CORINTH — The election in Corinth places City Council member Bruce Hanson and newcomer Mike Amason against each other in a race for the Place 5 seat.
Both candidates have similar goals that call for the city to prepare for growth and connect with and listen to its residents.
The race for Place 5 is the only contested one in Corinth this May. The other remaining candidates — Mayor Paul Ruggiere and Place 2 council member Jim Mayfield — ran unopposed.
Hanson, 47, an engineer, said one reason he’s seeking re-election is because residents deserve someone who pays attention to details and can be an advocate for every person.
Amason, 32, a pilot instructor, doesn’t have any experience serving on a municipal council, but he said he believes the council needs to act more fiscally responsible and needs younger representation that can connect with a demographic of Corinth that is ignored.
The election is May 11. Early voting begins Monday.
Hanson said he has a knack for paying attention to detail and asking questions that go beyond scratching the surface of an issue.
“It’s like they always say, ‘the devil is in the details,’” he said.
He said that when a council member can ask the right questions, it’s easier to communicate with residents and businesses. It’s also easier to find solutions to common problems and set goals.
“I have experience and I want to do whatever I can to get every person involved to make this city a better place,” he said.
“The work is never done. We’re always working to make sure the city is meeting the needs of its people.”
Growing up in North Texas, Hanson said his parents always made it a point for him to vote and to act instead of react.
“I did a lot of complaining and I was told, ‘if you want to make a difference, run for council,’” he said. “I got lucky the first time because I ran unopposed, but this has been very rewarding so far.”
Hanson said he makes it a priority to make sure the city’s budget stays balanced, that debt stays in check and that services are well staffed to meet residents’ needs.
In September while the city was approving its budget, Hanson pushed to allocate $145,000 to the police department to add two police officer positions.
Despite opposition by the mayor and two other council members, the item was approved by a 3-2 vote.
Mayor Paul Ruggerie said the city wasn’t in a financial position to add two positions without assurance they could be funded, but Hanson argued that he saw a need based on data presented by the police department.
Adding the new positions forced council members to raise the tax rate or risk dependence on the fund balance to pay for the positions each year.
Hanson also pushed for rewriting the city gas well ordinances and assisting the Economic Development Corporation with an effort to lure more businesses to Corinth.
“Some of these items that we deal with as a council are tough — very tough,” he said. “But they are rewarding when the dust settles. What I do on council is never for me. It’s for the people.”
Amason said he considers himself to be a fresh face who residents will be better able to connect with because he represents a demographic that isn’t present on the council.
He said that by being a husband with three children, he can not only relate to his target demographic, but also give them a voice.
“We have a council that’s older and I don’t think they connect with the residents well,” he said. “Corinth widely does not represent the current demographics.”
According to the 2010 census, approximately 30 percent of Corinth’s voting age population is younger than 36.
“I think people would prefer to see someone on council who represents their demographic because more than likely, we share the same concerns,” he said.
Like his opponent, Amason said he will work on bringing in more commercial and retail developers to build more businesses in the city limits.
“We are a bedroom community and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but we don’t have anything to keep our residents here,” he said. “We have a window of opportunity to capitalize on with the many different road projects that are coming up.”
Amason said he wants to ensure the council doesn’t miss that opportunity. He has a master’s degree in business and says he has the knowledge to help the city manage its finances and prepare for future growth.
To make up for his lack of experience on the council, Amason said he is brushing up on city ordinances, meeting with residents to learn what concerns them the most and reviewing city minutes.
Amason said there is a need to make the city’s parks a priority and to form a resident-led budget committee that would allow residents to give input on how the city’s budget is shaped.
“There’s a lack of connection and I believe most residents have an apathy for government because of the lack of that connection. That’s something we can fix,” he said.
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.