WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The first mayoral debate Thursday, Oct. 1 proved to be an eye-opener for voters.
The hour-long exchange between the three candidates remained relatively calm though with the candidates agreeing on a lot.
Economic development, tax rates, the MPEC and the budget were all topics hit on.
Particularly, those targeted at the proposed MPEC hotel and also how the city is preparing for another possible drought were more controversial.
While heated exchanges remained few and far between during the first mayoral debate, one that nearly caught fire is over the concept of leasing the MPEC.
“It’s funny how private industries, I’m looking at some way to cut those subsidies,” mayoral candidate Kevin Hunter said.
“We need somebody, the citizens need somebody, a professional company, to come in and make sure they qualify for that,” Mayor Stephen Santellana, who is running for re-election, said.
James Huling focusing on the younger crowd and entertainment while sharing about one artist who performed there.
“He actually came back and told me afterward that they probably won’t ever come back here because the ticket sales were horrible,” mayoral candidate James Huling said. “I don’t know if that’s just because of the Wichita Falls residents or did we not do our part in the city to get that out.”
Meanwhile, the drought and the potential for another prompted a question about planning ahead.
Hunter and Santellana want to keep the permits rolling while Huling believes it’s time to slow down.
“We’re trying to pass school bonds, we’re trying to pay off our water bills, but when’s it gonna stop because there are other things in Wichita that need to be worked on as well,” Huling said. “Right now we’re in an economic crisis and we’re trying to drop all these huge bombs on everyone.”
Hunter emphasizing his position on bonds and one bond’s relation to funding for the police and fire departments.
“I spent some money and I’ll always stand by getting those bonds voted down, but it gave them the room to give them [WFPD, WFFD] a raise,” Hunter said.
“Try not to backtrack from other statements where you’re saying ‘we don’t want to ever raise the rate,'” Santellana said. “Voting no for everything, well voting no for everything is not going to fix anything.”
A chance for voters to hear exactly where these candidates stand on each issue.
The three agreed on things like not defunding the police, keeping tax rates low while also growing the city economically.
If you missed the debate, you can find it in full here.