HARKER HEIGHTS — With several municipal elections just weeks away, more than 50 people got the opportunity to face candidates in two races Friday.

A political forum sponsored by the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce was held at the Central Texas Home Builders Association, where candidates for Harker Heights City Council and the Central Texas College board of trustees discussed topics such as qualifications and taxes.

Running for the open Place 1 seat on the City Council are Jeffrey Harris and Jennifer McCann.

Candidates for the Central Texas College board for Place 2 are Charles Hollinger and Samuel Thorpe, and Place 3 incumbent Joe Burns and challenger James Pierce Jr.

Hollinger was not at Friday’s forum as he was out of the country, according to former CTC chancellor Jim Anderson, who moderated the board of trustees portion of the forum.

Harker Heights City Council candidates

The winner of the Place 1 seat will succeed Hal Schiffman, who is term limited and ineligible to run again this year.

Moderator Luke Potts opened the council portion of the forum with each candidate introducing themselves with their experience that qualify them to sit on the council.

McCann, a native of Harker Heights, said her qualifications include 15 years of civil service with positions on several city boards including Parks and Recreation and the Public Service Commission.

“I love Harker Heights … I love this town. My husband and I decided to keep our kids here before we even had kids. I would love to be part of the growth … and I would do everything in my power and work as hard as possible to know that I didn’t let you down,” she said to the audience.

A combat veteran with 22 years of service, Harris highlighted his skills set from experience with the Army and Department of Homeland Security as his qualifications.

“I’ve handled budgets within the range of $100 million … I am a critical thinker and I am prepared to do what I need to do,” Harris said.

Central Texas College Board of Trustees

One topic the three candidates had a similar response was whether they were in favor of raising tuition and/or taxes to recruit and retain qualified faculty and staff.

Burns, who also serves as Copperas Cove Independent School District superintendent, said research of other avenues of revenue should be sought before the idea of raising taxes or tuition.

Pierce, an Army combat veteran, said he is not for raising taxes nor tuition.

“I am totally against raising taxes unless it is necessary. I know you guys want specifics and I cannot give that until I look into the budget. We can’t just arbitrate and keep raising our budget five, six, seven percent every year. We have to keep it manageable,” he said.

United States Marine veteran Thorpe said that very question is what sparked his interest to be part of the board.

“There are other ways we can go about funding our programs … I think everything needs to be upfront. If you are going to pass the budget, we can see for what it is,” Thorpe said.

On Monday, the Killeen Independent School board candidates will have a chance to speak to voters at the Harker Heights Activity Center from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The seven candidates will take part in a Q&A hosted by a moderator and if time allows take questions from the audience.

In Place 1, Lan Carter is challenging incumbent Shelley Wells. In Place 2, David Michael Jones is facing off against incumbent Susan Jones. In Place 3, incumbent Corbett Lawler faces challengers Stanley Goloboff and Robert People.

Early voting in the elections begins April 22 and concludes April 30.

Election day is May 4.

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