By: Sarah Snyder
MIDLAND - Monday marked the first day of early voting in the Tall City. Midlanders headed to the polls to decide who will represent District 1. NewsWest 9 met with both candidates to find out who they are, why they're running, and what they hope to accomplish.
"I want to find ways to be more efficient in how we handle our services," Jeff Sparks, Candidate, Midland City Council Dt. 1, said.
Jeff Sparks is a native West Texan who - along with his brothers and father - runs Discovery Operating Inc. Sparks says his engineering and budgeting background will bring fresh ideas to the Council table.
"The biggest issue is going to be the budget," Sparks said. "The present Council has held our effective tax and you have a reduction in our sales tax, so the budget is going to be the big issue. In looking forward, we have things we need to do to protect our infrastructure and build on our infrastructure so that Midland can build."
Sparks is also hoping to encourage new business to the Tall City. He says diversifying the local economy and keeping taxes in check are top priorities.
"District one wants to know that someone is working to keep their taxes in line and not have taxes continually going up," Sparks said. "They do want good services and they do want our city to continually grow."
Meet Charlie Spence. He's been a Midlander for 25 years. Right now, he's the local census office manager, but among his numerous city-wide roles, he's served on the Chamber of Commerce, United Way, and Boy Scouts organizations.
"I want to focus on community development and economic development and I think both of those go hand in hand," Charlie Spence, Candidate Midland City Council, Dt. 1, said. "The reason I want to be on the Council is to make a great city better."
He says coordination is key. Spence hopes to strengthen the bond among West Texas cities and find areas for growth. He says the new Hospital and Performing Arts Center will be unique ways the Tall City can expand.
"I was Co-Chair of Vision 2020," Spence said. "We had 13 task forces working for almost a year talking about what we would like to dream for the next 10 years in Midland."
Another one of Spence's big issues is continuing a strong plan for water supply.
"I think it's up to us, the City Council now, to look out further and see if we can to make sure this City has adequate water needs for the next half century or century," he said.
The one thing both candidates say the one thing you won't see in this race is mud-slinging. They agreed to keep the race completely positive with no negativity towards their opponent.
Over the past several weeks, they've hit the ground running, putting up signs, sending mailouts, and going door to door.