. His answers to the three questions were included in this article.

Christopher Perricone Complete Document

Editors’s Note #2: Ward 1 Candidate Incumbent Jerrel Tomlin is running unopposed and didn’t receive the questions. At your request, we have sent them and will share those responses as we get them.

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