Candidates gather for forum
By DAVID J. HARDIN
Copperas Cove Public Library played host to the first candidate forum for the November 3 city elections. Candidates for mayor and city council were in attendance to include mayoral candidates Frank Seffrood and Gary Kent, city council candidates for place 1, Azeita Taylor, David Morris, and Alonso Taylor; Place 2, James A. Pierce Jr. and incumbent Mark Peterson; and place 3, Dan Yancey and Michael Loven.
The forum was a chance for Copperas Cove residents to ask questions and get an understanding of how these candidates stand on the issues. The master of ceremonies was Tony Smith, and after the pledge of the allegiance, the format was announced.
Smith said, “You may ask a question and then every candidate will have a chance to respond.”
One question asked was about the influx of drugs. A concerned citizen, Stephen Seacrest, and fellow neighbors had come before the Copperas Cove City Council asking for help with a serious problem of drug houses in their area. Seacrest said he had told the council there were four drugs houses within a two-block radius. He also went on to say multiple arrests are made on a daily basis at these houses. He added that the council had not taken any action on the matter, and had let the issue fall on deaf ears due to bad advisement. Seacrest put the following question in front of the candidates.
“What would you do to fix this issue?” he asked.
Michael Loven: “Education is the number one way to stop a drug problem in this community and with the introduction of harder drugs into the city, then education is the only way to prevent a drug problem, and the police can’t be everywhere.”
Dan Yancey: “Did you reach out to the district attorney. Seacrest replied, “Yes, because the city manager would not do anything, I have tried to get someone to help us. The district attorney and not the city attorney has been giving us help.” Yancey replied with support for what Seacrest is doing.
“One of the things that I would do as mayor, is set up a town hall meeting of citizens, business leaders, and community leaders, first responders, so that everyone involved can give critical feedback,” said Gary Kent. “As a member of law enforcement, I understand what the citizens of Cove go through. I would not want a drug house being next door to me. Until we stand up and say enough is enough as a community, then no drug house will be able to stand in Copperas Cove, these citizens are doing something.”
Frank Seffrood: “I believe that with a coordinated effort between law enforcement, as well as state agencies and citizens of Copperas Cove who are giving statements and collect the proper evidence needed, so that these drug houses can be eradicated.”
Mark Peterson: “As a council we do set policies that deal with these types of things and that is our job as a council, however our job as a council is not to interfere with the day-to-day operations of running the city. It is up to the city manager and directors of the city. They have made arrests at those houses and it may not be adequate to your liking but we have been advised by our city attorney, and he is working with the district attorney, so we are working on the problem. We understand that your neighborhood is not the only one, and more and more cities are having to deal with this issue. We must make a concerted effort each and every day to the combat this problem the best way we can.”
James A. Pierce Jr.: “Education is important. Drugs are a part of society, and it is key that education begins at home with parents who are looking out for their children, teenagers, and or adults, and helping prevent drug use.”
David Morris: “Education is key, we have got to make sure we are informing our law enforcement, and our citizens. Our citizens are our eyes and ears out there, and our police force is not omnipresent, they need the help of the citizens. You have been working hard to make more people aware of the situation. We should do more as a council to provide activities for our youth, so they do not get caught up in drugs at an early age.”
Alonso Taylor: “I commend you for coming forward Mr. Seacrest to tackle this issue. “I will tell you as a leader I will never turn my back on you that is a promise. We collectively as a council, as a community, as an agency within our city have to come together to battle your interests, and they are our interests as well. We have to take care of your concerns, as your council member, I will stand beside you.”
Azeita Taylor: “There are many drug homes in Copperas Cove, and people may not see it or want to see it but it exists. City council cannot enforce the law, however they can get behind citizens and help them create programs like neighborhood watches. I want to create small neighborhood groups so that they can come together an address these issues. If we don’t do something, then we will not eradicate the drug problems that we face each and every day in our community of Copperas Cove.”
As the forum continued the candidates did a good job in addressing some of the issues, however time was running out and not a lot of questions were answered. Among the other questions asked were: What are you going to do to be a good steward of the taxpayers money, and how do you feel about the current tax rate in Copperas Cove? How do we attract more businesses, grow our local economy? What would you do to help improve the parks, so that our kids can have a place to go and play? If you are elected, would you be able to vote against friends who own businesses in Cove and off 190, or will it be a conflict of interest?
When the candidates were asked how the forum went, the general consensus was very good. They pointed out that it is important for citizens to ask the tough questions, and hold elected leaders accountable. They all hope the next forum will go well, which will give them once again an opportunity to let the voters of Copperas Cove know how they stand on the issues. The next forum will be October 17 at VFW Post 8577.