PARTY CHAIRS TOMMY LONG AND DONNIE WISENBAKER
Approximately 75 Republicans and Democrats attended a bi-partisan Candidate’s Forum on Tuesday evening October 18, 2016 in the Fellowship Hall of League Street Church of Christ in Sulphur Springs. Republican party chair Donnie Wisenbaker and Democratic party chair Tommy Long welcomed the audience. Moderator was Dr. John Allen and timekeeper was Dr. Suzanne Bankston. On the schedule was a question and answer sessions for the audience with Precinct 3 candidates, to be followed by a presentation from PJC President Pam Anglin. At 6:20pm, following a coin toss, the first to speak was Precinct 3 Commissioner Wade Bartley, the Republican candidate for the office. His Democratic opponent Billy Emerson also answered the 5 prepared questions. Here is a brief overview.
- “SINCE I PAY A LOT OF TAXES EVERY YEAR, WHY CAN’T OUR COUNTY ROADS BE IN BETTER SHAPE?” Both candidates replied that maintaining county roads is challenging with the present demands on the budget.
- MR. EMERSON’S CAMPAIGN TRUCK HAS A SLOGAN THAT SAYS “THERE IS A DIFFERENCE”. CAN YOU EACH EXPLAIN WHAT YOU THINK THE DIFFERENCE IN YOUR POSITIONS MAY BE?” Bartley explained that his experience in doing the job, his wife, children and grandchildren, his church attendance, and his contributions to the community through fundraising events display the difference he is proud to convey. Emerson answered that a different approach to doing the job of commissioner is the difference he would offer.
- “THE ISSUE OF THE NEW PARKING LOT ON JEFFERSON AT ROSEMONT STREET HAS BEEN BROUGHT UP IN THE NEWSPAPER. CAN YOU EXPLAIN HOW IT CAME INTO BEING AND WHAT IS YOUR POSITION?” Emerson replied that the parking lot is now completed, but it took time away from the work of county roads during the length of the project. Bartley stated that in 2007, an agreement to save funds from the sale of a downtown building (Fidelity Express) set the money aside for the parking lot. It was a partnership between the City of Sulphur Springs and Hopkins County, and that $100,000 was saved through work done through this partnership. Also, he hoped the same sort of partnership could benefit the proposed Pipeline Road project.
- “CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT PORTION OF OUR TAXES GOES TO THE MAINTENANCE OF COUNTY ROADS?” Emerson gave a breakdown of how tax money is apportioned for purchases and for labor, saying that about half the almost $950,000 in tax revenue is split between the two types of expense. Bartley gave a breakdown of how an individual’s taxes are spent by the county. He used $313.70 as an example of an individual’s County Tax bill. He stated that 24% of the total goes to roads and bridges, so about $79 would go to the County Commissioners’ office to be split four ways, resulting in about $18 for each precinct to devote to road maintenance.
- “WHAT IS YOUR OPINION OF THE RE-OPENING OF PIPELINE ROAD AND WHY?” Bartley stated that he feels that Pipeline Road could provide quicker access by EMS for the residents of the eastern part of the county, including persons as far out as Weaver. He stated that he has discovered possibilities of a grant through FEMA , as well as an offer from TxDot to put that road’s bridge back on it’s list to repair it at no cost to the county. Emerson stated that not all residents of Pipeline Road would like to have the road re-opened.
The Q & A session ended, followed by an intermission, while the audience awaited the arrival of Dr. Anglin who had presented a similar session in the community of Roxton. Upon the arrival of the PJC representatives, Dr. Anglin spoke to the audience about the tax rate proposal. Also speaking against the tax issue was a member of Texas Senator District 2 Bob Hall’s office, District Director Destin Semsky. Semsky told the audience that they have to pay taxes but no more taxes.