Know your candidates: Reno city council

The Springtown Epigraph posed the following questions to candidates seeking a seat on the Reno City Council

1. In 200 words or less, describe yourself, why you’re seeking this position, what you hope to bring to the council, and any experience that would benefit you if elected as a council member.

2.The city of Reno is currently facing a six-figure lawsuit from one of its employees, alleging, in part, mistreatment from a member of the council. There have been previous discussions about adopting a code of ethics that dictates the behavior of the council both in and out of meetings. Do you support such a code, and what action would you take to see its implementation through?

3. The conditions of roads and infrastructure in the city are two of its top issues; however, the city doesn’t have on hand the funds needed to make many of the repairs and upgrades for which the citizens are asking. What plan of action would you take to rectify this issue both in the short- and long-term future?

4. Parker County is set for a population and development boom over the next decade. Unincorporated areas of the county, Weatherford, and eastern cities are already experiencing this. As a member of the council, what do you believe the city should do facilitate and plan for the coming growth? What actions could the city take to attract development to Reno?

Here are the answers we received.

Harry Harris
Place 1

Harry Harris
1. My name is Harry Harris. I am running for Place 1 Reno city council. I have lived in Reno for 54 years. I was 14 years old when we moved into a house on my dad’s homeplace. My grandfather settled in the Reno community in the late 1800s. I graduated from Azle High School in 1966. I went into the Air Force like so many of my classmates. The draft was in progress and it was time to serve. I was stationed at Travis AFB in California. I met for my wife there and in 1969 we were married. We moved back here in 1970. We have been married 49 years. My dad built my house on part of the family plot. That was 40 years ago. We raised two girls and we have two grandsons. I have always loved the country life. I am looking forward to working in the role as councilman. I have had a leadership role nearly all of my life. I have led in five different churches, and was part owner of a pier drilling company for 20 years. I retired in 2013. I will listen to my fellow taxpayers and neighbors who want a community that is people-friendly, family-friendly, and business-friendly.
2. I believe it would set a standard if we had a code of ethics and were held accountable in such a way that if we broke any part of that code we would be expected to resign as a councilman. My word is my bond and when I take the oath to serve, then I will do my very best to do a good job for the community. I believe we should set down together as city council with the mayor and write a code of ethics and be expected to be held accountable.
3. My thoughts on roads, etc. is that we as a council along with the mayor go to the Parker County commissioner and try to mend the hard feelings. The county has all the equipment and the know-how, and the people do everything that needs to be done and do it right. The city has four employees to take care of water, mowing, and roads. We can’t do it anymore.
4. The city of Reno is kind of off the beaten path. To some measure, I believe we are at a disadvantage. So we would seek out businesses that may be looking to get out of the larger cities, and come to a community that they could grow in without being closed off by the bigger or larger cities. We should plan for a sewer system and water treatment plant. These are needed to grow our community. Maybe we could reach out to our citizens for a volunteer network to attract businesses.

Ron Gray

1. I worked for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers for 35 years.
What the city needs water, roads, and infrastructure. I want code of ethics for every council member; when we serve taxpayers they have to be listened to. I served in the military for 21 years – five months all in engineer fields. That is what I bring to the city of Reno.

Place 3
Kerry Jenkins
1. My name is Kerry Jenkins. I have been a resident of Reno since 2016. Prior to this my husband and I were residents of Weatherford for 13 years. I work as an outside sales representative for an animal health supply company calling on feed stores and tack stores in the D/FW Metroplex and outlying areas. I am seeking to continue on Reno City Council in Place 3. For approximately a year and a half I attended virtually all city council meetings doing no more than listening and learning what is happening around our community basically as an outsider looking in, and after all this time I feel that the city of Reno is in need of new blood, ideas, and leadership.
2. I believe that each person whether someone on the city council or just in the general workforce should all be held accountable for their code of ethics. There are state laws such as the LGC (Local Government Code) Sec.21.025 which defines the removal process for General Law cities and they need to be followed from start to finish as stated by The State of Texas.
3. The City of Reno was recently the recipient of two federal grants towards drainage improvement and road repair. These grants will bring much needed improvements to our city in specific areas. Separate from these grants the city of Reno must maintain its qualification for future grants. In the long term the city must improve management of the budget, set aside funds to handle road repairs, drainage, and any other issues.
4. Our beautiful city and surrounding open property has already attracted the interest of numerous home builders. The city council needs to protect the interest of the community with ordinances that are written, approved and implemented.

Billie Kirchner Steele
Place 5
Billie Kirchner Steele
1. I am a lifetime resident of Reno. I am fiscally conservative and consider myself to be a person of integrity and honesty. I have always tried to dedicate myself to do what is morally right. I am passionately involved in Reno community activities, including fundraising for food pantry, and “Paws for a Cause” animal rescue. I am currently seeking reelection to the city council of Reno Place 5. I have been a councilperson for 10 years, and believe I have a lot to bring to the table. I have over 20 years of business management which includes extensive budget experience.
2. Council members are already bound by an established code of ethics by the state of Texas. I don’t believe it is possible to legislate morality; however, each council member is responsible to behave in a moral and ethical manner. I do support ethical and moral behavior, and I don’t disagree with an additional code; however, I don’t believe it will change a person’s basic character.
3. Roads, infrastructure, and a shortage of funds in Reno have always been major issues. A big thanks belongs to Scott Passmore for all his work on grants for the city. We currently have several grants that have been approved, and we are waiting for funding. This alone will not solve all our problems. We also have to continue to work with the oil and gas companies to comply with road repair caused by their trucks. At budget time, it is a continual struggle to keep the budget under control to avoid raising taxes, which I have worked hard to prevent.
4. A large development in our unincorporated area is currently in the works. It would be extremely helpful for growth to acquire grants to build sewer systems in residential areas. We have to continue to provide good water for residents, and be self-sufficient. As mentioned before, we must continue to work to provide good roads and infrastructure. As population grows, we will face a shortage in good schools to accommodate families; therefore we must plan ahead and be prepared for the growth that is already upon us.

Joe R. Patterson
Joe R. Patterson
1. My family moved to Azle in 1960 when I was 12 years old. I had two brothers that had already settled here after World War II. I attended Azle schools and graduated in 1966. We just had our 50th high school reunion. I have two children who are Azle graduates. I have been a self-employed business owner in the Azle/Reno area for 25 years. My dad taught me to drive on the Reno roads. I want to bring a non-biased, non-self-serving attitude to the council. There is a lot of discord and division in Reno due to the past and hopefully we can remedy some of that. Honesty is very important to me. I have big ears and I will listen. Good actions speak a lot louder than negative words. If you write a check for taxes in the city of Reno, you should have a voice. I’m for the citizens and not the council. I will need your trust as that citizen of Reno and I will work for your interests. Hopefully, we can progress and still grow this city into the future together.
2. I really wasn’t aware of any “code of ethics” mentioned here. No one has approached me on this topic. Seems that this could on the edge of infringing on individuals’ rights of free speech. I might be for a code that would also apply to the speaking public at council. You know as well as I that thick skin is a plus when it comes to political division. Looks like at this point someone just got “butt hurt” as they say. Maybe a different line of work could be more tolerable. I doubt it warrants hundreds of thousands of hardworking taxpayer money. That money doesn’t belong to Reno; it belongs to the residents of the city. That money would just maybe pave a mile of road or repair a drainage problem in several areas.
3. Roads are a high-maintenance item. They are subject to summer and winter contraction and expansion, flooding, and weight abuses by heavier equipment in hotter weather when the roads are vulnerable to heat (soft). The roads we travel on now were once merely dirt wagon trails. Then gravel at some point were all moved to the county. It is Reno’s sole responsibility as a city to maintain these roads for their citizens. The drainage problems are a lay of the land in areas and water will always run downhill. Roads and drainage are very expensive repairs. As council those issues will be a top priority. Reno will have to receive grants and manage funds to address some of the worst-case scenarios. Kicking the can down the rough road is not an option anymore.
4. When Hwy. 199 is complete and Hwy. 114 is finished, you will see a constant rise in growth in northwest and northeast Parker County, and that includes the city of Reno. A lot of people want out of the big cities and are seeking land and the rural settings of the country atmosphere. Many want to downsize and rid the high taxation rates of the bigger towns. That and wanting to retire is one the reasons I moved to Reno in 1997. Growth in Reno means a broader tax base, and hopefully taxes can stay low, in which I will fight for. But then again, low taxes and growth pushes property prices to rise so it is somewhat offsetting. Reno just could be in its infancy compared to ten years down the road. With no curbs and gutters, sewer system, Reno will grow to the point all of this will have to be considered. That could all be in Reno in the not-to-distant future.