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Candidate forum highlights strengths, goals

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Posted: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 12:00 pm

Four of the five candidates seeking election to the Bandera City Council outlined their reasons for running for office and what they thought about the direction of city government during a Council Candidate Forum put on by the League of Women Voters – Hill Country on Oct. 10.

The candidates agreed on some issues – like infrastructure improvements being a key priority in the city – but disagreed on others like how best to promote economic development in Bandera and whether substantial financial incentives were needed to get a Best Western hotel to downtown Bandera.

The four – Lynn Palmer, Cindy Lou Coffey, Greg Gibson and Rebeca Gibson - spoke less than two weeks before early voting starts in Bandera and a little less than a month before the final votes are cast in the Nov. 7 election that includes consideration of seven, state constitutional amendments and other races or propositions in other communities.

The only candidate not to make the forum was Christine Morse, who said she was required to attend a real estate conference in Austin at the same time as the forum because of her recent appointment to the board of the Bandera County Board of Realtors. 

The other four candidates tried to identify points that set them apart from their challengers and highlighted issues in their backgrounds that they felt would make them more effective council members.

“I’m invested in the city and my service on council qualified me (for office),” said Palmer, who was on council from 2001 – 2007 and was appointed to council in June to temporarily fill a seat vacated by former Councilwoman Sheila Pumphrey.  “I have run a successful business for 25 years.  The city is almost like a business.”

Greg Gibson, who is not related to Rebeca Gibson, is the only candidate who has not served on council before, but he said he had learned a lot about contracts and government operations as a building contractor and felt he had much to offer.

He characterized himself as the candidate who will bring change to the city.

“If you don’t like the way things are going, why don’t you just vote for me,” said Greg Gibson, who ran unsuccessfully as a write-in candidate for council last year.

Coffey, a business consultant who was appointed to a council post last May but gave up the seat later in the year to run unsuccessfully for mayor, said she has extensive experience in state and local government in both California and Texas.

She said the city needed to be run better so it could begin to live within its means.  Coffey hopes to develop ways to help businesses in town prosper so the economy can become sustainable.

Rebeca Gibson has been a teacher in the Bandera Independent School District full time for 11 years and has served on council for one term, this year as mayor pro tem.

She said she believes in engaging in civil discourse with people over the key issues facing the city.  Gibson sees the execution of the city’s master plan and long-term planning as key issues facing council.

Palmer said she felt the city administration and council are now working together cohesively.  She said she would appreciate another term on council to help complete some of the projects that have been started.

Palmer said she felt the city needed a major hotel like the one proposed by a Best Western developer, but she did not agree with all the incentives that have been proposed for that project, while Greg Gibson also agreed a hotel was needed but did not think city incentives should be provided.

Coffey, on the other hand, does not want to see a franchise hotel in downtown Bandera and does not believe the project offers enough to the city to justify the incentives.

Rebeca Gibson said the public has called for a new hotel in town.  The incentives the city has offered developers will not restrict current revenues but will allow the developer to use tax revenues his hotel creates and are not there now, she said.

Council has three opening to fill in this year’s election.  The top three vote getters will claim those posts.

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