Mayoral candidates address questions of equal representation at candidate forum
Candidates hoping to replace Anthony Williams as Abilene’s next mayor spoke on taxpayer concerns at Tuesday’s mayoral candidate forum.
The Abilene Hispanic Leadership Council and the Taylor County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People hosted the forum at Abilene’s downtown public library. As two organizations with the purpose of supporting minorities in Abilene led the forum, the moderator asked candidates their opinions on the diversity in civic participation, such as boards and commissions, and what they think the criteria should be for appointing city leaders.
Weldon Hurt, current place four councilmen, says while diversity is important in city leadership, finding people who will get the job done should be the priority, “The main thing is we need a qualified and skilled person for those boards. Yes, we need the diversity, but we also need to make sure that they’re qualified so what we need to do is reach out to community leaders who are involved and get suggestions from them and encourage more people to be on these boards and serve.”
Meanwhile, Ryan Goodwin, local realtor, and pastor, says he believes his personal background of growing up in an ethnically diverse family has made treating all people with equality something he cares about, “I believe that I can stand up and I can say, ‘Hey listen, we need to be fair across the board.’ I believe when it comes to these boards we need to be looking at people that have an aspect that treats everybody equally, regardless of your race.”
And small business owner Dayakar Dasi Reddy says he is saddened to see what he feels like are consistently the same people on city boards and commissions. He says he believes more people from all over Abilene should be utilized in city leadership, “We have so many good citizens in Abilene why can’t we use some professors, you know retired people, we could use that experience. But these people, they don’t know it. And it’s very sad to see that.”
During the forum, the candidates also had the opportunity to address topics including the street maintenance fee, priorities in finding a new police chief, the role of the DCOA in small business development, and the balance between city leadership and parental responsibility in protecting children.
Write-in candidate Chad Clark was the only mayoral candidate not present at the forum.