County candidates converge on campus

Dylan Pembroke

Candidates for county commission present their platforms at a forum Feb. 25. Photo by Lauren Roberts.
Candidates for county commission present their platforms at a forum Feb. 25. Photo by Lauren Roberts.

At a free candidate forum Tuesday night in Shawnee Theatre, six candidates for county commissioner had one similar goal in mind: Fixing Wichita Falls’ continued water shortage. Most candidates introduced methods to retain current businesses, encourage economic development and ways to keep Sheppard Air Force Base open.

The forum, hosted by the political science department, was attended by 72 people, including five students, to listen to county commissioner candidates and their ideas.

“I now take political science and I went tonight to learn more about the debate [process],” Leona Sandiford, senior in theater, said. “We discussed how a debate can influence the voters. You need to persuade them to vote for you.”

According to Leon Crabtree, one of the candidates in Pct. 2, the current commissioner is spending the same amount of money to repair 11 miles as it should take to repair 20 miles of road something that Crabtree would like to change.

Crabtree said he hopes to cut out unnecessary spending and utilize existing equipment instead of purchasing new machinery every two or three years. The same things he implimented in his role as foreman in precinct 1.

“I have spent the last five years working in public works,” Crabtree said. “I have successfully reduced the amount of spending by 25 percent in my current role.”

Lee Harvey said the county commissioners have two roles, but specifically need to focus on the budget.

“The duties of the roads and bridges commissioner is to set a balanced budget and effectively utilize equipment.”

Harvey wants to help the community get the “biggest bang for their buck” when it comes to taxes.

As for county commissioner, Harvey said he hopes to encourage business retention and encourage economic prosperity throughout Wichita county.

“I want to bring business to Wichita Falls,” Harvey said. “We need business.”

Sheppard Air Force Base brings in $800 million every year of economic impact into Wichita county, according to Harvey.

“We all have a stake in Sheppard Air Force Base,” Mickey Fincannon said. “Citizens need to fight for the base.”

Sheppard Air Force Base is undergoing review for possible closure and all of the candidates were adimate about the need to keep it open. Harvey said it is important to maintain a relationship with the base no matter who wins.

“Bases with best relationship in the community are the bases that stay open,” Harvey said.

Candidate Jeff Watts plans to incorporate more technology into his department as a goal for his first four years serving.

“I want to continue technological advances in the department,” Watts said. “I want people to be able to eventually submit permits on my website.”

As for Micheal Hagy, he wants the budget to be more transparent. “It shouldn’t be so hard to understand,” Hagy said. “If we take in $42 million, than we should spend $42 million.”

Bill Lockwood wants more fiscal responsibility in the county.

“The government should provide for ourselves when we are unable to,” Lockwood said, pointing out that, for example, anti-smoking programs should not be paid for by the county taxpayers.

Three students, all members of Pi Sigma Alpha, helped host the event, which was moderated by KFDX anchor Gwen Bevel, by keeping time and introducing the candidates.

“It looks good on a resume,” Luzmila Moreno, senior in political science, said.

Students were given the opportunity to expirence a live debate and assist in the process.

“It’s exciting to learn about the candidates,” said Emily Holed, junior in political science.

The forum ultimately gave students and patrons of the community an opportunity to hear the candidate’s views on current issues before the March 4 election.

Complete list of candidates.

Additional reporting by Arron Mercer

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