SGA host Q&A with running Huntsville City Council candidates

Photo courtesy of Jacob Courtney

With the Walker County General election nearing, the Sam Houston State University Student Government Association held a meeting on Monday, inviting the five running candidates to an open Q&A, where they shared insight on how they would address city issues.

The candidates include:

  • City Council member for Ward 3 Blake Irving for Mayor of Huntsville
  • Mayor Andy Brauninger running for reelection
  • Council Member for Ward 1 Daiquiri Beebe for reelection
  • Assistant Athletic Director for SHSU Trevor Thorn for Council Member of Ward 3
  • Deloris Massey for Council Member of Ward 3

The candidates were given the opportunity to answer submitted questions by Sam Houston State University students.

Here are questions that were asked and how candidates answered:

How do you plan to improve external communication to all Huntsville residents, such as Sam Houston students?

  • City Council member Irving: “Something they [fraternity members] told me was just general email. I am a student myself, so I get plenty of emails from the school that I attend. So, I think that is another avenue that the city of Huntsville could reach out to Sam Houston.”
  • Mayor Brauninger: “Communication is a two-way street. If you want to know something, ask.”

Mayor Brauninger mentioned the city’s efforts to improve its website design and digital signs in Huntsville. His solutions are more student interviews and forums with City Council.

  • City Council member Beebe: “One area we can improve is by getting information from the Houstonian and on a regular basis provides an update to the students.”
  • Thorn: “I think we are doing a good job reaching the citizens of Huntsville. I think the key is the students of Sam Houston.”
  • Massey: “There is a lot of people in Huntsville that we have to reach. And do we have the answer, the overall answer, to reach all of the people of Huntsville? I don’t think we do. We just have to do the best that we can to get the word out for them to know what is going on in their own city.”

What’s more important for our city right now: building new homes and commercial space or rehabbing/expanding/better utilizing our existing homes and storefront?

  • City Council member Irving: “The city could make revitalization zones where we pick out specific areas of town and offer developers incentives to come in and help turn these houses into livable houses. And these old businesses that have left town to bring them up to code and open again so we can generate more revenue.”
  • Mayor Brauninger: “People from the southern part of our state and all over our state have really discovered Huntsville, Texas. And Huntsville, Texas is going to continue to grow.”
  • City Council member Beebe: “The fact that we have thousands of new homes being built in Huntsville is a tremendous opportunity who live here. As more homes are built here and more people are homeowners, commercial space will follow.”
  • Thorn: “I’m not sure if you can say one is more important than the other. If I’m a developer, I don’t think it is your duty, my duty, anyone’s duty to say this is how you spend your money. I think this when you get into people not wanting to invest in this community.”

He said he wants to use incentives to build and renovate to not lose money and give back to the community. With more built, rent and house prices will go down.

  • Massey: “Sometimes, I believe, the City of Huntsville acts like the money has left earth. The money is still here, it’s all here. We just need to find smart people with ideas, and we have them right here in Huntsville, we just have to find them, that can come up with plans on how to get the money for the people who can’t build new homes, that wants to remodel their home that is on their property to make life better for them.”

According to the Huntsville City Comprehensive Plan, 34.4% of the Huntsville population is below the poverty level, how will you use your platform to support this marginalized group?

  • City Council member Irving: “If we can help bring jobs into Huntsville that is a way to help people help themselves.”
  • Mayor Brauninger: “This city is absolutely full of loving, caring and helping people that will go out of their way to volunteer, that will go out of their way to help some who needs help.”
  • City Council member Beebe: “We could better support the Huntsville Housing Authority. They provide a wonderful service to the people of our community.”
  • Thorn: “I think there is a lot that can be done that help those at that poverty line or slightly above it. That poverty line is very misleading. Take two people at the poverty line, one slightly above and one below, the one above has five children, the one below has zero.”
  • Massey: “A lot of times people have resources that they don’t even know they have. It’s like they say ‘there is something in your kitchen that you can use that you can heal certain things in your body.’”

The Walker County General election will be held on Nov. 2, 2021. The deadline for registering to vote in this election will be Oct. 4.

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