In College Station, three seats on the city council are up for grabs, with three incumbents facing opposition. Monday night, the six candidates met in a forum on the east side of town.
One of the more hotly debated issues was one that's divided previous city councils for the past few years: funding of non-profits with city funds.
At the forefront of the debate has been the Arts Council of the Brazos Valley, which late last year received $440,000 worth of city funds for the fiscal year. Asked about whether tax payer money should be used for the arts, the opponents clashed.
For example, Place 5 incumbent Chris Scotti said city government shouldn't tell citizens what charitable organization money should go to, while his opponent, Larry Stewart, said Aggieland should strive to be something more than just another prairie school, and that spending money in the arts is good.
That's also the stand Place 1 incumbent John Crompton took, saying hotel-motel tax generated by visitors should go to the arts, while opponent Derek Dictson said young non profits should get city funding, and then be weened off of it.
Then, there's Place 3 incumbent Ron Gay, and his opponent, Dennis Maloney, who took different stands on the non-profit funding issue: Gay saying non-profits shouldn't be funded, Maloney saying arts funding in particular is vital to the community's growth.
"First of all, I'm not running for the board of directors of the United Way," said Gay. "I'm running for city council, and that's what we do in the city. We do core services. We pick up your trash. We pave your streets. We do those things."
"We cannot have an either/or attitude. We're bigger than that," Maloney said. "We're Texas A&M University. We're one of the major universities in the world. We should be enthusiastically embracing the idea of supporting the arts."
Early voting starts two weeks from Monday, with the election on May 10.
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