Huntsville City Council candidates speak to students, residents at forum

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More than 60 students and city residents got a chance to hear from hopeful Huntsville City Council candidates on Tuesday in the College of Humanities and Social Science building.Huntsville City Council candidates speak to students, residents at forum

Ward 2 City council candidate Kendall Scudder, unopposed incumbent Mayor Mac Woodward and city council candidates Joe Rodriquez, Ward 4, and Andy Brauninger, At-Large Position 1, were all present at a forum hosted by the SHSU Student Government Association.

Topics such as pedestrian safety and student involvement were discussed at the forum.

Scudder addressed the lack of sidewalks leading to campus and drainage issues around Bowers Stadium.

“We can’t get our sidewalks we need, but they will build them out in cow pastures on Veterans Memorial,”Scudder said. “People don’t pay attention to these [issues]. So hopefully down the road we will see a lot more active young people in this community.”

Rodriquez said that he believes the city is on the right track with its future plans to create sidewalks leading to campus.

“I drive up and down the street and see young people walking back and forth to school with really no safe area to walk in,” Rodriquez said. “I think we’re trying to alleviate that now, as I speak I know that somewhere in the budget, sidewalks are planned that will help the university somewhat.”

The City of Huntsville’s budget was discussed, and Braulinger said his experience could bring a better view to the table.

“As I looked at the city budget, it was a typical ‘this was our budget last year, this what we need this year, this is [Fiscal Year] 2014,’ I said ‘no’,” said Braulinger.

Braulinger and Scudder both openly favored zero-balance budgeting. Zero-balance budgeting is the practice where you start from scratch when building a budget rather than mending a previous budget.

“Start over, start back at zero and build a budget for ’14,” Braulinger said.

Woodward along with the other candidates encouraged student involvement in city government.

“The problems that we have and that our citizens have are the same because [students] are our citizens” Woodward said, “We can’t distinguish between [students] and our permanent residents. [Students’] needs are important to the city.”

Early voting continues through Nov. 1 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and general voting on Election Day, Nov. 5, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, visit www.co.walker.tx.us.

FORUM TOPICS

Scudder is currently facing Councilwoman Tish Humphrey of Ward 2, who didn’t attend the forum and sent a message critical of the forum’s organization.

Ward 2 is often described as a student ward for the many primarily student-housing apartment complexes.

Humphrey said in a statement delivered by Student Body President Ramiro Jaime Jr. that she was tending to “more productive activities”due to an event on the Constitution and lack of organization.

“Unfortunately, in the interest of time I find it necessary to put my efforts into more productive activities which will reach more students as well as other constituents,”Humphrey said.

The forum was originally scheduled for Oct. 23 but was rescheduled for Tuesday. Humphrey agreed to attend the original forum, but, she said, due to the disorganization of SGA she wasn’t coming to the rescheduled meeting.

“As I understood it, the first SGA forum was cancelled due to lack of preparation and broad notice not having been provided to the student body”Humphrey said. “Sadly the second attempt has shown even less organization with virtually no publicity for the event or even a location had been provided until just 24 hours ago.”

Jaime first called for the original forum to be postponed during the Oct. 22 SGA meeting after he said External Affairs Chief Cristan Shamburger didn’t have the power to organize such an event without the Senate’s approval. He called for a special session where they eventually moved the event to its final date.

Scudder said nothing should be more important than talking with constituents as an elected official.

“I think it’s unacceptable that we have to fight so hard to be heard in this community,”Scudder said. “Here we have a forum today, filled with young people where you can come and express your concerns, [yet] Humphrey has ‘more productive things to do’.”

“I had found out the location had been moved again and the time,”Humphrey said. “I was at an event that was not where the students were. I was working on prearranged things.”

Humphrey said she questioned that fairness of the debate, which was moderated by Shamburger who is Scudder’s campaign manager.

Humphrey won her race against former SHSU student Katie Newman in her last election. Scudder lost last year against Councilman Keith Olson by less than one percent of the vote.