Three-term council member Chris Williams is defending his seat against one challenger for the Mexico City council. He spoke about his successes Thursday at a candidate forum held by the Mexico-Audrain League of Women Voters. His opponent, Joshua Price, was not in attendance.
“One of the things I take pride in is … everything I have said I wanted to run on, every time, I have gotten accomplished,” he said. “I believe if you’re going to run for something, then you want to change something and make something better.”
Forum moderator Alice Leonattie asked the candidates to describe two issues the council will face in the upcoming term.
The city pool is the No. 1 question facing the city, Williams said. “It’s had to be shut down several times over the past few years,” he said, adding people and other groups have come to the council with concerns over maintenance.
The city is just patching the pool’s problems, which is getting more expensive as the years progress, Williams said. So, as a means to make updates to the facility, the city budget has included a savings line-item for pool improvements or replacement for the past several years, he said.
“(This is) so we don’t have to come to you the citizens and say, ‘We don’t have any money. We want to build a pool. Give us money,’” Williams said. “We’re not Chesterfield. We don’t have a lot of people in our community that can afford a high tax rate, so we’re just doing our due diligence by saving back.”
The pool upgrades or replacement is expected to happen sometime in the next three years, Williams said.
An audience member asked Williams about city funding for recreational areas and activities within Mexico city limits.
If funding allowed, the city could do a lot more, Williams said. “I would like to see more public-private partnerships,” he said. “Unfortunately, the city doesn’t have a lot of extra money. We don’t ask for a lot and we don’t just have it sitting around.”
The city is not at liberty to provide some recreational activities or the tax breaks to encourage recreation centers to build within the city. “We can’t go out and build a skating ring. That’s outside of our purview as a government agency,” Williams said.
Even though the city can’t do everything citizens would like, a parks tax is allowing for the replacement of playground equipment, he said.
Business development also was a concern of the audience. They wanted to know how the city will entice more business to come to Mexico.
Williams countered this question by discussing Mexico’s unemployment rate. “If you don’t have a job right now, pretty much in Mexico, you don’t really want a job. Everybody in town is hiring,” he said.
In the past businesses have not come to Mexico because there were not enough employment opportunities, he said. Williams conceded available jobs may not be high paying.