Several candidates who are running in Bedford’s three contested council races want to focus on bringing in more businesses and on improving the city’s appearance.
On May 6, voters will decide who will serve in Places 3, 4 and 6.
Jeannette Cook, a senior analyst for American Airlines, Oliver Kite, a retired computer analyst, and Amy Sabol, a retired business owner, are vying for the Place 3 seat. The winner will serve out the remaining term of Councilman Ray Champney, who died of lung cancer.
In Place 4, incumbent Michael Boyter is running against Charles Tyson, an architect, and in Place 6, Lisa Roberson, an occupational therapist, is running against incumbent Roger Fisher, president of Qualtex.
Cook, 55, who has served on Bedford’s parks board for 15 years, said she thinks that the current council is doing a good job but that it lacks a female perspective.
“We need some women on the council who can bring diversity and fresh ideas,” she said.
Cook said she wants to help plan future improvements at the Boys Ranch Park. Work has been completed on redesigning the lake by adding a fishing pier, stone bridges and pavilions.
She also wants the city to look at creative ways of bringing in new businesses since Bedford is surrounded by other cities and cannot grow in size.
Cook said encouraging both small businesses and larger companies such as an H-E-B grocery store to locate in Bedford will help bring in more tax dollars.
Maintaining the city’s aging streets and water lines is also important, she said.
Kite, 71, said he thinks the city is being run smoothly but he wants to get involved in the community since he is retired.
Cleaning up areas of Bedford is also important, he said.
Sabol, 60, who has served on the community affairs and building standards commissions, said she wants to help plan for Bedford’s future.
“Bedford is blocked in by other cities around us. We have to be very careful with the 2 percent of what we have left. We have to do what our residents want us to do,” she said.
Sabol said she also wants to make sure that the city’s aging apartment complexes are well maintained.
Improving the parks is also an important priority, she said.
In Place 4, Tyson, 59, said more needs to be done to make Bedford a “destination.”
“We should do more than just sleep in Bedford. I don’t like just being a residential community,” he said.
Tyson said more needs to be done to get the word out about what Bedford has to offer. Although many use social media, Tyson said the city needs to reach out more to older people who don’t use Facebook or Twitter to keep up with what goes on in Bedford.
Tyson added that he is disappointed that Bedford no longer allows people to feed the ducks at the Boys Ranch Lake Park and questioned why the city didn’t provide special food so that people could enjoy feeding the ducks.
Boyter, his opponent, was first elected to the City Council in 2012 and said economic development is at the top of his list of priorities.
“I want to step back and look at a bigger picture for Bedford, which means 10 to 20 years down the road,” he said.
Boyter said city officials tend to plan for a year at a time and need to explore options for the city’s future.
“We need to be much more aggressive about how we’re developing and bringing in more businesses,” Boyter said.
He added that Bedford doesn’t have “glaring issues” and that the city needs to focus on ongoing improvements at the Boys Ranch Park, which dates to the 1940s. He praised the completion of the first phase.
In Place 6, Fisher, 36, said he is seeking another term because he wants to work on redeveloping Bedford. Fisher said offering homeowners incentives to improve their property would help rejuvenate Bedford.
Like the other candidates, Fisher said he wants to be involved with the plans to continue improving the Boys Ranch Park. Fisher said he also wants to continue working on the Bedford Commons development, and recently, Home2 Suites announced that it will build a hotel — the first project for the development near City Hall.
“There is no doubt that the hotel will be a catalyst for further development,” he said.
Fisher said Bedford Commons should be a destination where people are encouraged to walk to shops and restaurants.
Fisher said he has worked to revamp the sign ordinance, which helps improve aesthetics.
“There is a lot more to do in that regard. People come home from a long day at work and they want to drive through a place they are proud to call home,” he said.
Roberson, 44, who is running for the first time, said Bedford needs to do more to help people with disabilities.
Roberson said children with disabilities such as cerebral palsy can’t use the play equipment at the city’s parks because there are obstacles like wood chips and potholes that prevent them from getting their wheelchairs close to the playground.
“People have to drive to different cities so that their children can play,” she said.
Roberson said that more needs to be done to clean up trash in the city and that code enforcement should be more helpful to property owners.
Roberson said she received a citation for high weeds but a home on her street in foreclosure was not cited.
“Code enforcement seems to be very inconsistent,” she said. “It feels like a ‘Big Brother’ homeowners association. Why not say, ‘Hey is everything OK.’ There should be more concern in the community and not a police environment where you feel that they are slapping you with violations.”