Five Sulphur Springs City Council candidates appeared at a nonpartisan forum hosted by the Hopkins County Democratic Women Thursday night and spoke of their differences and motivations for running.
In the one hour session, an estimated crowd of 40 heard from current City Council member Clay Walker as well as Craig Johnson, Jordan Horne, Bradley Edge and Claude Walter.
Three candidates, incumbent Garry Jordan, Steve Carmody and Allen Vaughan were not present.
Horne, who spoke first, discussed his youth as an advantage, and spoke of giving younger citizens in Sulphur Springs a greater voice in city affairs. Horne is a 19-year-old college student and stocker at Brookshire’s.
Johnson cited his experience on the Planning and Zoning Commission as well as being a small business owner. Johnson recalled growing up in Sulphur Springs, and today, he lives in the same house on College Street that he grew up in.
Walter, the owner of AES Walterstart, talked about moving to Sulphur Springs in 1981 and making his life and business here. He admitted to not being born in Texas, but in his words, “I got here as quick as I could.”
Incumbent Walker said he had planned not to run again, but on the final day of qualifying, he changed his mind, saying he wanted to return to “see a few things through in respect to the downtown revitalization and the street repairs that have been started.”
Walker was first appointed to the City Council in 2002, and then won uncontested terms in 2003 and 2006.
Edge, who works at a funeral home and graduated from Sulphur Springs High School in 2000, spoke of his desire to see economic and wage growth, especially for young adults his age.
“It’s very hard for someone my age group with a college degree to find a job in a town this size. I have a friend in Austin who would love to move here and raise kids, but he’s got to have a job,” Edge said.
Edge is also a 2004 graduate of East Texas Baptist University
All of the candidates spoke of their admiration for Sulphur Springs, and their desire to serve in city politics.
Walker indicated the city was doing many things right as he cited increases in sales tax revenues and population.
“In the last 13 months, we have had 12 where we’ve had an increase in retail tax revenues, and we’ve kept low unemployment. I think we’ve held up pretty good unlike what you hear elsewhere,” he said.
Johnson outlined a list of goals, including “promoting economic growth, improving the city’s infrastructure, maintaining services, and maintaining city revenue streams without raising taxes.”
“We are blessed to live in a city that is centrally located with access to Interstate transportation, access to both small and international airports, and no state, county or city income tax,” he said.
Walter said, “We’re poised for dynamic growth in our city, and I would like us to continue in the direction we are going.”
Edge spoke about growing up in Sulphur Springs, leaving, and then coming back. In emphasizing an economics theme, he said the median income in the state was $45,000, but in Sulphur Springs, it was $35,000.
“Now, the cost of living — it is not expensive to live here — but we have got to have competitive wages and college-level jobs,” he said.
Horne said, “We have a good thing here. We have good schools. We have won championships. We have good things for kids. We need to give the parents a reason to stay here — and we need new people coming in — Unemployment is low now, if you’ve read the paper, but we need higher paying, high tech jobs that are going to keep people here.”
The gallery also heard from Jason Deeds, an incumbent school board member, running unopposed.
See related video report and segments from speeches on myssnews.com
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