The South Plains Republicans hosted a political forum for city council and school board candidates Monday night.
City Council Candidates Bo Bowman, Cody Poage and Joe Bill Vardeman all attended and fielded questions from the group, Candidate, Max Ledesma was unable to attend. It was noted that Garbage Service is considered a big concern of all the candidates and an issue that all felt would have to be addressed in the future. Bowman is also concerned that the city is obligating a large amount of money on stage 1 of the sports complex with an estimated 20 year payback and he is concerned that they would not have the funds to build any more.
Questions were asked by members of the South Plains Republicans…….
1) Water is becoming a crucial issue–can you expand on the availability for Levelland in the future and what is being done to insure that availability?
Bowman replied that Levelland is fortunate to be a part of the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority (CRMWA) and has also purchased water rights from T. Boone Pickens and secured other water rights inside Levelland for future development. With Levelland being a part of CRMWA we should have an adequate supply of water for years to come.
Vardeman said that conservation is key and everyone must conserve.
Poage said that Bowman and other past city councils are to be commended for their foresight in joining the CRMWA organization, he also felt that conservation is necessary on all levels.
2) Are we using all recycled water for all industrial or is it just the ethanol plant.
The agreement is currently with only the ethanol plant, however it was pointed out by Poage that they are not using all they are allocated by the city. He also pointed out a recent agreement that will allow the ethanol plant to sell some of the filtered recycled water they are not using to the petroleum industry for local fracking operations. He said that the city could have sold the water but they would have to invest millions in a filtering system which the ethanol plant already has in place. He felt like the agreement was good and would reduce the amount of drinkable water the fracking industry is using.
3) What do you think needs addressed concerning garbage service in the city?
Bowman said the council is going to have to hold the provider responsible going on to say that if they do not meet the terms of the contract then they do not get paid.
Vardeman said that he had heard talk of a possibility of going to the smaller trash cans for each house and pickup would be in the front of the house at the curb. He is against that proposal, especially because of the elderly in the city.
Poage said there is currently not a performance clause int he current contract with the provider–he feels the contract needs to be re-negotiated and even felt that the service needed to be put out for bid to see if other companies were interested in providing the service.
School Board candidates present included Rusty Gibson, Paul Ochoa, Bill Brown and Joyce Johnson.
For School Board candidates most of the questions were from the public.
1) How do you feel about out sourcing some of the services, such as custodial and maintenance and do you feel the district needs to go in a different direction.
Ochoa stated he felt the district needed to go in a different direction if current provider was not doing their job.
Gibson said he appreciated the question and said that he felt everyone could always do a better job but he was comfortable with the job the current provider was doing. He pointed out that the current provider has a 1.5 Million dollar budget and 1 million of that is payroll.
Johnson said that she has talked to the custodians and has listened to their concerns and has taken those to the superintendent. She went on to say we have to make sure we are good stewards with the taxpayers money.
Brown stated that he felt that maybe the current supervisor was not hearing about the problems and not given the chance to take care of the issues.
2) A citizen stated that they were unhappy with a recent decision by the board to not extend the contract of 5 long term employees of the district and wants to know why the board went against the recommendation of the campus administrators and Superintendent?
Gibson said he spoke with each of the employees involved and further stated that he did not realize the impact of his vote that night and he apologized to each of the employees. He stated that he now realized that the board should not have gone against the administrations recommendation. He also said he hopes the public will not “punish the kids by voting the bond issue down because they are upset with recent actions of the board.”
Johnson said she asked what she should do and was advised that due to ethics and possible law suits she should not speak to the individuals. She said she voted based on her conscience that night and it was not a vindictive vote.
All candidates voiced concerns over state and federal requirements and the state mandated STARR test. Most candidates feel that the STARR test is a burden to teachers, students and parents.