HARKER HEIGHTS — Both candidates running in next month's City Council runoff election say crime, education and veteran homelessness are not major problems in the city.
Pat Christ and Jackeline Soriano Fountain — candidates for the Place 3 seat — took part in a political forum Wednesday to discuss concerns residents had, and why they believed they should be elected to the council.
About 20 residents attended the forum, which was hosted by League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Herencia Council 4297.
Christ and Fountain are headed to a runoff election because neither received more than 50 percent of the vote in the May 6 election, as required by the city charter.
Residents asked questions related to the city’s crime rate, which both candidates said police have kept under control.
Christ rejected notions that the city has a lack of safety.
“I think we do have a safe city,” Christ said. “Most of the crime we hear about in our town is petty crimes. I believe the police department has done a great job curbing violent crimes in our community.”
Fountain agreed, saying, “We have a great police chief who’s done a great job keeping crime out of our community. I feel safe in this community and I fully support the efforts of those involved in our community watch programs.”
Another topic discussed during the forum was the current state of public schools in Harker Heights and how candidates believe schools can improve the quality of education provided for students.
Fountain said she thinks the involvement of parents has and will play a key role in helping achieve a better education for students.
“We have a great PTA program and that has helped continue to keep our student performance ratings high. The involvement of parents in PTA has been essential to that progress,” Fountain said.
Christ agreed with Fountain and said he believes Harker Heights parents are the best in the area.
“We have the best parent involvement for schools in this area,” Christ said.
A question that somewhat surprised both candidates revolved around homeless veterans and how both candidates would go about addressing the issue.
Both Fountain and Christ denied the problem was an issue in the city, but said there are resources available to help struggling veterans if needed.
“We have worked vigorously on veteran homelessness, but at this point that issue has been almost non-existent for our residents,” Christ said.
Fountain said the city’s Veterans Center has been a great resource for the few veterans who do have issues with homelessness.
“We are very fortunate to have a veterans center, this is a big reason we don’t have a homeless veterans issue in Harker Heights,” Fountain said.
Lastly a resident asked whether the two candidates believed council meetings should be televised.
Both candidates expressed an open-door policy for residents to attend the meetings. However, neither felt televising the meetings was a necessary action to take.
“I would not ask to have meetings televised, but I am in full support of people coming to the open forum and speaking publicly to our board meetings,“ Fountain said.
Christ seconded those thoughts, saying, “We (the city) will not televise our meetings; however, our meetings are open and we want anyone to be involved."
The forum ended with both candidates thanking concerned residents for attending and hoping they’ve earned their vote of confidence.
Early voting for the June 3 election runoff begins May 22.