By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
All 16 at-large Killeen City Council candidates addressed why they are running at a public forum Friday night, with the majority advocating for a more open government.
"We need to be better and more transparent," said Abe Amir, giving one of the reasons he is running. He also spoke about future growth, security and health care.
Being honest, having integrity and being transparent are the reasons Nathan Small is running for a position on the council.
Running a fair and open government also is the reason Dan Kott said he hopes to fill one of the three at-large seats up for election May 12.
John Doranski said as an elected official he will not participate in online forums where people can hide behind a pseudonym. He wants to be open and public about his opinions of city business.
Jonathan Okray expressed similar sentiment, saying that if elected he would be about having principles and being objective.
The other 12 candidates, however, talked about a variety of issues during the forum sponsored by the NAACP's Killeen Branch, the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Delta Sigma Theta and Alpha Kappa Alpha sororities.
Elizabeth Blackstone said she would study the issues and make informed decisions that are best for the city.
"I ask for your vote because I care about this city," said Blackstone.
For Jim Butler, running is about continuing to improve the city.
"I have no other obligation than to the city of Killeen," said Butler, adding, "We need to take care of our biggest asset, Fort Hood."
Ralph Cossey Jr. wants to make the city a more energetic place, he said.
"I am going to make you excited about this election," said Cossey. "I want to make sure that we (Killeen) will do what it takes to make (the city) exciting again."
Grocery stores and trash were concerns of JoAnn Demonbreun. She said she is running for the council seat after 15 years of sitting on the sidelines.
Killeen's identity was a key talking point for Jared Foster.
"What is Killeen? Do we have a social image?" Foster asked before answering. "I think that it is mostly negative."
Foster wants to change that image and wants the city to start following its comprehensive development plan.
Mike Gamel focused his discussion on hiring a city manger and spending city taxes in different places.
"We need a city manager and work at getting a pretty good one," said Gamel, noting it's been more than a year since Connie Green was fired.
Activities for youth and ordinances to promote smart and desired growth are what Benton Goodnight said made him run for office. He mentioned the city can't force development to come to the city, but should foster it.
"I see the city council as a facilitator, the city as a facilitator," said Goodnight.
Steve Harris said the job would be a learning experience, but one he would have no problem doing.
"I am running because I believe I can do the job," said Harris.
Mark Manning seeks a return to the council after serving from 1980-82 and 1990-96. "I offer myself as up as the experienced council member," he said. "I like to be the surprise vote."
Doris Mims-Owens wants to bring new ideas to the city.
"I will bring to the table ideas of economic development," she said. "I will bring ideas for the citizens."
Milton Powell Sr. said he will help the city focus on the future and put the past to rest.
Contact Mason W. Canales at email@example.com or (254) 501-7474. Follow him on Twitter at KDHCoveEditor.