The Daily Ardmoreite
  • Voters to decide future of Healdton

  • Following months of debate over the direction the city has taken, the first step toward a resolution will take place Tuesday.

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  • Following months of debate over the direction the city has taken, the first step toward a resolution will take place Tuesday.
    Voters will be asked to decide whether the current direction of the city is sound or if change is in order in a recall election. Mayor Richard Bray will face Jerry Couch and former councilman Rick Pender for the seat in Ward 3. Steven Handcock was recalled by petition in Ward 4, but gave up his seat following an engagement and move out of city limits. Vying for the seat will be former councilman Herb Collier and Danny Veal.
    Each of the men running for office were contacted by the Ardmoreite and asked why they wanted to run for office. Below are their answers. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order per ward.
    Ward 4
    Mayor Richard Bray
    “I want to finish the work we have started here. We have street projects and we have rebuilt the police department. Right now, we are trying to get a full-time dogcatcher on the police department. We have been trying to figure it out; we have one man that goes out on calls. With people complaining about the dog situation, we are working to get a full-time dogcatcher and upgrade housing for the animals.
    We have had one-lane streets and now we have two lane streets we are working on. A lot of times, you have to find your money before you get your stuff going and that is why we don’t have a dogcatcher yet. Sometimes that takes a year I have found out.
    We plan to move forward. For the last two years, we have cleaned the city up. We have abandoned vans and abandoned vehicles. We would like the get them cleaned up and clean up the hazards. We have listened real well to peoples’ complaints. I have gone out and looked at things and come back to the city and talked about the problems.
    I can tell you mostly what I have done and I have worked for the betterment of things. When I came on board as mayor, most of the boards were not operational. I have been trying to get things going. Board members now get certificates, which we thought would give them pride.”
    Bray was asked about his recent decision to vote against the city attorney’s recommendation to suspend the city cable contractor’s work with the city until he turned in documents such as insurance, worker’s comp and certificate liability.
    “The city attorney I felt was talking more off of his thoughts than legality. I didn’t think that was right, but he is the lawyer and I am going to get the answer. I thought the agreement we had with the contractor was legitimate. When they came up with minor stuff with the truck….I wouldn’t talk about that. If I don’t know the answers, I don’t feel the need to answer that.”
    Page 2 of 3 - Jerry Couch
    “For the last six years that I have been involved in city politics, seems like a lot of things have been done wrong or illegal and then swept under the table, to always come up bad at a later time. My only agenda is to get things back right and legal so we can have a better town.”
    Rick Pender
    “It’s in such a mess. Water treatment was always the priority when I got on there, and cost-effective water. I thought when we (former council members) got off council, the money in the landfill account was for water and I got upset when they started using the money for police cars, tractors and remodeling city hall. Now we need to have $300,000 (CDBG grant). I think if I get back on the council, we can start saving money for the water treatment plant.
    “I want to cut spending. I think we need to reevaluate the cable company. We need to pinch down on the vehicle usage. There are a lot of areas we can cut back. If you can save $2,000 a month, that is a start. I have ideas and if you park vehicles, you save money.
    “After I left (the council), I had numerous people jump me and ask why I got off. When things started going sour, I had a group talk to me and we had the recall. It wasn’t an overnight decision. I have lived in an 8-mile circle for 56 years. It concerns me the people that are supposed to be watching over us the last two years have not been watching over us. They have not been listening to the will of the people.”
    Ward 4
    Herb Collier
    “I would venture to say, I decided to come back when Steven Handcock resigned. I just basically don’t like what is going on with our city government. We have to get a balanced budget for the Healdton Municipal Authority. That is priority one and we have to get back to work on the sewer plant. We need to put water on the forefront and take cable off of it. We need to get our infrastructure in place. If cable will not make money, and from what I have seen it is losing more money and is losing support of the folks, at some point we have to stop the bleeding.
    “This was not a decision I took lightly. When the recall started, I was asked if I would run. I talked to my wife and my daughter, I went to the meetings and I thought I could do something constructive.”
    Danny Veal
    “I’m a hometown boy and I care about Healdton. It’s my hometown and I just want it to go in the right direction for the future of the city and the community as a whole. I want what is best for everyone that lives here.
    Page 3 of 3 - “I have been a reserve police officer through four or five chiefs and I have been on the planning and zoning commission. I’ve coached Little League Baseball for 24 years and have been a scout leader. I have kids that graduated here and kids that go to school here. My family goes back to the 1940’s in Healdton. I have a deeply-vested interest in the city and I want to help get it back on track. I want to make the city a place people can be proud of, in how it looks and how it is represented. If someone moves to Healdton, I want them to move here because of the way it looks and what it has to offer.
    “If I get on council, I am going to vote with my heart and how the people want. I am going to get the peoples’ input. I want to know how they feel about the issues.”
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