By Kevin M. Smith
Killeen Daily Herald
In the first election of single-member districts, there are two unopposed and two opposed races for Killeen City Council seats.
Before this year, voters chose from candidates in all wards and the top vote-getters won seats.
To better represent the wards – now called districts – and hoping to encourage more candidates to register, the City Council proposed the single-member district elections. In May 2005, Killeen voters approved Proposition 8 to allow single-member districts.
Last year's election featured only at-large candidates, so this will be the first time voters are limited to voting for a single candidate.
One of the two contested races for the Killeen City Council is in District 1, the northeastern part of the city, pitting Kenny Wells against Doris Owens.
Wells, 54, has lived in Killeen his entire life and operates four coin laundries, known as Wells Laundry in Killeen. He is president of the Texas Coin Laundry Association and on the executive board of the national Coin Laundry Association.
Wells said he wants to promote responsible growth for the city and improve the quality of life.
"As a lifelong citizen of the Killeen area, I would like to serve all the citizens in our community. I am a working man, a local business owner and an independent thinker who will work to unify our city government," Wells said.
Owens, 57, is a substitute teacher working on her teacher certification and has lived in Killeen for more than 40 years. She has served on various committees and organizations in the community, including being a Master Mason Daughter third degree.
Owens said she wants to work with the council to continue the city's projects, such as the emergency warning system, Texas A&M University-Central Texas and Fire Station No. 8.
"Working hard with my skills and abilities I believe these objectives can be reached," she said.
The other contested Killeen City Council race is in District 3, the central part of the city, with challenger Harold Butchart running against incumbent Fred Latham.
Butchart, 59, is a retired Army Civil Affairs officer and has served overseas in Djibouti, East Africa, Kuwait and Iraq.
He has lived in Killeen intermittently since he was first stationed at Fort Hood in 1993.
"My goal is to move Killeen in a new direction, toward a more diversified and secure economic future," Butchart said. "I have no other agendas and do not represent real estate or any other special interests that have dominated the council in the past."
Latham, 58, has lived in Killeen all his life and owns a real estate business dealing with commercial and residential real estate as well as property management.
Latham said he wants to complete the capital improvement bond projects residents approved including the new police headquarters, two new fire stations and new senior and family recreational centers.
"I am the only incumbent who has not reached term limits, and I think my experience and longevity would be beneficial when we face the challenges of the future," Latham said.
Juan Rivera, 56, is a self-employed insurance broker who has lived in Killeen for 23 years. He is the sole candidate for District 2, the east-central part of Killeen. Because no one declared a write-in campaign, Rivera will be sworn in after the the May 12 votes are canvassed.
Rivera said he wants to improve public safety and accommodate growth.
"Growth is imminent, but we need to channel this growth so that as we approach the 200,000-resident mark, we continue to enjoy the diversity of our unique community," Rivera said.
Claudia Brown, 66, is a retired elementary school principal with a doctorate, concentration in urban education, who has lived in Killeen nearly two years. In her retirement Brown is a substitute teacher.
She is the only candidate who filed for election in District 4, the western part of Killeen, and like Rivera, Brown will be sworn after the the May 12 votes are canvassed.
Brown said she wants to promote economic development, improve public safety and city services, and improve the city's aesthetic appeal.
"My goals are to serve as the voice of the people and to support legislation that promotes quality of life," Brown said.
Contact Kevin M. Smith at email@example.com or call (254) 501-7550