COPPERAS COVE — Residents had the chance to hear all four mayoral candidates address some concerns at a forum Monday, with the main area of focus being economic growth in Copperas Cove without losing its small-town identity.
Joey Acfalle, Bradi Diaz, Ron Nelson and Brandi Weiland attended the Chamber of Commerce’s question-and-answer forum at the Copperas Cove ISD administration building.
Both Nelson and Weiland agreed that economic growth should focus on a skilled-labor workforce.
“It’s not just about bringing jobs to the town,” said Nelson, “but middle-class wages.”
Weiland noted her diverse educational background before adding, “College isn’t for everybody. College does not equal success.
“Trades — we need to work on skilled manual labor.”
Attendees specifically asked about bringing jobs to the area that did not rely on Fort Hood, but Acfalle and Diaz pointed out the asset of having the nation’s largest military installation just outside the city limits.
“I don’t think we should depend on Fort Hood,” Diaz said. “But we should work with Fort Hood.
“We shouldn’t look at it like a negative; they provide a skill set to our community.”
After 21 years of military service and being assigned to Fort Hood before deciding to root his family in Copperas Cove after he retired in 2013, Acfalle doesn’t view Fort Hood as a negative either.
“We need to use our assets and work with our sister communities,” Acfalle said.
Per the city charter, a special election must be held within 120 days following the death of the mayor. Mayor Frank Seffrood died of cancer Dec. 28 at the age of 79. Seffrood was elected Dec. 11 to his second term as mayor, defeating Azeita Taylor in a runoff election for the post.
Various community members gathered and were given the chance to talk one-on-one with the candidates during a half-hour meet and greet session.
Weiland, who has been noticeably absent at previous forums, explained her absence was due to family obligations.
Among the crowd of more than 50 residents sat members of the Copperas Cove City Council, as well as Interim City Manager Ryan D. Haverlah and CCISD Superintendent Joe Burns.
The forum started with two-minute opening statements from each candidate followed by four questions submitted by Chamber of Commerce members.
Each candidate was given two minutes to answer each question and topics ranged from what each candidate would like the city to look like in the next three years to their favorite place to spend their free time in Cove, as well as why they chose to run for office.
At the end of the 2½-hour forum, each candidate urged citizens to head to the polls in their closing statements.
Early voting for the special mayor election will begin Wednesday and continue through April 23.
All voting will be held at the Coryell County Justice Center at 201 S. First St.
Polling hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 10, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 22.
On April 11 and 23, polling hours will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Polls will be open on Election Day, April 27, from 7 a.m to 7 p.m.