Two incumbent councilmen are vying for the District 3 seat on the Killeen City Council in the May 11 election.
Terry Clark and Michael Lower answered five questions from the Herald about why they're running for office and what their priorities would be if re-elected.
1. Why are you running for re-election, and what makes you qualified to serve?
CLARK: Killeen is my home. I want it to be the best city it can be, not just for myself, but also for my friends, neighbors and all the residents of Killeen. I bring to the council, my experience as an elected council member, my experience as an educator and the understanding that the task of a council person is to represent their constituents, to always be working to make the city better, and to not be afraid to ask the hard questions.
LOWER: Killeen is my home and I am passionate about the direction we are moving. I want to see the city to continue to manage the growth in a positive way ensuring a quality of life that we can be proud of. My desire is to see the image of Killeen to continue to improve. I want to make sure we continue to be one of the most affordable places to live in the U.S. by providing affordable housing, education, family and leisure lifestyle.
By working with the chamber of commerce, Killeen Economic Development Corporation and Fort Hood, we must also provide adequate job opportunities for everyone. Serving on the Killeen Temple Metropolitan Transportation Policy Board and the Executive committee that provides the planning and financial resources for various transportation projects helps me understand the needs and opportunities for Killeen to build and prepare for future and current growth.
2. What is the biggest challenge facing Killeen, and how will you address it?
CLARK: The growth of Killeen is connected to the sustained force strength of Fort Hood. The city needs to work closely with Fort Hood, the Pentagon and the federal legislative branch and convince them to continue their investment in manpower, training facilities and infrastructure. If Fort Hood continues to grow, the City of Killeen will grow with it. I will address this by continuing to have open dialogue with the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance. The leadership in HOTDA has years of experience with the Army and I trust their ability to advocate for the city of Killeen.
LOWER: Managing continued growth. Killeen is blessed to be a place that more and more people choose to live, and it is our role as a council to provide the infrastructure and personnel to support that growth. We also have to consider the needs of the established areas of the city and ensure that they receive the same priority as new areas. Road projects and water infrastructure are in the forefront right now, but growth also affects all of the services the city provides from police and fire to trash collection and recreation. Council can help guide growth, but we have to work with our city manager and staff to ensure we are providing the resources they need to maintain and improve city services.
3. What can be done to improve quality of life in Killeen?
CLARK: We need to begin to rethink development to include a pedestrian friendly community. I support the continuation of building hike and bike trails that connect recreation centers, parks, schools and neighborhood services such as convenience stores. This will allow families to spend quality time together. We want Killeen to be a vibrant hometown not just for long time residents, but also service members that are stationed here. As the price of fuel rises, I believe, families will begin to put more demand on mass transportation such as the HOP bus routes. As a board member of the Hill Country Transit Authority I will continue to advocate for the creation of more fixed bus routes inside the city of Killeen that meet the needs of the public.
LOWER: Reduce traffic: We have made huge strides in the past few years on road projects that will vastly improve mobility. Both highway and local road projects will create better connectivity, more capacity, and less traffic.
Reduce crime: A safe city is an absolute priority for residents and council. The council has to provide the necessary resources to enable police and fire to protect the public and make Killeen a safe city.
Community pride: It is the responsibility of the council to provide not only a safe but also a beautiful city. We must ensure that the city manager and staff have the guidance from council to provide the tools and resources to have a clean and attractive city with recreational opportunities to provide to the citizens and visitors of Killeen. We also must preserve the partnership with Fort Hood providing the model for military-civilian partnership.
4. What would you make a budget priority?
CLARK: I believe that the city needs to continue to concentrate efforts to maintain infrastructure in the oldest parts of our community. The water, sewer and streets department work hard to maintain and rehabilitate the systems. It is important that the city maintain the required reserves in our general fund, currently the general fund reserve is at 35 percent, 22 percent to 25 percent is the minimum required. It is important that the city use a portion of this fund balance to pay cash for the much-needed fire station on Bunny Trail. It is important the city begin to acquire property near Stagecoach Road and Trimmier Road.
LOWER: Obviously the safety of the citizens must be a priority. I believe that we should continue to provide the citizens with more fire and police while maintaining fiscal responsibility. As Killeen has been very efficient in maintaining its AA rating by managing its debt, we must continue to keep a keen eye on how we provide money for the necessary projects and resources while continuing to maintain a stable tax rate. As we manage long-range financial plans and continually update them we can remain confident in maintaining a healthy cash reserve. As we do this it will ensure that fees and rates to the citizens will remain stable thus giving them more savings and buying power. Also with the current plan for future water use we can rest assured that our future water supply will be available, ensuring fiscal and tangible responsibility.
5. What do you think the role of government should be in development?
CLARK: The city’s role is simple: we provide water, sewer and transportation infrastructure. The city council has recently approved a water sewer master plan that projects project plans 10 years into the future. I believe a priority for the council is to review the current transportation plans and project roadways into the extra-territorial jurisdiction that is area outside of the city limits but will someday be incorporated into the city limits. Killeen is growing as a regional shopping center and it is going to important to have a strong transportation system in place that make driving to Killeen a pleasurable experience. If families drive to Killeen to shop and play then the city’s general fund grows since the sales tax revenue.
LOWER: Growth is happening in Killeen, and as a city council, we have the opportunity to shape that growth through planning. Our comprehensive plan is a long-term view of how we would like the city to grow, so it should be a priority for council to review it regularly. In a city as dynamic as Killeen, we can’t always predict what opportunities will present themselves for development, and they may not always be what we expect or desire. As a body, we have to be open to hearing each case, evaluating its value, analyzing its effects, and determining if it is in the best interest of the citizens of Killeen.