City Council candidates making final push
Tuesday, 15 May 2012 by Keith Bahlmann
During this year's elections, three spots are up for election on the Belton City Council.
The positions are mayor and two seats on the council. Mayor Jim Covington is running once again and is unopposed. The other two positions are incumbents Marion Grayson (Mayor Pro-Tem) and John Agan. Also running for one of the two council seats is candidate Michael Ware.
The position of Mayor was first elected in May 2006 in accordance with the new City Charter adopted in May 2005. The City Council consists of seven members, including the mayor. All positions are "at large," and have a two-year term, including the position of mayor.
Recently, the Belton Journal provided each candidate with a questionnaire, which included questions concerning the future of Belton and their past experiences.
Election day is May 12. For more information about the elections, contact the City Clerk's office at (254) 933-5817.
Grayson has been a member of the Belton community since 1972. Agan has been a member of the community since 1992 and Ware has been a member of the community since 1997.
Below are the continued answers to the questions posed to each candidate.
Why did you decide to run for City Council, or why do you still want to continue to serve on the City Council?
Marion Grayson: I can't say I "wanted" to run for city council in 2004, but at the time I ran I saw our community being torn apart and I didn't like the direction we were heading. I saw way more "positive" aspects of our community than all the negative that was being thrown around, and so I wanted to do my part to turn things around again. I'm happy to say that I've seen that our community be more able to handle varying opinions. Even those opinions we may not necessarily agree with have a basis in wanting to do the right thing. As long as we see the positive, we can come to conclusions that are in the best interest of the entire community. I think that's why I still want to serve.
John Agan: Belton is on a roll right now, and that's why I want to continue to serve on the council. I don't know that the city has ever enjoyed as much success as it has in the past few years, and I believe we have laid the groundwork for even more success in the days ahead. Just in the past six years, I have been fortunate to see Belton achieve many goals and accomplishments. Examples include the opening of HEB-Plus, the Commerce Drive extension, new apartments and subdivisions, including the planned LaCachette's residential development, the re-vitalization of downtown, the retail sector as a whole, the Central Avenue Gateway and Patriot Plaza Flag projects, Avenue D improvements in conjunction with South Belton Middle School, federal grants acquired for the 9th Avenue extension, along with police equipment and weapons, the outstanding new Police and Fire Chiefs hired, additions to our parks in the form of splash pads and trails, and last but not least, CGI's selection of Belton as its newest on-shore facility. It is important to note that these accomplishments were realized with the city remaining sound financially, while operating with an efficient budget and a property tax rate that is lower today than it was six years ago.
Looking ahead, projects that I hope to support and see actually occur in the next two years on the council are the Nolan Creek Recreational Improvement project, planning for a new sewage treatment plant in south Belton, the sidewalk and sewer system improvements in Miller Heights, expanding our city limits as deemed appropriate, enhancing the city's water supply for its citizens, additional street improvements and subdivision development, commercial and retail growth, and continued partnering with BISD and UMHB in their growth plans.
It has been a very rewarding experience to be involved with the other city council members and the city staff as we have worked to put the city in a position to prosper and succeed. I continue to be highly impressed with the way that our City Manager, Sam List, handles his highly-demanding job. The skills and knowledge he exhibits are top-notch. He has assembled a strong and dynamic team which truly cares about Belton and its future. It has been a pleasure to work with all of these talented individuals.
Michael Ware: I decided to run for council because I am ready to serve Belton, the people and their interests on a much wider scale.
I also decided to run for council because of the issues that are dividing people and their trust in our city council. One way to repair this breakdown is through a change in our leadership that enables others to serve the people of Belton.
To represent people equally and objectively, the city council make-up should be changed from time to time to present challenges to the decision and spending process in the best interest of all citizens.
The harmony of council business and the election of city council members should be based on their integrity and honesty, not because they are members of a certain organization, affiliation, club, board or business. Unification in council decisions should come from city council members holding the best interests of all citizens' equally.
What is your overall message to voters?
MG: Please go out and vote! Your one vote can make all the difference. In Belton we are elected by a majority vote, so a candidate can lose by a margin of one vote. If you think that my presence on the Belton City council will represent your ideals for our community, than I would love to be your representative on the council.
JA: My overall message to voters is this: I have four guiding principles that I base my city council decisions on. They are: 1) Determine what is best for the city and its citizens as a whole, 2) consider the long-term impact (25 – 50 years from now) of those decisions, 3) ensure that the city's sound financial condition is maintained, and 4) don't micro-manage. The city councilmember's job, I believe, is to set and guide policy, planning and strategy, and then hold the city manager responsible for carrying that out, with the assistance of the city staff. For all practical purposes, Belton has the pieces in place to differentiate itself from other communities in Central Texas, and I want it to continue to be built and enhanced while I serve another term.
MW: Voters need to know that the issues that concern them and the actions of the current city council lay within the peoples' grasp to change. This is the peoples' city and they are the boss. Needed changes in leadership can only be made through voting.
If elected, know that my job may be with some obstacles as a new council member. However, I commit to work with council and citizens for the betterment of Belton. I will always have an open door to hear their concerns and show action.
I hope that my election will encourage others to step up and dedicate their service to Belton. It is a privilege to serve and citizens should always participate in their government to make a difference.
I can guarantee voters that they will never see me remove myself from participation in a council meeting due to potential prejudice; partiality or business dealing that poses a conflict of interest. I have no attachment to any special interests. My core values are trust, honesty, integrity, and providing quality work. I believe families are Belton's most important assets. My career and volunteerism in the community create a venue that enables me to be more attentive to concerns and needs of citizens. If elected, I plan to continue as an active member of the community.