The Daily News asked readers what questions they’d ask of the candidates running for city council and mayor.

The invitation was and is intended for all city and school elections in the county. Most of the replies have come from Galveston, where campaigns for City Council have heated up in a hurry.

Some of the questions we’ve received will be asked Wednesday at a candidates forum at Ball High School. Others will be part of the newspaper’s online questionnaire, which has become a staple of all elections in the county.

We think these questions are important. Perhaps if you look at some samples you’ll see why.

• After Hurricane Ike, the council raised the tax rate but promised to lower it when the property values recovered. The tax base has recovered. What do you plan to do?

• Are you going let the city manager run the city? If a council member calls or emails the city manager, should the manager be instructed to inform all the members?

• How will you handle conflicts of interest? Will you discuss and vote on matters that involve companies in which you or your family members have a financial stake in?

• The expenses for the police officers hired to enforce the seawall parking plan are so steep there’s going to be little money left over for improvements, such as restrooms, drinking fountains and showers. Can those expenses be billed to the general fund?

• Everybody seems to have a design on the Convention Center Surplus Fund, and it’s being frittered away in small bites. Where could that money do the most good?

• Do you have a plan for a trolley system? If so, where should the lion’s share of the money to come from — hotel occupancy tax or the general fund?

Those are good, thoughtful questions. And the people who are seeking to represent should have a better answer than “I’ll study it.”

Here’s the point we hope you’ll see in this process:

Often, candidates define the public agenda. They tell you, the voter, what they want to do.

It’s better when informed voters play a role in setting the agenda. It’s better when you, as a voter, have an agenda in mind before you begin looking at the candidates.

Informed voters find good candidates who share their agenda just by asking good questions.


At a glance

WHAT: Galveston City Council/Mayoral forum

WHEN: 5:45 p.m. Wednesday

WHERE: Ball High School auditorium, 4115 Ave. O, in Galveston

SUBMIT QUESTIONS: Readers can submit questions to candidates in all of the county’s municipal or school elections by emailing letters@galvnews.com. In the subject line write “Election Questions.”

(4) comments

Ted Wagner

For consideration, Heber:

Citizens are provided basic services, such as water, and trust monthly costs are billed accurately.

In late 2013, the City of Galveston announced that water usage for some has been estimated, due to water meter issues. The announced solution involved a multi-party approach:

1) Physically fix/repair the individual affected meters (5000+ ?),
2) Manual meter reading, and
3) A 'true-up" in the billing process, adjusting where estimates Vs actual were skewed.
(note: individual citizens were not notified by the City their meters were affected by this issue, as I understand)

With such a pervasive problem, and a multi-party solution where one entity may not be fully informed of the overall status, will individual citizens be informed of the date when their meters have been repaired, and when City has completed the "true-up" process? (or that their meter was never affected)?

As part of the commitment to provide reliable and accurate services to its citizens, Is it reasonable for citizens to expect that the City has accountability to inform individual citizens of their meter/billing status, given how extensive the issues have been?

Steve Fouga

And here's something odd: for the past several months, even though I always pay my water bill the day I receive it, there is always an amount in arrears. It's like they can't catch me up, no matter what! I called to complain, and they refused to believe I had paid on time. I called the following month when the same thing happened, and they just told me to ignore the arrears amount in the future. So that's what I'm doing...

Ted Wagner

I had questions, and sent emails to BMaxwell, PublicWorks, copying MRobb & the Mayor, given the complexity of the issue & multi-party solution. The only person to reply was MRobb, who asked the City to followup. That was 2 weeks ago. The complexity of the problem (and believe me, I understand it's a daunting task) & lack of replies, leads me to believe that answers are not clear, nor is accountability. Nonetheless, despite the challenge, I think the City minimally owes its citizens the answers to the questions raised. Someone must be able say when things are fixed/billing is accurate, on a per-meter/customer basis, IMO

Never had been delinquent before all of this. And just last week, I received a PastDue Letter, threatening termination of service. WHAT?

Ted Wagner

I must apologize, as the City did respond to my email, and rather promptly (and I overlooked). The reply was extensive, including confirmation that:

1. Further investigation is ongoing regarding a potential billing issue.

2. The process of estimating water usage, intermittent manual meter reads & periodic true-up continues.

I appreciate the confirmation that the issue remains. I look forward to the City acknowledging that the ultimate solution includes providing confirmation, on a individual meter/customer basis, when transponders/billing are resolved, and trust all parties are working together with this end in mind.


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