STEPHENVILLE (April 7, 2018) – This article is part of a series on Stephenville City Council candidates. All interviewees were asked the same questions except questions based on if they had been a city council member before, and the interviews will be presented in Q and A format.
Q: Why are you running for city council?
A: I have a deep desire to serve our community. Our citizens deserve someone who will carry out the duties of council member with integrity, honesty, consistency and stewardship. I’m ready to meet that challenge.
Q: What are the duties of a city council member?
A: The primary duties of a council member include establishing administrative departments, adopting the annual budget and setting the property tax rate, authorizing any issuance of bond ordinance, setting policy and ordinances of how the city operates. Further than that, city council members have the responsibility to citizens to ensure that they are provided with the basic services: water, sewer, streets, police and fire protection. The council is required by law to hold open meetings in accordance with the Texas Open Meetings Act and work with the citizens to keep them informed.
Q: What are your qualifications for this position?
A: I own two successful small businesses that I started from the ground up – Huckabee Inspection Group and a Christmas lighting company. I feel like, with my experience in business, I know how to stretch a dollar to maximize the results. Before that, I worked in the corporate retail world for 12 years, so I understand what defines a successful business model and the necessary cost-cutting, conservative budgeting, employee management and being responsible for people and their families. When I decided to do this, I have been studying and researching and visiting with city officials, stakeholders and citizens throughout the city to prepare me for this role and to understand their thoughts on things. I am a lifelong learner and never feel, as your councilman, that I have all the answers. I think it’s really a position of constant in-depth study and interaction with the citizens. Once again, that is why I am ready to accept that challenge.
Q: How do you view the pay scale for the city council?
A: I think serving on the city council requires a commitment. You are away from your family. It is a big time commitment. That is why I really believe somebody must have a desire to be a servant in a leadership position. Currently, city council pay is set by procedural rules. It’s $200 a month and may be adjusted by majority council vote. The reason some people talk about [increasing pay] is to encourage some people to run, but in my opinion, I think it is distasteful to run to serve in pursuit of monetary reward or any kind of personal recognition. It’s a sacrifice you make for the community that you love.
Q: If elected, what would your number one priority be?
A: Upon my election, it’s time to address the budgeting for streets and sewer issues that are not being adequately funded. We must manage a streamlined budget in a more efficient and cost-effective manner while addressing those infrastructure needs. This will be the biggest challenge to address. Other important things – providing adequate communication and open dialogue – is very important to keep the citizens informed and their input being encouraged on things. I truly think that one of the most important things is communication and letting people understand what is going on and what the issues really are and being completely transparent in everything. It’s the taxpayers’ money, and we owe that to them to make sure every penny is managed and spent properly.
Q: Are you a conservative or a liberal?
A: I am a conservative with an emphasis on being a fiscal conservative. But I think it’s important that we are going to serve all citizens no matter their background or political affiliation. The most important label we have is residents of Stephenville, Texas.
Q: In the last state primary where there was a Republican and Democratic primary, which did you vote in?
A: I voted Republican. City council is a nonpartisan position, and we should represent the wishes of the citizens.
Q: Rank the following levels of government from most to least important: national, state, county and local.
A: I think each level of government is important although making a difference starts at the local level. No matter the level of government, being available to the voters is important. I’m open to others’ opinions and suggestions even when they differ from mine and working together cooperatively to move us forward.
Q: What is your opinion of the recent Texas law change from a conceal and carry license to a license to carry?
A: I support the current law.
Q: What should the City of Stephenville’s relationship to Tarleton State University be?
A: I think the city and the university should have a partnership – a cooperative and open relationship with frequent dialogue. I think most issues can be resolved with proper communication. Tarleton State University has been in a pattern of growth and expansion for many years. As the city’s infrastructure needs continue to increase I think partnering with the university is necessary for both entities.
Q: What is your current career?
A: I own two small businesses – Huckabee Inspection Group and a Christmas lighting company. I started those when I moved back to Stephenville. I’ve always been employed in the private sector, and I really think that helps me have a results-driven philosophy and a sense of accountability to the bottom line.
Q: What is your degree in and where from?
A: I attended Tarleton State University for three years. But, I then took a job before graduating. I have completed over 500 hours of course training and currently hold a license by the Texas Real Estate Commission of Professional Home Inspector.
Q: How long have you lived in Stephenville? Do you own property in Stephenville?
A: If you add it all up, I’ve lived in Stephenville for 24 years. I grew up here and moved away for about 12 years, but I returned home with my family in 2015. I recently just sold some property and am in the process of purchasing my current home.
Q: What is your view on current property taxes?
A: I believe the goal should always be to keep property taxes as low as possible while meeting the demands of our basic infrastructure needs. I think we can meet those demands and keep the property tax rate low by carefully managing a streamlined budget with fiscally conservative expenditures. Staying focused on important issues, like infrastructure projects that impact your daily life and spur economic expansion, is the key to our city’s success. It is almost impossible to do a side-by-side comparison of property tax rate with other cities because of the differences in demographics, infrastructure needs, property tax revenue, business retention and expansion and sales tax leakage to nearby cities. However, I will work with my fellow council members to make sure every penny you pay is used in a transparent and cost-effective manner.
Q: Tell us about your family.
A: I am married to my beautiful wife, Alyssa. We have one daughter, Brinley, who is three and another little girl coming in August. My family has deep roots here. Both sets of my grandparents moved here. My dad’s side built houses and had his own business through the 70s and 80s and still lives here. My grandfather moved here in 1973 to be the head football coach. [Leon Manley] was head football coach and then principal at the high school until 1993 when he retired.
Q: How are you involved in the community?
A: I’m involved in many charity events, I was a contestant in Handsome Hunks, and try my best really to donate time and money back to the community every chance I get. There are so many great organizations, and it seems like there is an event going every week. I’m a big believer in giving back to the community. I’m a member of Lions Club. My business is a member of the Chamber of Commerce. I sit on the City of Stephenville Board of Adjustments. I coach t-ball down at SPARD, and my family attends Timber Ridge Church.