Editor’s note: The Times-Review submitted questions to each of the candidates in the Cleburne mayor race. Candidates were given 250 words to answer each question. Their answers appear as they were submitted in alphabetical order by the candidate’s last name.
Question: What qualifies you to serve as mayor of Cleburne?
Scott Cain: I have the experience and training needed to lead Cleburne into the next decade. Over the past 8 plus years, I have guided Cleburne through tornado recovery, a pandemic, economic growth, and many other issues our community has faced. The question for voters this year is whether they want proven leadership they know or they want to go with an unknown and untested leader.
During my tenure, I have handled local, state, national and international scrutiny in representing our community. We have also improved communications and accountability throughout city government. During the early part of covid, I spent countless hours on zoom calls with our businesses, churches and general public to guide us through unprecedented times. Over the next few years, our city will face important decisions that require proven and effective communication skills. But we should never be satisfied with the status quo. I believe we can continue to improve and become the gold standard for cities our size, and accurate, timely and informative communications is very important.
Each decision I have made as mayor has been based upon what is best for Cleburne. On key issues, I have tried to listen to all points of view and make the best call I can. Democracy is messy and difficult, but is worthwhile. It is important for a community to know that their mayor loves them and exudes community spirit. I am and always be proud to call Cleburne my hometown and it is an honor to serve as mayor.
John Paul “JP” Lowery: I believe all elected positions should have term limits. The idea of making a career out of being in political office does not serve the will of the people. It serves the interest of those who get them elected time and time again. There develops from this a plan that benefits the few at the expense of the many. But the many do not understand their power. They can vote and change the very system that counts on them NOT to vote. It is time to take interest in your duty as a citizen, this is how things can change. From the President to local offices. Do the job and return home. 2 terms for mayor is enough. this will be the mayors 5th term.
This election has only 1 race unopposed, The mayor. Is that sad or what? Where are you?
The idea is to get new people every few years, especially at the local level. So here we are. 2020-
Molloy: Resident of Cleburne all my life and I care about the people in my community.
Q: Discuss two or three issues of importance you plan to focus upon if elected.
Cain: Over the past 10 years, Cleburne has laid the foundation for our future. We planned for growth and improved our infrastructure. Over the next ten years, it is critical that we stay ahead of growth and manage it so we keep our community’s character and feel. I hope to continue reducing our tax rate as our tax base increases, but we have to plan to stay ahead of the growth so Cleburne keeps that small town feel we all love.
Over the past few years we have worked hard to change the culture at city hall to one that focusses on customer service and quality improvement. We must continue to work on improving customer service and never feel like we have arrived. Before covid, I started training mid-level management in customer service and quality improvement strategies and will return the training later. This program helps continue improving the city’s culture and prepare future directors for the future.
This year we have worked on a new parks masterplan and in the coming years, it will be time to put the plan into action. This should include upgrades to both Lake Pat, Hulen and Carver parks. Our police officers protect us and deserve better facilities than the current police department. Many of them literally work out of closets and around boxes in a facility that has outlived its usefulness. I hope to bring a facilities plan to the community to consider and vote on in the near future.
Lowery: The current population is 30,000 give or take.
Are YOU AWARE ? The city plan is to have 58,000 people living in Cleburne by 2030? Double the population in 10 years??
I do not think there is a plan to double the size of Lake Pat Cleburne-
The plan is to rely on other counties if we need water. Bad Plan for a budding self sufficient metropolis!
Is anything more important to a Population than its Water? Without water you have no population.
It should not resemble a mud pit. It should have a nice sandy beach and swimming area and family friendly activities.
Pride in ownership! We can ALL work together to make it what WE want.
Molloy: Bring community closer together by having more festivities and make the city more handicapped accessible.
Q: Voters in 2015 approved issuance of $25 million in bonds in anticipation of retail and restaurants at Cleburne Station. Five years on, the site remains a vacant field. If elected, what do you intend to do to move the project from concept to reality?
Cain: There is no one more disappointed in the delays in development around the Depot than I am. After we vetted and the community voted on the project, brick and mortar retail changed because of the Amazon effect and now because of covid. We have to remain patient and be willing to adjust the emphasis from retail to entertainment and dining.
It takes years for a project like this to complete. The McPherson Road project was on the books for almost 10 years before construction began last year. I will continue to talk to prospective businesses, press the developer, and work with council to arrive at a complete project that we can all be proud of and that will generate tax revenue for our community. We have one shot at our new front door to the community, so its important that we get it right, even if that means waiting a bit longer.
I’ve seen the social media posts and comments. I understand the frustration. And I understand that my opponents point to the delays as a reason for change. However, the real question for Cleburne this election is this: Is Cleburne better off than we were 8 years ago? If the answer is yes, lets keep moving forward. If you believe the answer is no, then make a change to a new unknown and unproven leader. Regardless, being mayor at a time like this is about a lot more than delays on one project.
Lowery: So we might want to start there., before more schools or stadiums or bond elections for new schools or more money for multi million$$ ballpark we rushed to build, without considering the NEED for the 90 Million dollars of revenue per year we did NOT get from Upscale shopping arena “done deal”. 19 plus times you have been Promised in print “we will build it soon” from many local officials. In this bond we maxed out our sales tax years ago. Anybody listening yet?
Lets get that done.... Enough with the lip service..... According to Mayor Cain this was a “done deal” in 2015, all we had to do was vote.
Molloy: Go to the corporation and invite them to build their games and restaurants.
Q: Many argue that Cleburne offers little for children and young adults. How would you address such concerns?
Cain: Over the past few years, we have taken steps to improving entertainment and recreational opportunities for children and young adults. We have improved our children’s playgrounds, added new restrooms to parks and our community approved the Depot for family entertainment. Over the next few years, I hope to improve Hulen Park and Lake Pat, add a skate park, improve Splash Station, and welcome new businesses downtown that cater to young adults. I will continue to seek out input from our children and young families because they are our future.
Over the past 8 years, I have worked as hard as I can, talked to as many people and businesses as possible, and asked our community to dream of a bright future. Together we have updated our codes and ordinances, improved our community pride and spirit, made the most of the opportunities presented, and gotten back to the basics of roads and infrastructure. Over the past decade we have laid a solid foundation for our community. Over the next decade, we will realize our future by building upon that solid foundation. Some say Cleburne’s best days were in the last century with the railroad. I refuse to believe our best days are history. I say our best days are just ahead. We have seen our community turn things around by working together. So I again ask for our community’s support and vote as we continue to work together to make it a great day in Cleburne!
Lowery: I have been approached by many people about activities for their children. Skate parks, bike trails, Go carts, putt putt golf, Self defense lessons, boxing clubs, bowling/arcades/ laser tag, basketball leagues, fishing clubs, hunting clubs, firearms safety training, The old-style rodeo parades, things we used to have... All good ideas, it will take time, but it is important we keep our eyes on our children whatever we do. I am open to ideas and everything should be considered by the city council.
To the voter, bond elections mean higher property taxes. Consider deeply before you vote the ramifications of the future, there is a process.... needs first, then wants. We are only as strong as the least of us. Lets build a future focused on those here now as well as managed growth for those newly arrived or coming soon. I sincerely hope we can maintain the elements of what brings us here with respect for those who passed before us. lets move forward together- JP
Molloy: Put in things more family oriented.