Crime and city finances were the topics of the night as the Killeen Daily Herald kicked off the May 5 election political season Monday with the Killeen Candidate Forum.

In front of more than 250 residents, the 12 candidates vying for three council seats highlighted their reasons for running and the issues that matter to Killeen residents — particularly crime prevention and public safety.

The council candidates are:

  • Incumbent Gregory Johnson, 35, a businessman.
  • Incumbent Juan Rivera, 67, a businessman.
  • Patsy Bracey, 72, a registered nurse.
  • Mellisa Brown, 36, a caretaker and student.
  • Bruce Bynum, 50, a family consultant and substitute teacher.
  • Den’Mica Eugene, 42, a salon manager.
  • Leo Gukeisen, 52, a security company manager.
  • Tolly James Jr., 49, an HVAC contractor.
  • Hugh “Butch” Menking, 57, a financial adviser and former Killeen school board member.
  • Brockley Moore, 50, a former councilman.
  • Placidio J. Rivera, 53, a retiree.
  • Kenny Wells, 65, owner of Wells Laundry and a former councilman.

The candidates discussed their stances on staying apprised of the city’s financial matters, creating sustainable and high-paying jobs, and crime, with all the candidates supporting increased appropriations and putting more cops on the street.

The candidates were split over the role of managing and monitoring the city’s finances, with some — like Moore and Rivera — saying the council’s responsibility was not to “micromanage” the city’s funds.

Almost all the candidates heaped praise on City Manager Ron Olson, a 37-year veteran of city administration, but argued for more council oversight of the city’s finances down to line-item appropriations.

In 2016, former interim City Manager Ann Farris presented the council with an $8 million projected shortfall in the 2017 budget, surprising the public and members of the council.

After a cutting spree, the council balanced the budget and then passed a balanced budget in September 2017.

On job creation, the candidates were also split on the city’s reliance on Fort Hood, with candidates such as Brown, James and Johnson calling for a close look at the city’s funding of the Killeen Economic Development Corporation and Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce.

The city sends roughly $800,000 each year to those two organizations, which are tasked with attracting and retaining businesses in the city.

Other candidates such as Wells and Placidio Rivera highlighted the city’s “mom-and-pop” business environment, saying the city needed to do more to invest in small-business ownership.

Killeen mayor

The five candidates for mayor followed the council candidates Monday, highlighting the office’s roles as the “face” of the city and the presiding officer of the council.

The candidates also discussed the mayor’s role in being informed on the city’s financial state and fostering consensus among council members.

The candidates include:

  • Mayor Jose Segarra, 53, a Realtor;
  • Hal Butchart, 70, local businessman and retired Army lieutenant colonel
  • Arturo Cortez, 65, a retiree
  • Jimmy Parker, 48, a local automotive technician
  • Holly Teel, 47, a dog trainer

The candidates’ largest divide was on the council’s recent contested 4-3 votes at meetings and some heated debates among council members — sometimes breaching protocol.

Segarra, who has overseen the council during its recent hot spell, said there is no issue with a 4-3 vote and that it represented a strong spirit of debate.

The other candidates said a clear divide between two camps on the council and a run of bickering at meetings presented the city in a bad light and a stronger consensus should be sought on measures of importance to the city.

For more articles and information leading up to the May 5 election, go to

Early voting for the May 5 election opens April 23 and ends May 1. | 254-501-7567

(5) comments


This is the personal opinion of this writer.
@THUGNIFICENT YOU KILLED ME: Sorry for the misspell, KESD, instead of KISD'. In answer to you query, 'an audit trail would not be sufficient to expel any thought of wrong doing'. The mere fact that our illustrious mayor, Segarra, councilman Rivera, and councilwoman Debbie Nash King are party to being on the board of the KEDC and the KEDC gets paid hundreds of thousands of dollars 'to secure for this city businesses', and the fact that the KEDC does in fact get rental payments from land that does not belong to the city but is Privately owned, and the fact that the KEDC is a non consenting arm of the city council by having the opportunity to secure contracts in the city's behalf without first having to go through the city council, but instead can and does operate outside of the reaches of this charter and this city council. With this in mind, I am at a loss to understand how the city council of the year 1990 could even consider such an opportunistic move as this. To state that with this partnership established, how do you think that is on the city administration, including the city council and the office of the mayor is going to contest it???? Apparently even the city manager and our legal arm is not going to contest such a move.
I will agree that there is nothing in this charter that specifically limits the operation of the KEDC and in partnership with the city council, but what about the framework of collusion within the city administration, the city council, and the office of the mayor, two out of the 3 holds positions within the board of directors of the KEDC and I am of the opinion there should be a total separation between these two entities. One cannot scratch the back if there is no involvement between the parties.
Yo ask, 'who else can offer such services'???? Well it comes to mind that the Chamber of Commerce is one such group that I believe is well suited to serve in this capacity of 'promoting this town'.
If the KEDC was a separate entity, having ownership of property within the borders of the city of Killeen, and paid taxes to the city of Killeen, that would be one thing, but to have a third of this city administration, namely 2 of the council people and the mayor, has a free reign on any and all contractual agreements 'in the name of this city', get a free stipend in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars, that in turn collects rents and royalty's from property that this corporation owns, and in turn of said agreement agrees to the withholding of city money and does not even grace this city council to the fact that 'this is what they are planning to do' even after it has been said that if for no other reason than that of common courtesy bring it up before in open session to this city council body, then I say, 'this should not be allowed to continue', they should not be in the position of blindsiding the remainder of the city council. This has not been done to date even after I suggested to the city manager that 'this be done'. I can only suggest but one that I thought would be a good idea and help remove the 'lack of transparency' of the city council.
There is a veil of secrecy that transcends this city council, this entire city administration itself and until this city is operated in a transparent mode of operation, it will continue to operate as a city within a city with a wall separating the two and will continue to flounder.
I believe the same holds true for the KISD which is also floundering wanting a bond of $426 million dollars and this last city council authorization that will utilize a crossing over of two departmental entities, that being the Parks & Recreation Department and the Transportation Department in an effort to support the KISD and it's desire to have the supporting roadways and bridge in support of the acquiring of the new high school. Nothing personal, just dollars and cents here.
This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.58 % who voted.


This is the personal opinion of this writer.
@TexaSolder and @THUGNIFICENT KILLED ME: I am in agreement with all of the solicitations that you have presented here. I do not know if it was presented here tonight but I would ask the question, 'Do you in any way have any contact or dealings with this city administration or this city KESD'???? I feel it is imperative that this city council be maintained with a complete separation from these entities along with the city mayors office. No city administration or city employee should hold, of any kind, an office or be employed by these entities.
This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.58 % who voted.


@Alvin: 'Do you in any way have any contact or dealings with this city administration or this city KESD'????

I have had occasional contact over the years with people from both entities.
I agree, any official contact between people from either entity should be "on the record and with an audit trail" to ensure not ethics or laws are breached. That said, @Alvin, there is nothing in the city charter that would specifically limit such dealings or contacts. The problem is the existence of the KEDC and its ability to contract on behalf of the city. That is something that city residents should take before the courts. I don't think the mere existence of KEDC is illegal, its what the city of KILLzone has allowed KEDC to do on behalf of KILLzone that appears to be illegal.


It is now up to the voters. I pray all who vote do so with wisdom.


In my opinion, Mellisa Brown and Tolly James were the most impressive last night for different reasons. Mrs Brown was just impressive with her ability to articulate specific things that need to happen. I also liked Mr James constantly tying fiscal responsibility to almost every question while coming across as genuine.
Of the old guard, Juan Rivera (what little I could understand from him with his very strong spanish accent), Kenny Wells and Brockley Moore spent most if their time justifying what the city council has done. Mr Moore went so far as to imply that it isnt the city councils job to attract jobs saying that KEDC is hired to do that. Former city council member, Mr Wells, just doesn’t come across as genuine to me and my instincts tell me he will just fall right back into the good old boys system. With regards to incumbent Gregory Johnson, he made a good impression as usual and separated himself from Rivera, Wells, and Moore. And, I think we have seen this split on the city council recently and it carried over to this forum.

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