By KELLY GOOCH, firstname.lastname@example.org
City of Tyler mayoral candidates discussed the city and its future during a debate Thursday night.
Former District 4 City Councilman Martin Heines and business owner Joel Rando took part in the debate, which was held by Grassroots America — We the People at Lakeview Church of the Nazarene. The two candidates will face each other in the May 10 election.
Rando, 39, owner of a locksmith company, said he didn’t agree with doing the downtown parking garage project at this time.
“Just because we don’t have (general obligation) debt doesn’t mean we need to spend money,” he said. “I don’t think we need four levels.”
He said he also believes there are not enough city employees, and some employees need assistance. One possible solution to that, he said, is internships.
Rando also called himself “approachable,” and told audience members that if elected, he will be a mayor that represents the people.
He said traffic and public safety are two of the biggest challenges the city faces.
“I am in tune with the (police) chief and the city leaders, and see things that need to be done,” Rando said.
He said he decided to run because he’s proud of Tyler, and he is pleased with the city’s “triple A” bond rating, among other things.
However, “there’s room for improvement,” he said.
He said he does not want to change things, but wants to improve them.
“I want to make a difference,” he said.
Heines, a small business owner and property manager-investor, said Tyler has been a good steward of taxpayer money — for instance, cutting spending when the revenue wasn’t there — and will continue to do so.
He also referenced the “triple A” bond rating, as well as the fact that the city has no general obligation debt.
“We do live within our means, and we’re very serious about keeping the budget low,” Heines said.
“We run a very tight government,” he added.
Heines said the city is committed to continuing to not have general obligation debt.
He said the parking garage project is partially being funded through Half Cent Sales Tax, and oversizing the parking garage is necessary for proper planning.
As far as employees, Heines said, “We have lowered (the number of) employees because we’re more efficient.”
Additionally, he said, the city is not dependent on anybody.
He said the city does get some federal funds, most of which come through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, but is self-sufficient.
“My job is to make sure we are not at the whim of the federal government and will continue to fight that,” Heines said.
If elected mayor, he said, the city will “continue doing this conservative approach to city government.”
He also mentioned improvement plans, such as the West Cumberland Road extension project, which he said is needed to help congestion on Broadway Avenue.
He said the Tyler Police Department substation that is planned for south Tyler also will be beneficial because it allows better access for people to do reports, among other things.
Additionally, he said he, too, is approachable and listens to people.