With the May 11 election approaching, Harker Heights City Council candidates Stuart McLennan and Hal Schiffman shared their experience and platforms during a political forum Monday in Killeen.
The third candidate vying for the Place 1 seat, Donald Sandlin, did not attend the event, sponsored by the Exchange Club of Killeen.
McLennan highlighted his time working on council-appointed boards and commissions, including seven years on the Planning and Zoning Commission, as the major factor that would help him serve on the council. Schiffman compared city governance to his business experience, which includes managing the Killeen Mall.
“A 33-year career managing large shopping malls gives one a unique perspective in balancing the interests of both the customer and the client,” Schiffman said.
“Shopping centers are smaller versions of their communities, yet they replicate the same functions.”
McLennan challenged the other candidates’ level of relevant experience for the council position, saying that it would be a “stretch” to equate other careers to one in city government.
After the forum, Schiffman responded by phone: “I regret that Mr. McLennan has to elevate his limited experience by disparaging my extensive business credentials and experience derived over a long and successful business career.”
The two candidates discussed how they would address major issues facing Heights.
Concerning population growth, McLennan said he will work to ensure a reliable water supply by synchronizing planning efforts with nearby cities such as Killeen, Lampasas and Gatesville. “If we don’t fix water, the rest doesn’t happen,” he said.
Schiffman highlighted the shrinking amount of developable land in Harker Heights in congruence with population growth.
“Within the next 15 years, Harker Heights will essentially be built out to capacity,” Schiffman said.
“If the quality of our infrastructure is not already in place at that time, then we can look to not having an economically sustainable community for generations to come.”
Place 1 is the only contested Harker Heights City Council seat.
Current city councilman for Place 1, John Reider, is not seeking re-election. Mayor Pro Tem Pat Christ filed for re-election to Place 3 and is unopposed.