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Bilyeu faces two challengers for Sanger Place 2 position

Profile image for By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe
By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe

Incumbent Gary Bilyeu faces two challengers in his bid for a third term in Place 2 on the Sanger City Council, the only one of three seats up on the May 10 ballot where voters will have a choice of candidates.

Joe Falls, 78, a retired rural mail carrier and rancher, and chiropractor Chris Prock, 30, are both vying to unseat Bilyeu, 43, an insurance salesman. All three men agree that growth is on the horizon for this city of 7,000 near the Denton and Cooke county lines.

No one has challenged Mayor Thomas Muir in his bid for a third term. He was first elected mayor in 2010 after serving three years on the City Council. The 44-year-old investment adviser served previously on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission and on its economic development board.

Nor has anyone challenged incumbent Allen Chick, 50, also a financial adviser, in his re-election bid for Place 4.

Early voting begins Monday and ends May 6.

In Sanger, voters can cast early ballots at the First Baptist Church, 708 S. Fifth St.

As the economy recovers and the southern part of the county continues its rapid growth, all three candidates say they see future residents, as well as businesses and developers, looking up Interstate 35 to Sanger for the next place to grow in Denton County.

Falls said that some planning can look like wishful thinking unless important questions about infrastructure get answered. He points to his age and experience as a longtime resident as an asset for the city.

“I’ve got experience with Sanger’s problems,” Falls said. “I’m a planner, not a dreamer, and I can vocalize those plans.”

Growth may not happen the way the city is planning, but Falls said he’s pro-growth.

His top priorities for Sanger include improving the streets and sewer system and advocating a user-friendly atmosphere that encourages orderly business growth in northern Denton County.

Prock said that, as a businessman and president of the Sanger Chamber of Commerce, he sees addressing the city’s infrastructure needs as critical to being ready for growth.

“The streets are No. 1 — that’s tops with people here,” Prock said.

He said he offers the council some young blood and energy.

“When I see a problem, I offer a solution — I get to work to see the solution and do what needs to be done,” Prock said.

His top priorities for Sanger include maintaining constant communication with residents, including gathering information in a communitywide survey, and establishing a strong infrastructure so the city can be ready for growth.

Bilyeu said he has worked with fellow council members for several years to update ordinances and implement a capital improvement program that has positioned the city for growth for the next 20 to 30 years. That includes providing for much-needed improvements to the city’s sewer treatment plant.

Sanger can be friendly to new business in a way that larger cities may not be, he said.

“We have a solid foundation, and we have the people to see it through,” Bilyeu said. “I can talk to business owners about our capabilities. I can communicate that.”

His top priorities for the city include continuing the city’s financial strength and capital improvement plan and maintaining a low tax rate for residents.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.