With three weeks still remaining in the candidate filing period, the Killeen municipal election is shaping up to be an interesting one.
In the first two weeks, two candidates filed for the mayor’s spot being vacated by incumbent Dan Corbin, and six people filed for three at-large council seats.
What gives this early election field an interesting twist is that two of the candidates were recalled by voters in November 2011. On top of that, another of the candidates — incumbent Councilman Jonathan Okray — was responsible for the recall initiative that ultimately turned out all five council members on the ballot.
The two mayoral candidates each have a history of service to the city.
Both Scott Cosper and Richard “Dick” Young served three terms on the City Council between 2000 and 2006 and were part of a body that oversaw the opening of the city’s new airport and the establishment of the state veterans cemetery.
Cosper returned to the council in 2008 and was elected as the city’s mayor pro tem, a title he continued to hold after being re-elected in 2010. During his second stint on the council, Cosper was instrumental in the establishment of Texas A&M-Central Texas, as well as expanding and improving the city’s infrastructure.
In March 2011, Cosper was serving on the council that voted to authorize spending $750,000 to buy out the contract of then-City Manager Connie Green. It was a move that didn’t sit well with some residents and served as the impetus for Okray’s recall petition drive.
Also serving on that council was Juan Rivera, who voted against the Green contract buyout, but was recalled nevertheless later that year.
Now Rivera is trying to return to the council as well — running for an at-large council seat, one of which is held by Okray, who is seeking re-election to a second term.
And it could get even more interesting. Among those who have picked up a candidate filing packet is former Councilman Kenny Wells, another of the five council members recalled in November 2011.
As the campaign unfolds, it remains to be seen whether the recall becomes an election issue or if it remains the proverbial elephant in the room.
Moving forward, it would probably be in the best interest of candidates who were recalled to acknowledge they made some errors in judgment, profess their desire to be more responsive to the city’s residents and advocate transparency in matters involving the taxpayers’ money.
Beyond that, it is up to the voters to decide who they want in office — and whether the recall should even be a factor in the election.
Ultimately, the candidates’ experience, their positions on the issues and their commitment to serving the residents’ best interests should be the deciding factors at the ballot box.
Meanwhile, the filing period continues until Feb. 28. It will be interesting to see how the field shapes up over the next few weeks.
Once the ballot is set, it’s incumbent upon the candidates to make themselves available for debates, public forums and in-depth interviews. The Herald will do its part, offering a comprehensive online election package, publishing Q&As and providing video interviews with each candidate.
As the city’s newspaper of record, the Herald will cover public events at which the candidates appear to share their views on the issues.
In addition, the Herald will sponsor a debate featuring the Killeen mayoral and council candidates on April 7 at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.
Granted, it’s still almost three months until the May election, but it appears we’re in for a very interesting ride.