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Mayoral candidate Sweet reveals at debate four current Council members now support his bid

Rockwall mayoral candidate and two-term City Council member David Sweet (above left) revealed that he now has the support of current Mayor Bill Cecil and City Council members Mark Russo, Matt Scott and Cliff Sevier to become the City’s next mayor during Saturday night’s hour-long mayoral debate hosted by the Rockwall County Young Republicans at Rockwall High School.

He then challenged remaining Council member Margo Nielsen in front of the crowd of about 75 people “to get on the train” and support him, as well.

After the debate she stated that she does not intend to endorse either Sweet, current two-term Council member Glen Farris (above right) or former three-term Council member Sam Buffington (no photo is available).

“I’ll work with any of them,” she said, adding that it makes her feel uncomfortable when candidates press her for her support.

Farris also revealed that he has received the endorsement of the MetroTex Realtors Association, which is comprised of thousands of real estate agents across Dallas-Ft. Worth.

Throughout the debate, which was moderated by Rockwall Criminal District Attorney Kenda Culpepper, all three candidates stressed their experience in government, business and service in the community.

Only two jabs seemed to be taken – one by Sweet against Farris and one by Farris against Sweet.

After Sweet outlined his experience of working in management positions for four of the largest companies in the world – being responsible for multi-million dollar budgets and as many as 100 employees – plus his Council and community service, Farris stated that Sweet is a “fine man” but that his experience “pales in comparison” to his own.

Farris then explained that he has more experience after serving two terms on the City Council, on numerous government sub-committees, as Chairman of the Rockwall Chamber of Commerce Board, plus as a business owner in landscaping, website-building and another for the past 32 years.

“I’m the only candidate that’s owned a business,” he said. “I’m the only candidate who has continued to educate himself” by attending classes about government. I’m the only candidate that has brought a convention to Rockwall,” referring to the Kiwanis State Convention which he brought to the Bella Hilton Harbor Hotel last year, which attracted 1,000 people to “eat and shop” in Rockwall.

Farris explained that since moving here in 1999, he has prepared himself to become the mayor of Rockwall.

“I have known since I was an Eagle Scout that I would become a leader among men,” he said.

 

After Farris said that Rockwall needs to be marketed to bring more businesses but that the City must simultaneously keep its standards high, Sweet accused Farris of not being “business-friendly” enough.

Sweet cited several examples of how he felt Farris had made it difficult for businesses, including the In-N-Out Burger sign, the red box at 7-11 and a problem at Walgreen’s.

Sweet said “Being business-friendly is being citizen-friendly,” and later added that as mayor he will work to “knock out the bureaucratic process” at City Hall to help more businesses to relocate and start up in Rockwall.

“It is extremely important to be business-friendly at City Hall,” said the Council member, stating that the City needs to further develop the medical corridor, as well as retail and other business.

Buffington referred several times to the importance of the Rockwall Economic Development Council which he was able to help organize during his years on the City Council. He agreed that the City and REDC must continue to solicit business for the future vitality of the community.

In response to what Rockwall’s number one issue is, whereas Sweet and Farris only mentioned bringing more businesses to the City, Buffington was the only one who suggested that illegal drugs is a serious problem and that police must be supported in their efforts to arrest drug dealers.

Each candidate was asked the four same questions during the debate, three of which were provided to the candidates in advance. The fourth was asked on the spot, requiring an impromptu response. The questions were:

  1. What methods, if any, would you consider to generate funds without raising taxes?
  2. Why are you the most qualified to be the Mayor of Rockwall?
  3. How do you utilize citizens’ feedback when making decisions?
  4. What is the #1 issue in Rockwall today and how will you handle it?

Additional mayoral debates will be held April 19, 7 pm, at Rockwall High School, hosted by TheRockwallNews.com; and April 21, 6:30 pm, at the Old County Courthouse, hosted by the Rockwall County Republican Women.

Election day is May 14.

By J.J. Smith, Publisher

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