By Justin Cox

Killeen Daily Herald

Most, if not all, of the 12 candidates running for the four contested Killeen City Council seats are expected to take part in the Killeen Branch NAACP's political forum, which starts at 7 p.m. tonight at the Killeen Community Center.

The event is free, and this is an opportunity for the public to meet those running in their respective districts.

District 3, the lone open seat, was expected to be the most hotly contested race of the election, and it has certainly not disappointed so far.

Candidate Harold Butchart has called out rival JoAnn Purser by name for her interests as a developer and claimed that her private agenda conflicts with what is best for the city.

Butchart's most well-known feud is with American Legion Post 223, which has filed a lawsuit against him for trespass and defacement of private property after Butchart installed four speed bumps on the road leading into the post.

The two remaining candidates in the district, Bernardine Martin and John Doranski, have spoken out strongly against Purser's stance on high-density housing.

"When you reduce space, you increase the crime rate," said Martin. "I prefer lower density. That is going to maintain our market position. Once the developers construct more and more. These are dense subdivisions located close to each other. And that impacts the resale value of the surrounding property.

"The more you pack people in like sardines in a can, the more crime it contributes."

Doranski said the developers' goals have dictated the actions of the city for too long. It seems like the council trusts the developers' assertion that the builders know when they've built enough.

"They're going about it the wrong way," Doranski said of the council. "I am not a builder. I need to stress that. I'm a strong proponent of green space. In my subdivision, we have 350 homes and my kids don't have anywhere to play."

He added that there are more homes in Killeen now than the population can fill, and it's all the fault of the economy.

"There are 2,000 homes on the market right now. We're building them faster than we can sell them," Doranski said. "When you have these crammed neighborhoods, a multitude of things begin to happen over time. The long-term vision is going to be a dredge on the city."

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