On the ballot: Vidor City Council

On the ballot: Vidor City Council

In last year’s election, three Vidor City Council incumbents were uprooted and replaced with fresh faces in Wards 2, 3 and 5. This election, the remaining three posts are up for grabs, as is the mayoral seat. The only uncontested race will put newcomer Lynda Gaye Courtney in the Ward 1 seat, a post vacated by Don Eicher, who has put in a bid in the mayoral race. Vidor Mayor Ray Long is not seeking re-election, but Eicher is not alone in his quest to be mayor. Kenneth Edward Crawford, Herbert Lawrence Harris, Thomas Dale Madeley and Johnny Lee Moore will also appear on the ballot. Courtney said she was surprised to be the sole candidate for the Ward 1 seat, but at the same time she’s excited about the prospects for the future of the council, and for the city of Vidor. “I’m new to this and I have a lot to learn,” she said. “I look at this as a challenge.” The main challenge Courtney said she will be addressing during her time on the City Council will be how to get Vidor a better reputation. “Right now the reputation is Vidor not being desirable,” Courtney said, citing examples such as dilapidated and vacant housing as the root of the bad wrap. “I want to see our town more like Lumberton, more like a subdivision people would want to come live in. I’d like to see more parks for the kids, more businesses and more choices in those businesses. I don’t want anyone from here to have to go to Beaumont for anything if they don’t want to. “I want Vidor to be a place where people would want to live, and still keep that small-town feel,” she said. Courtney also feels zoning will help draw businesses and residents alike into the city by giving the community a more uniform appearance. “I have a real problem right now with portable buildings smack-dab in the middle of Main Street – especially when they’re being used for housing,” she said, adding that while she’s all in favor of new housing developments, a separation between the commercial and residential sectors would be much more appealing. On the same note, she said a clear understanding of what area is actually part of the municipality as opposed to the county would be beneficial. “I live in Vidor off Highway 12,” she said. “As I drive toward Vidor, I enter the county, then back into Vidor again. It’s very confusing where the city actually ends and begins.” As for the hot issue of the $13 million City Hall, which is suspected to have triggered the Vidor Council overhaul, Courtney is clear on her stance. “I see it as a lot of waste,” she said. “I have a street that needs repaired, our police are underpaid. … I believe a lot of other services will be hurt because of this.” To alleviate such budget turmoil inthe future, Courtney said she would like to see a “cap” placed on amounts the council can approve without getting a vote from the citizens. The only way such a plan would help, she said, “would be if more people got involved.” More citizen involvement is also a rally cry that can be heard from Ward 4 challenger Justin Horsley. “The main thing I’d like to see happen in the city is for the community to become more involved,” Horsley said. “And,” he added, “we need to re-introduce that to our younger generation, as well.” Horsley said he will be an asset to the council by bringing a fresh outlook to the table. “You have some people in office for years and years, and you end up with the good ol’ buddy boy system,” Horsley said. “I’m coming in a fresh face with a lot of new ideas. It’s time for Vidor to get a new staff, new opinions, and get someone in office who will listen to the citizens. Yea, I have a say-so, but so should every citizen of Vidor. The group needs to work together and we need to listen to the citizens we represent.” Horsley said he is disappointed in the city’s acquisition of such a costly City Hall, calling the structure “a thorn in our side.” Horsley believes the building can be paid for, hopefully, without the need to raise taxes but said the office building “is stopping some of our economical growth.” In short, Horsley said, “I just want the city to prosper, and I think we can find a better way to do just that.” Opposing Horsley in the race for Ward 4 is the lone incumbent seeking a post on the otherwise newly constructed City Council, Mallie Bickham. Multiple calls to Bickham’s home and office seeking comment for this article were not returned. In Ward 6, Kenneth Luce and Trey Haney are vying for the post vacated by longtime city rep David Slaughter, who is not seeking re-election. Both men are products of Vidor, with ties to the small city and high hopes for the community’s future, starting with offering residents a voice in how elected officials handle city business. “We’re suppose to be giving back to the citizens,” Luce said. “We need to listen to their concerns. We need to find out what it is they want, not what we want for them. Our citizens have never been represented correctly, and that has created voter apathy really bad.” Luce, an Orange County correctional officer, said he would like to see the city’s budget re-evaluated, as well as the pay system under which Vidor law enforcement personnel are hired and paid. The city could afford enough police officers to man all shifts adequately, and provide adequate compensation in line with cities of similar population, he said, “if we budget right and cut out frivolous spending.” Fellow Ward 6 contender Haney said he, too, wants to see better business sense used when handling city of Vidor matters. “I’d like to see more of the city’s budget put on things the citizens need – like roads,” Haney said. “We need things to make Vidor a better place, not excessive spending.” Haney, who is business manager for a family business aptly named Family Pharmacy, said in his professional opinion, the taxes levied against the citizens of Vidor are “an issue that definitely needs to be addressed.” According to Haney, residents are paying about 50 percent more in taxes than homeowners in any other portion of the county. Haney, when given the opportunity, also addressed concerns raised by those opposing his election due to a 2009 offense of driving while intoxicated. “I make mistakes like anyone else,” Haney said, before recounting the evening’s events that led to his subsequent arrest and Class B Misdemeanor conviction. “I regret it and it’s never happened since, although I realize the first time was once too many.” Haney said he understands the seriousness of his past offense, but is counting on Vidor residents to be as equally understanding that no man is perfect. “Anybody who hasn’t made a mistake can go out and vote against me because I have, and I won’t hold that against them,” he said. “Aside from that, I just want voters to go and vote for the best person for the job.”

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Comments

Good job Lynda,Justin,Ken

Good job Lynda,Justin,Ken... I agree to what yall have said...

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