Odessa Mayoral Candidates Speak Up on Top Issues Facing City's Future

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

ODESSA- Equal rights advocacy group Una Voz Unida held a candidate forum on Tuesday night at La Margarita Restaurant in Odessa. Two of the guests in house were David Turner and Mark Ritter. Those candidates are running against each other in the November election to win the Mayor's seat in Odessa.

Business owner David Turner operates seven local Subway Restaurants. He's also a trustee for Odessa College. Mark Ritter is a funeral assistant with a Navy background and a deep roots in West Texas.

The water shortage is a top concern for both candidates.

Ritter says, "I understand water. I know water. I know it inside and out. I know it from top to bottom."

He believes his time working with water issues while in the military has prepared him to tackle the problem. Ritter is eager to see what Summit Power Group's clean-coal power plant, being constructed in Penwell, can do to supply more water to the city.

Turner agrees but adds that desalinization is also key element in Odessa's future for water.

"We need to look at the Ward County desalinization plant and we also need to look at Fort Stockton. Fort Stockton is already using desalinization," Turner said.

When it comes to the school system, Turner isn't ready to take a position on the roughly $129 million Ector County ISD school improvement bond proposal which will be on the November ballot.

"I'm still educating myself and I'm still holding off judgement," Turner said.

Ritter won't take sides yet either but believes the bond proposal, so far, is less than ideal.

"I'm looking it over, it has got some problems. I think 'they' threw it to us too fast. I think [the district] is like everybody else. [They're] trying get another dollar into their pockets," Ritter said.

In regards to education as a whole in Odessa, Ritter wants to see overcrowding addressed. Turner wants math and science to get a boost so students graduating from high school will enter the workforce with greater potential for employment. He also thinks we need to get a handle on the teen pregnancy problem.

"[Teen families] really have trouble making money because they can't find affordable daycare," Turner said.

When it comes to housing, both candidates say Odessa needs more builders coming into the city with affordable options. Ritter adds that he wants all the new housing that's going up to be spread out.

"I want to see some [more] housing on the south side and westside of Odessa. We don't have enough there. We're pushing north and we're pushing east. We're not pushing south and we're definitely not pushing west," Ritter said.

Both candidates will also be speaking Wednesday night at another community forum. It will take place at 7 p.m. at Ogi's Restaurant in Odessa.