Candidates competing for office in Killeen and Harker Heights municipal and school board elections faced off Friday at the Killeen Community Center.
The debate was organized by the Killeen Branch of the NAACP and moderated by Raúl Villaronga, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens 4535.
For Killeen City Council candidates, Mayor Pro Tem Michael Lower and Councilman Terry Clark, who are vying for the District 3 seat, it was the first debate of their 2013 campaigns.
The two candidates diverged on the issue of government’s role in Killeen’s future development.
Lower said he was in favor of small government and referred to the comprehensive plan — the city’s long-term urban planning and land use document — as a “living document.”
“Growing the city happens on the citizen level,” Lower said.
“We want to feel confident that the council has a plan and that it knows when to change that plan when change is needed.”
Clark said the role of government is to manage the public trust.
“It’s up to the developers to come to the city and see if what they do fits with the plans for the city,” Clark said.
The forum also was a chance for the public to meet Steve
Harris, who will fill the District 4 Killeen council seat in May since his race is unopposed.
Harris, a teacher and coach in the Killeen Independent School District, has 17 years of experience in education and was raised in Killeen.
District 2 Councilman Jose Segarra, an incumbent, also attended the meeting although his race is not contested.
Harker Heights City Council has one contested race for Place 1, between Stu McLennan, Hal Schiffman and Donald Sandlin.
A 20-year resident of Harker Heights, Schiffman is an independent retirement counselor with more than three decades of experience managing shopping malls, including the Killeen Mall.
McLennan, a military retiree, served as chairman of the Harker Heights Planning and Zoning Commission for several years, and was hired this week as the executive director of support services for the city of Killeen.
Sandlin did not attend the forum, and Harker Heights Mayor Pro Tem Pat Christ, who will run unopposed for Place 3, also was absent.
The Killeen ISD election May 11 has two contested races.
Place 1 incumbent, current school board president Shelley Wells, faces challenger Lan Carter, a Killeen ISD teacher who ran unsuccessfully for the school board last year against JoAnn Purser. Incumbent Susan Jones, a local bank manager, will run for re-election to Place 2 against challenger and local business owner John Gilmore.
Unopposed for Place 3, Corbett Lawler also attended the forum.