Mineola’s mayoral race has officially started. Yesterday, 2-25, incumbent mayor Bo Whitus announced his candidacy for re-election. This morning, Ken Pearce, a local CPA, announced his candidacy to challenge mayor Whitus for his office.
In preparation of the race, we have submitted five questions to all of the mayoral candidates. Below are Ken Pearce’s answers to the questions.
This page will be updated with answers from the other candidate(s) when we receive them. The deadline to declare to run for mayor or city council is Friday, March 1 at 5PM. Anyone interested in running for office should see the city clerk to file their intent to run.
This page will be updated when new information becomes available. Check back regularly.
As of right now, 1 PM, 2-26-13, the following have declared their candidacy to run for office:
Bo Whitus – Current Mayor seeking re-election
Ken Pearce – Current Council member running for Mayor
Mitchell Tuck – Council, Ward 3, seeking re-election
Joe Hamilton – Running for Council, Ward 1
Feel free to leave your comments below or on our Facebook page.
Ken Pearce on Running for Mineola Mayor
1. What experience(s) do you have that you feel makes you the best candidate for mayor?
I have served two terms as City Alderman in Ward 2. This has given me a complete understanding of the workings of the city. I am a Certified Public Accountant, which gives me an understanding of the city’s financial structure more than any other candidate. I serve on the boards of Mineola Development, Inc., (which administers the 4(b) sales tax of the city), and Mineola Civic Center, Inc. I am a two time president of the Rotary Club of Mineola. I have a history of community service here in Mineola.
2. Name a specific change (in policy or a physical change) that you think the city needs to make that is not being done under the current administration.
As a current councilman, it is hard to say that there are things not being done under the current administration, but there may be things that will need to be addressed in the future. One example is that a few years ago the council adopted building codes and hired a building inspector after years of using an outside building inspection service. It may be time for the council to review those codes and make changes to the fee structure and the administration of those codes. There is a balance between the intended safety the codes are meant to provide, and the possibility that those codes actually inhibit construction in the city. We may need to rebalance that to promote growth of the city.
3. What area(s) do you see as Mineola’s best opportunity for growth over the next two years?
We have an opportunity to expand sales tax receipts over the next several years. While this opportunity will not be in the form of a windfall for the city, increased sales tax dollars will be used to renovate aging streets, promote economic development, and improve city services. As we improve the city and incent businesses to open and expand, sales tax and property tax revenue increases, and we continue to improve the city. It is a continuous circle.
4. What do you feel will be our biggest challenges as a city over the next two years?
The biggest challenges are aging infrastructure and regulatory requirements to maintain that infrastructure. We have water pipes that are 80+ years old and streets that filled with potholes. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is requiring that we maintain our water towers and facilities to certain standards, and is also requiring that we fill in old sediment ponds at our water treatment facility. The costs of doing this exceed our ability to collect taxes to pay for it. The bad thingis that we may have to issue debt, much like obtaining a home improvement loan to make huge repairs and renovations to a home. The good thing is that we have current debt that will paid off soon, and it should not cause a financial hardship to the city, and with the potential for increased sales taxes, the city should not have to increase property taxes.
5. In a paragraph or two, outline what you think would be a feasible (and attainable) 5-10 year economic development plan for our town.
There are two main components of economic development here in Mineola. They are tourism and industrial. For tourism, we have to continue to maintain and improve our downtown area and make the area attractive to out of town visitors to shop, eat, and stay overnight. We also do this by promoting the Mineola Nature Preserve on the Sabine River. We have a great support system in place with the Main Street organization, and the Historical Commission. For industrial, we have improved and developed our industrial park on Bromberg Street. We do not have the opportunities for industrial development that Lindale or Mt. Pleasant have because we are not on the interstate highways, but we do have railroad access, Highway 69 has been improved to Lindale, and we have land available for industrial development. Industrial development is a slow process, but in the next 5-10 years, businesses will see the advantages of locating here, and we will do everything possible to incent that.