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Councilmen address concerns at forum

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Posted: Saturday, October 15, 2011 12:00 pm

By Sean Wardwell

Killeen Daily Herald

"No regrets" is a message that could be taken from Friday night's NAACP voter forum, as four of the five Killeen City Council members subject to recall answered questions surrounding the buyout of former Killeen City Manager Connie Green's contract.

Councilmen Juan Rivera, Kenny Wells, Larry Cole and Billy Workman appeared at the Killeen Community Center before nearly 30 residents who chose to participate and ask questions.

Mayor Pro Tem Scott Cosper had a prior commitment and was unable to attend Friday's forum.

Most of the questions, as expected, revolved around Green.

Although each councilman defended his decision to vote in favor of or against the buyout, all of them agreed that the city needed to move forward.

"I voted for it, and I made the motion to approve it," said Wells, when asked about Green's $750,000 contract buyout. "(Green) had a contract. We honored that contract."

Cole, however, pointed out that he voted against the buyout and asked for an investigation into Green's activities while city manager and believed he quit his position when he told the council he could no longer serve as city manager.

"Going back, I spoke with (Green) and I told him I can't vote for the buyout, but that was me," said Rivera. "Every city council member had their reasons for voting. I think we did what was right, but I voted in the best interest of the city of Killeen."

Audience members also wanted to know why the members felt they should be allowed to keep their jobs - a question that led Rivera and Cole to wonder why they were put on the recall ballot.

"I voted against it and I still got recalled," said Rivera.

One question asked the members how they felt when they discovered they were subject to a recall election.

"I was delighted," said Workman, adding he was always happy to see people getting involved.

"I was surprised at first, but I've gone through every emotion possible," said Wells.

All council members said they respect the will of the people, however, and said that even in the event of all of them being recalled, public services would continue.

Another resident asked if the council members believed the city charter should be changed to allow for full-time pay for council members and a government that gives more authority to the mayor.

"It's a civic duty. It's a volunteer duty," said Cole. "I don't think you could pay me to quit what I do and be a full-time councilman."

Workman, however, said he thought having full-time council members would increase the council's attentiveness to city business.

"If you have a paid city council with an office and staff, you can advocate for people full-time," said Workman.

In addition to the NAACP, the forum was sponsored by LULAC, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.

Early voting for the Nov. 8 recall election begins Oct. 24.

Contact Sean Wardwell at seanw@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7552.

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