Editor's note: This is a corrected version of this story. The candidate's answers had been inadvertently swapped in the Election Guide.
Incumbent John Fisher, R-Killeen, will face off against newcomer John Driver, D-Killeen, for the Precinct 4 seat in what could be Fisher’s last term on the Bell County Commissioners’ Court.
Fisher, who has been the commissioner of Precinct 4 for the past 16 years, said he was looking to move off the court after this term if he is elected Nov. 6.
“I just need to get the new county judge in there and up and running, and I’ll turn it over to someone new,” Fisher said, referring to longtime County Judge Jon Burrows, who is not seeking re-election.
Driver, a former Fort Hood garrison sergeant major and Army contractor, beat out Democratic challenger Louie Minor in the March 6 primary for the party nomination with 54 percent of the vote.
The Herald asked the two candidates for the seat for their top issues if they are elected.
Here’s what they had to say.
“The top three issues are Public Safety, Transportation and Economic Development. We must continue to develop communities that create a safe environment for families to live and grow.
“While ensuring first responders have the necessary resources to fulfill their duties. Partnering with the various City Councils, Police Forces and other Community Leaders we can work toward improving the quality of life for the citizens of the county.
“A viable public transportation system for the county is needed. The county has continued to grow since 1990- 2010 by 25 to 34 percent, respectively, and we have seen at least a 27 percent growth since the last Census. It is critical to have a system to move the population around and a road network that can handle the transportation requirement. This will take cooperation and coordination with each surrounding cities, counties and state legislators. I will work with these various agencies to meet that goal.
“Economic development on a larger scale than small entrepreneurs is needed in the western side of the county. Precinct 4 population is well over 45,000 people, and there are no industries in the area to support the population other than eateries, grocery stores and hair/nail shops. Nothing that hires large quantity of people with a livable salary.
“With increased population we must work with the city leadership to take a more thoughtful approach to meeting the challenges and ensuring there are viable jobs in the western side of the county to produce a livable wage.”
“Intergovernmental cooperation: We are in one of the fastest growing regions in the country, and it is increasingly important that we work together with our cities to manage growth and protect quality of life. The ability to move past provincial rivalries and address challenges on a regional basis rests on building relationships with community leaders across the county and in surrounding areas. As a lifelong resident and businessman, and having served for many years in various elected capacities, I have forged strong ties in both the public and private sectors across the county. It is equally important to have strong working relationships with our state officials, both in the Legislature and in key state agencies, like the TCEQ and TxDOT. I have developed important relationships there as well, and building on those relationships, we can keep moving Bell County forward.
“Cost containment: In Texas, county governments are the primary providers for many essential government services and the challenges associated with those mandates have grown in recent years. As the state’s funding commitments have dwindled, local governments have been forced to pick up the slack. Absorbing the added costs of new and expanding mandates has placed ever-increasing strains on the county budget. Holding the line on expenditures is a matter of effective fiscal management. We are currently the most efficient mid-sized county in Texas and that’s an accomplishment of which we can be very proud, and one I will work very hard to maintain.
“Economic development: One of the key ways to hold down taxes is through strong economic growth. Bell County supports economic development in several ways. We participate directly by supporting our cities’ business recruitment efforts through investment in Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones and direct tax incentives. But our broader efforts are indirect, and just as important. By maintaining an environment that is good for business investment, we encourage economic growth. This approach includes efforts to protect, support and improve a wide range of seemingly unrelated elements, including public safety, education, transportation, water resources, Fort Hood and, most importantly, maintaining efficient, low-cost government.”