City Council and mayoral candidates were given the chance to speak about their ideas Monday night during a forum at the First Baptist Church.
Crime and economic development topped the list across the board for the candidates as each one answered a series of questions from Leadership Roswell Alumni Association’s Rick Kraft.
The forum was broadcast on Cable One’s channel 75 and will be rebroadcast at 6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. The program can also be streamed starting today on Leadership Roswell’s website at lraa.info/.
“The questions were put together by a candidate forum committee,” Kraft said. “None of the questions have been told to candidates ahead of time.”
Candidates from each ward were given an opportunity to answer a series of questions about their visions for the city and thoughts about important issues.
Mayor Del Jurney and mayoral candidate Dennis Kintigh ended the evening.
Jurney listed off a series of achievements he, the council and city staff had achieved in the past four years.
“Each of these individual (accomplishments) are noteworthy. Each tells a story of strong confident leadership,” Jurney said.
Jurney said better days are yet to come. He was looking forward to aggressively pursuing the downtown master plan, the convention center, neighborhood parks and family-friendly activities, and possibly a theme park.
“Roswell is a great community and a great place to call home,” Jurney said. “This is not the time to change the city’s leadership.”
Kintigh stressed his experience in law enforcement as a way to deal with crime and therefore economic development in Roswell.
“Public safety is the foundation on which you can build economic development,” Kintigh said. We together as a community need to make this a safe and clean city. To attempt to do otherwise is to put the proverbial cart before the horse.
“We’ve got a problem. The problem is public safety,” Kintigh said. “We must confront it. I recognize the challenge and I’m prepared to face it. The airport is a tremendous asset. It’s under-utilized and not reaching its full potential.
“I’m a bold person. I will not sit back. I will strive to make this the best possible community in the Southwest.”
Kintigh said to deal with crime, Roswell needs to admit “we have a problem.” The city needs to work to retain officers, he said.
“In the last three years, we’ve lost 48 sworn officers. That’s more than half the department,” Kintigh said. “We’ve been able to recruit, we’ve not been able to retain.”
The city needs to look at code enforcement and remove derelict structures, he said.
“Appearance affects behavior,” he said. “If we have that, it will change our reputation.”
Jurney said there was no question Roswell had progressed to a point that there was a problem.
“I don’t think anybody hides that,” Jurney said. “What we’re not looking at is the progress being made. The steps being taken. The officers dedicating themselves. We’re not giving them the credit they deserve. … We need to start staying in the positive direction we’re headed in at this time.”
The city is looking to reduce the crime that takes place in the areas most prone to crime, he said.
In the area of economic development, Jurney pointed to the growth in the aerospace business at the Roswell International Air Center. Kintigh said oil and gas, agriculture, aviation and tourism were the area’s economic strengths. Oil drilling in the Permian Basin presents potential, he said.