Longtime Sansom Park city leaders face challenges from newcomers

Posted Wednesday, May. 01, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Beautifying Sansom Park and fixing the small city’s pothole-pocked streets are key issues in two contested City Council races.

Sansom Park is home to about 4,700 residents. The city encompasses only about 1.2 square miles, wedged between Fort Worth and Lake Worth in the Northwest Loop 820 corridor.

Tanja Gregory, a 10-year incumbent in Place 4 on the council, faces a challenge in the May 11 election from Alan Small, a teacher and political newcomer who has lived in the city for four years.

Gregory, 51, said the city has made progress in fixing streets, with a combination of city and county funds and a donation from Chesapeake Energy. Gregory said the current council is focusing on potholes, median landscaping and other similar efforts, especially along Jacksboro Highway. There is even talk about building a roundabout on the highway, which connects the city from north to south.

“We’ve done a lot over the past five or 10 years, but there are some roads that still need it very badly,” said Gregory, who works for the Castleberry school district.

But Small said city leaders aren’t putting enough effort into fixing streets and adding street signs. He said the city is misplacing its effort on issues such as refurbishing city buildings and renting a bingo hall. He said a water line near his home has burst repeatedly.

“Our city budget is tight, so we probably should not be refurbishing City Hall,” he said.

For Place 5, incumbent Crystal Harris faces a challenge from Roger Chavez, a former councilman who has lived in the city 23 years.

Harris, 40, has been on the council since 2008. An office manager, Harris said the city is in the midst of a major transformation that includes building a new city hall, police station and fire station and landscaping thoroughfares.

The effort has been helped by low-interest loans to fix the city’s waterworks, and a state grant to improve aesthetics, she said. A key goal, she said, is luring new businesses to Sansom Park.

“These initiatives have been successful in large part because our council works well together and shares a common vision for the city’s future,” she said.

But Chavez, 47, a consultant, said that the city’s improvements aren’t being made with a long-term vision.

He said he has more than 20 years of experience in city government, “ranging from maintenance worker to mayor pro-tem.”

“We have an opportunity to build communities that will benefit generations instead of short-lived spikes of prosperity,” he said.

One other City Council seat was also up for grabs this year. Veteran councilman Jim Barnett is running for that Place 3 position unopposed.

Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796 Twitter: @gdickson

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