Questions and Answers

Tablet on a desk - Questions and Answers

Editor’s note: The Times-Review submitted questions to each of the candidates in the Cleburne City Council Single Member District 3 race. Candidates were given 200 words to answer each question. Their answers appear as they were submitted. 

 

Chris Boedeker

Question: The retail and restaurants promised when The Depot opened have yet to arrive. Although a private company oversees those projects what would you do if elected to jumpstart the process?

Answer: Like most Cleburnites, I voted for The Depot, and even bought season tickets to the inaugural season, on the premise that retail was just around the corner. That retail has failed to materialize so far. The $24 million question: what do we do now? I believe we must address this issue on two fronts. We need to apply public and private pressure to the developer to move forward with development. But we also need to remove the structural barriers that businesses face when opening a new storefront. Businesses look at population density and household income before expanding into a new area. We need to focus on growing middle-class jobs in Cleburne that people will be willing to relocate and plug into our community for. When people relocate to Cleburne for good jobs, they can afford to move into the beautiful homes being built in Cleburne. That increases our population density and average household income, which makes Cleburne more attractive to investors. In short, job growth leads to population growth, which will lead to retail growth.  We have to focus on job growth to make sustained retail investment possible. 

 

Q: What should be done with the First Financial Bank building purchased by the city in 2010 that has sat empty since?

A: As the old saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, and the second best time is today. Ideally, the City never would have spent taxpayer dollars on a building that serves absolutely no purpose for the City. While it is too late to prevent that mistake, it is not too late to correct it. If the property cannot be put to a good use, it needs to be sold, rehabilitated, and restored to the tax roll. I know it may take some time to find the right buyer and the right use, but we should make that a priority. 

 

Q: What should be done to continue reviving downtown?

A: The City has taken two important steps in reviving downtown: the façade improvement program and the proposed re-routing of truck traffic off of Henderson. By beautifying downtown and reducing traffic, exhaust fumes, and truck noise, the City has begun making downtown friendly to businesses. Now, we need to make City Hall friendlier to businesses. The City is blessed to have wonderful employees at every level, and we need to make it easier for them to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. Throughout the campaign, I have spoken with countless business owners and developers and have heard the same story from each: Cleburne is the hardest city in the region to do business with. We need to place an emphasis on the “customer service” aspect of city government. That requires a customer-first culture that starts at the top and works its way through every level of the City. We need to remember that government exists to serve its citizens, and the best way to do that is to simplify procedures, streamline approval processes, and look for ways to say “yes” to the people who want to invest in our community.

 

Q: What is the most pressing issue facing Cleburne and how would you address it if elected?

A: The most pressing issue facing the City is the least-likely issue to make the front page of the paper: long-term strategic planning. We have to decide what we want our City to look like 10, 25, and 50 years from today, and then we have to start building toward it. The City has taken important steps that we need to build on. In the past, forward-thinking Cleburnites built Lake Pat and the Municipal Airport, two of the City’s current most valuable, and defining, assets. Cleburne is in a similar crossroads today. Growth is coming to Cleburne as the Metroplex spreads and the Chisolm Trail Parkway provides greater access to it. We need to focus on growing jobs, investing in our infrastructure, and preparing for growth. My primary goal in running for City Council is to make sure that my two sons have a chance to grow up in a Cleburne that is like the one I was born and raised in, and that means planning into the next decades, not just the next budget cycle.

 

Blake Jones

Q: The retail and restaurants promised when The Depot opened have yet to arrive. Although a private company oversees those projects what would you do if elected to jumpstart the process?

A: New Era must substantially complete the construction of all the developer improvements no later than December 31, 2026. Per their contract, no promises have been broken yet and public negativity toward The Depot will only drive prospective retailers away.

Regardless of whether or not I am elected, I will do my best to communicate with entrepreneurs looking to open up shop here.

Brick and mortar retailers have had to recalibrate their business models to stay competitive with online retailers. This being the case, the businesses that come here must provide a consumer experience that would have otherwise not been possible online if they are to be a good fit for Cleburne.

3 years ago there were 41 new residential building permits pulled for the entire year. This year there were 40 by the end of February! BNSF included a new double track that will run from the Alliance Intermodal Facility to Cleburne in their 2019 capital improvement project. The Silo Mills development that crosses over Cleburne and Burleson’s ETJ has been authorized and will bring 2200 homes! Growth is coming.

 

Q: What should be done with the First Financial Bank building purchased by the city in 2010 that has sat empty since?

A: I have asked to enter this building to get an idea of what the city is dealing with. I was told that I would not have permission to enter until after the election. This being the case, I believe that providing a plan for the bank building prior to doing any research would be a naïve as the initial purchase. I understand it was purchased to be used as the new police department until further research proved it would be too costly to renovate for that purpose.

Going on nothing but my past experiences in risk management and knowing how different occupancies can relate in terms of floor plans, I would say that a previous bank would make an excellent location for our library. If the library were to be relocated to this building we would open the door to several cost saving initiatives. We could renovate the existing library to act as our public safety facility. This would cost less than a new building, provide our police department with larger facilities, and save time. If the fire and police admin were both located in this facility, then information could be more easily streamlined between the two departments.

 

Q: What should be done to continue reviving downtown?

A: Our downtown seems to be doing better and better every time I pass through. The credit goes to the people who had the vision to open their businesses there and take advantage of the grant money Cleburne has made available. The sidewalk project is not too far away. TXDOT projects take a good amount of time to hash out and complete. The Cleburne Southern Loop is very necessary to divert truck traffic but is unfortunately on TXDOT’s 2040 plan since there are other projects around the state that take precedent due to higher volume.

Downtown’s revival has and will continue to be contingent on our community’s promotion and patronage.

 

Q: What is the most pressing issue facing Cleburne and how would you address it if elected?

A: Our most pressing issue is communication. Our best and brightest chances at success live within our community. Members of Council should be the voice of the district they live in. If elected, I will hold public forums, knock on doors, and make every other possible attempt to make sure the community is heard and the city staff’s efforts are recognized.

Negativity comes from miscommunication and Cleburne suffers from it. Roads and parks are two very good examples. If the efforts of our new staff in these departments were communicated, I believe it would alleviate this negativity and open the door for our community to weigh in on these issues in a constructive manner.

The parks department is currently working on its master plan which had not been completed since 2009. If updated every 5 years, Cleburne can pursue state grants valued up to $750,000.

The public works department was heavily outsourced a few years back. The new staff has been carefully addressing the staff and equipment needs to address our infrastructure in an affordable and efficient way.

The key to Cleburne’s growth and well being is a constructive connection between the city, council, and the community. 

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