• October 23, 2014

Four candidates running for two Belton council seats

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Posted: Sunday, April 13, 2014 4:30 am

BELTON — Four candidates are vying for two open Belton City Council seats in the May 10 election. Here is a look at each candidate:

Bruce Burleson

Burleson, 62, said the council has been doing a good job developing infrastructure as Belton has grown, and the city needs to stay on track with its master plan. Even though the population is expanding, necessitating more streets, houses and businesses, he doesn’t want the city to lose its small-town feel.

“With Interstate 35 and (U.S.) Highway 190 nearby, we’re going to continue to grow. We need to be ready with the appropriate ordinances without losing the character of our community,” he said.

A primary concern he has is the city’s water supply.

“We need good contracts for our water,” he said. “We’re getting drier, not wetter, and the lakes are not at capacity.”

Because Burleson has lived in Belton for 15 years, he said, he has known the council members with whom he will work. He said he will have a good working relationship with the council.

Burleson has served on Belton’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

“I have prior experience in city government, and I’m looking to serve,” he said. “Belton is a great place to live.”

Guy O’Banion

O’Banion, 44, said Belton should grow carefully and smartly. “We should make decisions not just for now, but for 20 years from now,” he said.

He said he is not necessarily in favor of tax incentives, which offer lower taxes to businesses that settle in Belton, but he is not dead-set against them, describing incentives as “sometimes a useful tool.”

Belton is not a heavy industrial-type of city, he said, but as it grows, the city will have to attract the right companies.

O’Banion said he doesn’t believe there are any controversial issues on the table right now; he is simply passionate about Belton’s growth and he wants to be sure it is carefully managed.

“I’m not going into this with an ax to grind, I just want to be involved with the development of the community,” O’Banion said.

He has been on the Planning and Zoning Commission for several years and is branch manager of United Rentals, which rents construction equipment.

He compared handling city spending to handling the budget of his store: “With growth comes a little pain, but we try spend money where we get the most bang for our buck.”

Paul Sanderford

Sanderford, 52, said Belton must be proactive as it develops streets, water, sewage and other infrastructure.

“The fire, police and other foundational elements need to continuously be assessed, and the city needs to stay ahead of the curve,” he said.

As a former Belton school board member, Sanderford said he plans to use the same strategy of planning ahead on the council that he used on the school board.

“The school was growing, and we purchased property. Now, that property we bought years ago is being used to build a new school,” he said.

Sanderford said the council has done well planning for its expanding community.

“I don’t see any glaring problems,” he said.

He said the city should keep children and grandchildren in mind, balancing parks, recreations, residential and commercial development.

One immediate problem Sanderford said should be addressed is the burgeoning traffic. The city should focus on the extension of Loop 121 to relieve the growing congestion.

“I think new businesses are a good idea, but I don’t want to be choked in traffic,” he said.

As for offering lower taxes to encourage businesses to establish themselves in Belton, Sanderford said, “I believe there are so many benefits to living in this community that we don’t need to offer everything in the goody bag.” However, he said he wouldn’t rule out the idea of tax incentives, although he didn’t see a need to attract commercial development to Belton right now.

Sanderford is as an attorney at Sanderford and Caroll P.C. He works in federal procurement law, representing businesses who want to work with the federal government.

Justin Winkler

Winkler, 33, said Belton should not ignore its schools and recreational areas as it develops residential areas, roads and businesses.

“In every council meeting I’ve been to, almost every agenda item has been about growth,” he said.

The city should develop a strategic plan that will not only move the Nolan Creek project forward, but will create more recreational facilities, he said.

“For a town of our size, we need better facilities than what we have,” he said.

Winkler and his wife own several preschools called A+ Academy, and he is earning his doctoral degree in educational leadership at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. With the Belton school district growing, Winkler said, the council needs a member who specializes in education.

“People with Belton ISD are talking about building a second high school, and the council should support them in that process,” he said.

He said the council should make public safety another high priority, saying that the city should focus its resources and funds on making the city “as safe as it can be.”

He said he does not have a problem with giving incoming companies short-term tax incentives.

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