Categories: Headliner Date: Mar 14, 2013 Title: Diversity Highlights Mayoral Contest
By WARREN SLAUGHTER
Since current Dalhart Mayor Kevin Caddell has announced he will not seek reelection to another term, a diverse slate of three candidates will make choosing a new mayor a very challenging task for voters. Will Dalhartans choose someone who has held the job before, or will they choose someone with experience on the city council? Will voters go in a completely different direction and choose a relative newcomer? With Election Day for city offices on May 11, and early voting beginning in April, only time will tell what direction citizens think is best for their community. Following is some information on each candidate.
Tammi Kate Ledford
As a former Mayor of Dalhart, Gene Rahll is seeking a single term to give the city more experience. Mr. Rahll served the city as Mayor for 16 years.
“We have a good, effective city manager, but he’s been on the job for less than a year,” Mr. Rahll observed. “Both of my opponents are good, concerned citizens, but one has no business or government experience, and the other has had a short term on the Council. If elected, I will run for one term until people get more experience. I care about Dalhart.”
Mr. Rahll sees providing housing, providing better paying jobs, controlling drugs as well as a lack of higher skilled employees and the water supply as some of the greatest challenges being faced by the city. He sees Dalhart’s strengths as having a solid infrastructure, good schools and adequate recreation facilities. He also pointed out that Dalhart is a vital transportation hub, serving as a crossroads for three major highways and two railroads.
Mr. Rahll would like to see more retail opportunities, but feels there are not enough people here to attract major retailers. He would not like to see a Wal-Mart come into Dalhart. He would like to see Dalhart generate more agricultural related opportunities and for the schools to continue their improvement.
Kurtis Thomas has served on the Dalhart City Council since 2010. He worked in Washington, D.C., for Texas Congressman John Carter, and has been around government since the age of 23 in different capacities. He is currently employed in the private sector, but he is looking to applying his knowledge of government to leading Dalhart into the future.
“When I travel around the state and tell people I’m from Dalhart, they usually say ‘I’ve been through there,’ or ‘That little town is growing,’ Mr. Thomas said. “I’m proud of that, but the growth is also our challenge. I look forward to more growth, but we have to plan for it with increased infrastructure – water, sewer and streets. We also have to increase our public safety personnel. That means more police officers, more volunteer firefighters and more EMS workers. Perhaps we need an auxiliary fire station – some other location with another fire truck or two, to get our response time down.”
Dalhart’s biggest strength, according to Mr. Thomas, is “a sound fiscal policy that has served us well over the past 10 years.” He pointed to the recent city audit, which indicated that the city is funding its retirement plan at 103% and has 10 months of operational reserves. He cautioned, however, that these reserves are necessary to continue the smooth operation of the services provided by the city.
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