LAMPASAS — In addition to voters deciding if a new jail should be built, the city has two contested seats up for grabs in the May 6 general election. Two people filed for each position.
The Lampasas Independent School District has one contested race that also has two candidates running for the seat.
In the City Council race, incumbent Chris Harrison is squaring off against newcomer Delana Toups for the Place 1 election. Incumbent T.J. Monroe will be facing Kevin Veazey for the Place 6 seat.
In the Place 7 race for the Lampasas school board, incumbent Ryan Shahan will be challenged by Robert Goodart.
The Herald spoke with each of the candidates and asked them how they felt about city issues they may be facing. Here is what they said:
1) What, to you, are the most important issues facing the city of Lampasas?
Monroe: Water is becoming a concern for many Texas communities. City management and council must be proactive in long term solutions that ensure continued quality water supply and to hold rates as low as practical.
Provide for outstanding public safety services.
Maintain existing public works infrastructure in good condition, then upgrade and expand in areas that support natural growth.
Support our existing business community while attracting new businesses that are a good fit for the community.
Ensure parks and recreation facilities are well maintained and fit with community wishes.
Veazey: I feel it is vital we focus on the importance of continual economic growth and maintaining a strong police force and fire department. I believe it is important that we focus on improving and maintaining the quality of the existing infrastructure of our city.
2) With Lampasas having a sizeable military population, how would you further relations with Fort Hood and the U.S. Army?
Monroe: Continue to spread the word so the Fort Hood community is aware of all the benefits Lampasas has to offer, whether it be a place to call home or place to “escape” for the day. Events like the annual “FT Hood Welcome” provide an excellent venue to showcase our community and welcome incoming military personnel.
As a member of the Lampasas Economic Development Corp. we are developing our Business Park on Hwy 183 and recruiting companies that could capitalize on our proximity to FH and the assets and opportunities FH offers.
Our local businesses are able to interact with the Heart of Texas Alliance at FH job for skilled, qualified retirees.
Veazey: I fully support and believe in our military. I personally work with the Director of the USO on Fort Hood in the church I pastor and I believe if Lampasas can partner with the USO it would open a great avenue for us to help promote relations between our city & Fort Hood.
3) As a council member you would be responsible for overseeing taxpayers money the city budget. What in your financial experience will help you oversee and track the expenditures and revenue?
Monroe: I have owned and operated a small business; I fully understand the need for realistic operating budgets and the necessity to adhere to constraints. While working at larger national companies, I made difficult choices to remain within my budget.
I have had input to the city budget for the last seven years. While each city manager had a slightly different process, the end result was the same — transparency for the council and public. We have the best interest of the community in mind with every dollar spent, while making sure the city departments have the tools to do the best job possible for our city.
Veazey: As a senior pastor for over 20 years I have managed budgets both small and large, making sure we are good stewards of the finances. I would expect to do no less with the financial budget of the city. I plan to be a good steward of the taxpayers’ dollars and I want to promote economic growth.
1) What do you think of Lampasas’ “closed campus” policy for student lunches? Do you think Lampasas would benefit from open lunches?
Shahan: I think that the idea behind maintaining a closed campus is centered in student safety and structure. Prior to the construction of the new high school, the campus had been open for lunches where most students could easily walk to a restaurant. Now, all students would have to drive a distance into town creating a large increase in traffic and also a crunch for time. After saying that, there is no doubt that restaurants would benefit from an open campus. However, I don’t think the pros out weigh the cons.
Goodart: This is one of those issues that if it was up to the students they would say we want to be able to go hangout and eat wherever they want. But I feel that the schools offer up a good planned diet that that is most likely better off for our students.
2) Lampasas ISD received an “F” for postsecondary readiness in a preliminary legislative report in January for the previous school year. What are some ways you think the district could improve in postsecondary readiness?
Shahan: First of all, the A-F accountability rating system that has been forced upon Texas schools is fundamentally flawed. I strongly encourage you to research the system and read the negative reviews. On post-secondary readiness, the Completed CTE-Coherent Sequence of Courses was the area in which we received a low mark. This was based in a “misinterpreted” coding practice in our records keeping two years ago. This was identified and the Board began taking steps toward remedying the error. We have also hired a new CTE-director to help us expand our courses which will have a positive impact on our students and our funding.
Goodart: At this point I’m not sure about this opinion I’m going to say that I’m not sure what they look at to come to this conclusion. As a LISD board member if elected I will find out more about this issue.
3) How do you feel about the current state of the TAKS and STAAR testing in Lampasas and Texas as a whole?
Shahan: I feel like most schools, including Lampasas, are doing the best we can with what we have been given. I am disappointed that normal daily instruction has evolved and is centered in preparation for one day of testing. But what else can be expected when our politicians have placed so much importance on those scores, mainly to justify funding levels? My opinion is that true accountability lies between the parents and the schools… unfortunately, I don’t see any changes coming anytime soon.
Goodart: TAKS and STAAR testing I feel is not a good idea for our district and the all the districts in the state. It seems that the Teachers are teaching the children.just to pass these test. It’s not right that you have students that are making A’s and B’s throughout their school career and then they stress or panic over a test and have problems moving to the next grade level. This is why I feel that these test do not help our students. I feel these test should be eliminated.