KILLEEN — Two Harker Heights City Council candidates contesting Place 1 discussed their backgrounds and city issues at a Monday political forum sponsored by the Exchange Club of Killeen. The third candidate vying for the open slot, Donald Sandlin, did not attend.
Candidate Stuart McLennan opened the forum by pointing to his seven years of experience on the Planning and Zoning Commission, one year serving on the city infrastructure committee and his familiarity with local government code.
McLennan, a 12-year Heights resident, challenged the other candidates’ experience.
“None of the other candidates can match (my) record of relevant experience,” McLennan said. “Military careers leading soldiers, business careers managing malls, and involvement in the community are commendable, but equating them to city governance is a stretch.”
Schiffman, who managed shopping malls, including Killeen Mall, for 33 years, didn’t immediately respond, but replied by phone after the forum.
“I regret that Mr. McLennan has to elevate his limited experience by disparaging my extensive business credentials and experience derived over a long and successful business career,” Schiffman said.
At the forum, Schiffman, a 20-year Heights resident, said his professional experience is well-suited for council service, and noted that working in business gears one’s mind toward producing consistent results. Managing change is the biggest challenge facing government leaders, Schiffman said. “I will be your representative for that change.”
And Harker Heights faces the prospect of extensive change in coming years.
As development sprawls outward, McLennan said he expects the city’s population to increase by about 22,000 people in the next 35 years. He said council members will need to collaborate with other cities to ensure water access through a solid, regionally integrated infrastructure.
Schiffman projected the build-out to occur between 2028 and 2033. The main build-out-related issue is a shrinking amount of developable land, he said. This calls for a specific and focused approach for master planning initiatives that should mesh the interests of businesses and residents.
“If the quality of our infrastructure is not already in place at that time, then we can look to not having an economically sustainable community for years to come,” Schiffman said.
Provided by the city, campaign finance reports give a different picture of the race, and show disparities between money raised by the three candidates.
Between Jan. 30 and mid-April, Sandlin raised and spent no money on his campaign, McLennan raised $610 and spent $488.68, and Schiffman raised $4,592.12 and spent $1,935.45. With McLennan’s contributions, 8.2 percent were for $50 or less, while 12.4 percent of Schiffman’s fell in the same category. Final campaign finance reports are due today.
Two places, Place 1 and Place 3, are on the May 11 ballot, though only Place 1 is contested. Mayor Pro Tem Pat Christ is running unopposed for Place 3. The city charter requires Place 1 Councilman John Reider, who has served two terms, to sit out a term before seeking re-election.
Early voting started Monday and ends Tuesday. Early votes can be cast from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Monday, and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 305 Miller’s Crossing.
On Election Day, May 11, voters can cast ballots at the Harker Heights Recreation Center, 307 Miller’s Crossing.
To learn more about the candidates, go to kdnews.com/news/politics.