Quitman City Council and mayoral candidates staked their positions on issues during a candidate forum sponsored by the Quitman Chamber of Commerce on April 9 at the Quitman Public Library.
Alderman candidates Brad Medlin and Michael Raney and mayoral candidates Randy Dunn and J.R. Evans were on hand for the forum. Alderman candidates David Dobbs, Quitman’s current mayor, and Arnie Spiers were unable to attend due to work obligations.
The forum was moderated by Neal Duncan, chamber board member, and Scott Dunston functioned as time-keeper.
In his opening statement Medlin, who is seeking reelection, mentioned how water infrastructure is one of his concerns. He was appointed in 2016 and ran for election in 2017.
“We’ve done a lot of things on the city council in the last three years (since) I’ve been there,” Medlin said. “Our main waterline that we have coming into town from Highway 182… all the way into Stephens Street I think it was put in there back in the ‘80s. That is the main waterline coming into the city and we need to have a spare line. If not, we’re going to be in trouble. So we passed a $2.2 million bond with a 20-year pay note to get that done. I think for me the infrastructure of the town is probably the most important thing, and I would like to see that project finished.”
Medlin is a Quitman High School and Texas A&M graduate. He runs the company Medlin Electric in Quitman with his cousin.
Medlin said his best skill is being able to listen to others before giving an opinion.
“I don’t have an agenda. I’m not a career politician; never claimed to be, never wanted to be. I want to listen to see what I can do,” Medlin said. “Sometimes I’m limited as to what I can do, but I will do everything I possibly can. If I don’t have an answer, I’ll get you an answer.”
Medlin expressed the need to collect unpaid debt from those not paying municipal court fines.
“We’ve got a lot of people that have unpaid debt from fines that haven’t been paid. We’ve worked with the police department in the last years of trying to round some of this up. A lot of the money that we could be gaining in the city we’re not gaining.”
Medlin was asked about the reporting structure of Quitman Development Corp. (QDC). He stated that the QDC and city should work more collaboratively.
“As it is now, we give money to the QDC and they have their own board. That can be the same, but I think it should be reporting to the city. Sometimes there’s a lot of communication and sometimes there is disconnect,” Medlin said. “So in my opinion, the QDC board and the city need to come together to come up with a plan and have everything under one roof.”
Medlin ended his remarks saying he’s enjoyed learning about the city’s government.
“I want to continue to learn the inner workings of the city government. And again, I want to see some of these city projects we’ve got underway, assuming the weather cooperates,” Medlin stated. “I want to see those things through.”
Raney, a four-year Quitman resident, voiced concern about infrastructure and taxes.
“There are a number of things that need attention. The infrastructure is one important thing. I also look around the room and I see a lot of older folks. I think our tax structures need to be taken a look at,” Raney said.
According to Raney, he would bring an outsider’s perspective to the council.
“My difference (between other candidates) is I have a lot of worldly experience. I have an open mind. I also have a very analytical mind,” Raney said. “And with those two things in my favor, I think that is the difference for me and I’d love to be your alderman.”
Raney said his experience living in Irving allowed him to see growth opportunities daily. He would like to see those opportunities come to Quitman. He would like to see growth of the entire city, not just growth benefiting a few individuals or companies.
In terms of skills for governing, Raney told the crowd he would communicate and be responsible to the people he works for. In closing, Raney said he hopes to improve the council with his life experiences.
“I loved the city the first time I drove through it,” Raney said. “I would love to sit on the city council, and I believe that with my experiences I would like to help this town.”
See next week’s Monitor for the mayoral responses.