Sanders: Councilman experience preparation for commissioner role

Published on Wednesday, 19 February 2014 23:20 - Written by Faith Harper fharper@tylerpaper.com

Precinct 4 County Commissioner candidate Donald Sanders said his experience working as a councilmember in the city of Tyler prepared him for taking on the county commissioner role.

“The council did a great job in giving me some insight on what the duties are, how to perform the duties as a county commissioner,” the Democratic candidate said.

Sanders, 61, retired from the Kelly Springfield plant after 33 years, and served as the District 2 councilman for the maximum term of six years from 2006 to 2012. He was Mayor Pro Tem in 2008 and 2009.

He also has served on boards in the East Texas Council of Governments and was selected in July to be a Silver Hair legislative representative for the regional Area Agency on Aging though ETCOG.

“Our duty is to go to Austin during the legislative years to serve as activists for seniors citizens 60 and over for benefits and programs,” he said.

Sanders said accessibility to the public is important to him, and if elected, he would have an open-door policy and occasional town-hall meetings to gauge the problems of people in the precinct and the direction they want to see the county grow.

“I’m concerned about helping to improve the quality of life for all citizens in our county …” he said. “I want to continue to inform the constituents that I would be serving as I did on the city council to inform them of what my concerns are. … I don’t want to be one to make all of the decisions and not include my constituents.”

If elected, Sanders said he would focus on economic development and building partnerships between the county and its cities.

“I think we are headed in a great direction with economic growth, but like any other city or county we need more jobs,” he said. “We’ve had jobs diminish and we are on a great road to increasing the jobs in our county. I’m very proud to continue what they are doing here already.”

Smith County has an array of assets that make it attractive to new businesses and families to move here. Sanders said access to medical care, higher education and quality schools are all attractive to potential employers.

While with the city, Sanders was a part of an initiative to outfit all of its streets with curbs and gutters. He said the initiative is currently near completion in Tyler, and he would work to prioritize which roads need repairs the most.

“I know the county’s limited with funding, and they have to depend on grants and the state to help with the funding on that,” he said. “A lot of times those county roads could be improved by utilizing the equipment and staff we already have and periodic maintenance to bring them up to standards.”

Also, he also said the expansion of Toll 49 would be needed by the county, and the longer the project is put off, the more it will cost. However, he said the commissioners made the right move by delaying the decision while more studies were conducted.

“I think the expansion of (Toll) 49 is something that we need, and we will need it even more in the future,” he said. “But, the reinvestment (zone part) of it, we will probably need to do some more thinking about it.”