COPPERAS COVE — The threat of bad weather couldn’t keep Jackie Zajicek away from a Saturday morning political forum focusing on the four candidates for mayor of Copperas Cove.
“One of the things I want to find out (is) if the new mayor will bring up and try to correct the way they plan to do (Business) 190 at the east end of town,” Zajicek said about a half-hour before the forum was set to begin at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8577 in Copperas Cove.
“I strongly believe that the proposed traffic islands are not going to do what the city manager and the police chief believe their going to do.”
“So I’m looking to see if they’ll put some on-demand (pedestrian crossings and lights) there instead of the islands.”
Zajicek only got a chance to ask his question to two of the four candidates running for mayor. Ron Nelson and Joey Acfalle were able to attend, while candidate Bradi Diaz had a conflict and was not present. Robert O’Dell gave an opening and closing statement in support of Diaz and said she would be attending Monday night’s Chamber of Commerce forum at the Copperas Cove ISD administration building.
Moderator Tom DuChateau said candidate Brandi Weiland did not return an invitation to attend the forum.
About two dozen people decided to ignore Saturday’s thunderstorms to attend the event. The relatively small crowd gave most people a chance to talk to Nelson and Acfalle one-on-one several times during the event.
During the more formal question-and-answer session, both candidates were asked their opinions on issues ranging from the creation of a city historical society, to bringing a grocery store to the west side of the city, to what they hope to bring to the city if they become mayor.
Acfalle said there was a need to bring more activities to the city to engage younger people, giving examples such as a bowling alley, a skating rink or a community center. He would also like to attract more business to the area both to increase the number of things to do and to expand the city’s tax base.
Nelson acknowledged he was a relative newcomer to Copperas Cove, living in the city for four years. But he said he’s studied the history of the town and is working to understand everyone’s perspective by talking to residents. He said his hope as mayor would be to give Copperas Cove a reputation as a cool place to live because of what’s going on in the community.
Central Texas College student Cayla Siddiqui asked both candidates what they could to reestablish trust in the community in light of what she felt was an unpopular decision to bring in Fathom as the city’s third-party utility supplier.
Acfalle said complaints about Fathom are still being evaluated and said the question of whether the company would continue as city contractor was still up in the air. Nelson addressed the issue of trust by saying that Copperas Cove needs good leaders, adding that he knows as a relative newcomer he needs to prove himself to voters.
Both candidates want more transparency in city government, want to encourage more interaction and positive relations with Fort Hood and hope to find ways to bring together more citizens to support and promote the community.
As far as the proposed 190 project, both candidates said they would listen to citizen concerns and raise them with the City Council and interim city manager as well as the Texas Department of Transportation.
In their closing statements, both candidates thanked the crowd for coming out and taking part in the forum.
Acfalle said he hopes to be elected to be a voice for the city as it continues to grow.
“It’s time for me as mayor..to make it known that Copperas Cove is here, and we are here to grow, one family, one community at a time,” Acfalle said.
Nelson expressed regret that the crowd was so small.
“We need more members of the community to feel like they can come out and be part and make change, and know that somebody is going to be listening,” Nelson said.
After the forum, Zajicek said he was happy both candidates seem open to his concerns about the 190 project and proposing changes to it before it is put out for bid. He said he still hasn’t made up his mind who he’s voting for on April 27.
“Right now, between the two of them, I see the experience factor in several things with one,” Zajicke said. “The other fella hasn’t been here quite as long, but he’s getting involved in things.
“Right now I’ve got to listen a little bit more before I really have a decision between the two that spoke here today.”
Early voting for the special mayor election will begin Wednesday and continue through April 23.
All voting will be held at the Coryell County Justice Center at 201 S. 1st St.
Polling hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 10, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 22.
On April 11 and 23, polling hours will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Polls will be open on Election Day, April 27, from 7 a.m to 7 p.m.
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