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Let the City Debates Begin

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For the first time since this election cycle began, the candidates for Bryan and College Station's city council seats spoke about the issues Monday.

Notably absent from the College Station debate were Place 3 incumbent Robert Wareing and Place 5 hopeful Justin Whitworth, both saying they had prior engagements. Another Place 5 candidate, Phil Shackleford, no-showed the event, leaving the three remaining candidates to speak on issues of transportation, business, and the performance arts and city centers. All three said a new referendum should be put to residents.

Place 3 candidate Ron Gay told the audience, "Folks, we owe it to the citizens of College Station to go back and say, 'the plans have changed, the price has changed. What do you all think?'"

"We need to know what the citizens of College Station need, want and desire, and what they're willing to pay for it," said Place 5 candidate Marilyn Hooton.

Hooton opponent, Chris Scotti, said, "We could be looking at almost $30 to $40 million for this project, and none of this has been done with the approval of the citizens."

While the four candidates for Bryan's Single Member Districts 3 and 4 agreed for the most part on issues of transportation and relations with the school district, their main focuses varied.

"First, Bryan must address it's aging infrastructure," said Single Member District 3 candidate Jason Bienski. "We all know about the aging sewer and street problems facing the city."

"Normally, you lower utility rates and you lower your taxes to attract businesses, and people want to go where there's a low cost of living," said Bienski's opponent, Dan Flint. "We're forced because of the situation we inherited to do just the opposite."

"I believe our biggest priority is our aging water and waste water system," believe Single Member District 4 candidate Mark Conlee. "Without those two items, the city cannot survive."

"The most important thing to the citizens that I speak with and I've met with is to change the four unrelated adults in the home to two," said Mike Southerland.

Bienski and Conlee are both campaign veterans, while Flint and Southerland are in their first political races.