Former City Councilman Martin Heines said he is committed to keeping the city of Tyler on a path that is financially conservative.
Heines, a small-business owner and property manager-investor, is running for mayor, and will face businessman Joel Rando in the May 10 election. Heines recently sat down with the Tyler Morning Telegraph editorial board.
Heines, 51, grew up in Tyler and attended Hubbard Middle School and Robert E. Lee High School.
He studied urban land economics at The University of Texas at Austin and then came back to Tyler in 1985.
He was elected to the District 4 City Council position in 2010 and has served as mayor pro tem. He has worked in various city volunteer positions in addition to his service on the council, including being chairman of The University of Texas at Tyler’s Small Business Institute and as a member of the Mayor’s Tyler Leadership Roundtable. Heines also serves on the Midtown Area Development Committee.
He said he thinks it’s important that someone come to the mayor position from a City Council background.
“We have 36 funds, and when you do that financial oversight, not only is your business background important and your educational background to understand those financial reports. The experience of being on the council is invaluable for the financial oversight role,” he said.
Heines said he is committed to continuing the city’s strong, solid financial management, citing Tyler’s AAA bond rating, no general obligation debt and tax rate.
He said Tyler has been successful in maintaining no general obligation debt, and he would not support the city going into general obligation debt for an event center.
But he said he would like to look at “how we can use our existing facilities to create opportunities.”
“What are the opportunities that we can create that is somewhat like an event center, and what kind of entertainment venues can we have out there? What kind of sports venues can we have out there? Those are the kind of things we need to look at,” he said.
He said he views every part of Tyler as important, including downtown, and believes the arts are critical to a regional community like Tyler.
“Arts is a part of any regional community and so the enhancement of the arts is supported by the city of Tyler,” he said.
Still, he said, nonprofits are the leader in the arts, and he believes the city should support those organizations, as well as faith-based organizations.
Heines said there is a need to retain young professionals who are being trained in Tyler’s higher education institutions, and he would like to see a community discussion on how to create more entrepreneurialism in Tyler.
Heines said he thinks the community has a role in caring for children and providing opportunities for them.
“I’m not talking money necessarily, as I am talking about human capital,” he said. “We have such an incredible faith-based community and a nonprofit community. … We have a large retirement population. If we can mobilize and call people to action … we can make a difference. The city’s role, the mayor’s role is not to do the direct role. … But we want to help call the community to enhance, and there are a lot of opportunities to do that.”
When asked what state issues need to be monitored, he cited things, such as water and roads.
Heines said he is committed to the volunteer position of mayor.
“I love this community, and it is essential that we do not lose the momentum that we’ve had for the last 15 to 20 years. That’s why I’m volunteering. I take it very serious,” he said.
And, he said, he has enjoyed knocking on doors and hearing from community members.
“You don’t develop issues just by yourself. It comes from the community. It comes from the people that I’ve met,” Heines said.