Wanted: A new leader for Azle, a community of about 10,000 straddling the Tarrant and Parker county line.
Since Mayor Russ Braudis announced that he wouldn't seek a third term, the race has been on to fill the post, prompting a crowded May 14 ballot.
Two candidates seek to replace him: Place 1 Councilman Alan Brundrett and retired Decatur school district facility manager Bill Montes.
Three political newcomers hope to fill Brundrett's Place 1 seat: William Chambers, John Heath and Kevin Ingle. Two council incumbents -- Paul Crabtree in Place 4 and June B. Earp in Place 6 -- drew opponents, Chad Geeslin and Jeff Wise, respectively. Place 3 Councilman Bill Jones is unopposed.
Each term is two years. The mayor is paid $600 a year; council members are paid a $20-per-month stipend.
Azle residents will also be asked to decide whether to continue the quarter-cent crime control and prevention district sales tax.
Here's a look at the contested races:
Brundrett, 35, an insurance agent, has served on the council for eight years. A key issue, he said, is the city's economy. "With the current economy down, all of our revenues are down," he said. "We are striving to provide the same level of services to the community with less income to do so." He said officials should keep trying to attract businesses to boost tax revenue and offer residents more services. He said that he's worried about teen drug and alcohol use, but believes that continuing the crime control tax will provide money for prevention programs.
Montes, 51, said he has never run for office. "My goal when I retired was to put 100 percent into the town of Azle, simply because the City Council has ignored a whole lot of issues." Chief among those, he said, is flooding that has affected some homes. Montes said in his neighborhood alone, some houses are developing foundation problems because of the way water flows. He also said it's crucial for the city to attract businesses and fill vacant storefronts. Montes would also like to focus on street repairs and building sidewalks in neighborhoods that have none.
Chambers, 49, a physician, runs a family practice in Azle. In campaign advertising, he said the council seat isn't as much a political post as a way to help the city grow. "I'm really interested in seeing appropriate growth in Azle through appropriate business growth so that Azle develops a better tax base here," he said.
Heath, 60, said he thinks the City Council has for too long served as a rubber stamp for the city manager. "I'm just seeing some things being done in Azle, and I'm hoping I'll have the influence to get them changed," said Heath, a purchasing director for a home builder.
Ingle, 48, is an assistant vice president for GM Financial in Fort Worth. He earned a Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Arlington last year. "I'm interested in trying to bring more business, more manufacturing, more jobs to Azle to improve the tax base," Ingle said.
Crabtree, 43, a CPA, is seeking his third term on the council. "I'm running for office because I think I can bring a common-sense and businesslike approach to making decisions that will affect how our city serves its citizens and how the city is perceived by others outside the city," he said. "I want to see Azle grow and prosper." Priorities include attracting businesses, redeveloping the Main Street area and promoting economic development.
Geeslin, 29, a student pastor at The Church at Azle, is making his first bid for public office "because I have a strong desire to better the community of Azle and to help the citizens in any way I can." He said he'd like to see city leaders recruit bigger businesses and restaurants to boost tax revenue for schools. He would also like city leaders to find a better way to notify residents when water goes out, as happened last year.
Earp, 58, has served on the council since 2003 and said she's seeking re-election to try to keep the city on the path it is now on. "I believe we need to stay on course; as they say, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it,'" she said. "Can we still ... improve on how we do some things? You bet we can, and I for one am working on some ideas for that." She said priorities should be attracting commercial and industrial businesses, working to address major flooding problems and trying to give city employees a pay raise.
Wise, 45, a transportation manager for the Azle school district, said he believes that he can help the city. "I would like to see the city of Azle benefit from the growth that the surrounding cities are enjoying, while retaining its small-city charm," he said. He wants residents to have more opportunities to express their opinions and concerns. And he said the biggest issue facing the city is the lack of growth and the lack of tax revenue that comes from growth.
Staff writer Aman Batheja contributed to this report.
Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610