By Bonnie Culverhouse
Those who gathered at the 14th District Building for a candidate forum Saturday mostly agreed on local issues … just not how to solve them.
At the top of the list of City of Minden’s issues are high utility bills, public safety and a divisive city council.
Candidate Nick Cox said he believes there is a way to lower utility rates.
“A lot of people tell me there is a contract (with Southwestern Electric Power Company) that we cannot get out of for six more years, but there’s gotta be a way,” Cox said. “Our citizens need relief. There’s two sides to every coin. We can’t be judging without understanding.”
Cox pointed out that many citizens are having to choose between keeping up their properties and paying their utility bill. Others who are considering a move to Minden are being told to live outside the city limits for the same reason.
Billy Mills said his background as a minister has given him the skills to handle large budgets and people in difficult situations.
“I am completely focused on investing in this city and its future,” Mills said. “I believe we all want the same common goal, a city that is flourishing, a city that people want to raise their families in, a city with a firm foundation.
Mills went on to say that what Minden needs is unity.
“And the understanding that what is good for one area of Minden is good for every part of Minden as a whole,” he said. “There are a variety of needs and agendas – every one of them equally important.”
Current District B Councilwoman Terika Williams-Walker is a long-time educator, school and political leader. She also said her main concerns were already expressed by other council and mayoral candidates.
“Before any of that can happen, you have to have leadership in place,” she said. “To be a good leader, you have to be a good follower and a good listener. We all have change we want to see … we need to move Minden forward. We have to do our best, not just for one side, but all the city of Minden.”
Her focus, she said, will be on municipal unification, economic development, school safety and energy.
“Utility bills are the biggest issue and concern for the citizens of Minden,” Walker said. “I’m not going to stand here and say I can fix it and make it go away. What I can do and what I have done is started talks with a legal team about the contract. I have spoken with other government agents to provide some resources.”
Cox said one key to unifying the mayor and council is “if we keep ourselves in check, others will follow.”
“Until we can understand the emotions and behaviors of others, it’s very hard to lead groups of people,” he added.
Mills said after 47 years in the ministry, he has helped people mend bridges.
“I think every voice is important, and I must listen to everyone,” Mills said. “At the end of the day, it will be am I’m pleasing God?”
Walker said the next mayor will have to be aware of his or her actions and how they will affect others.
“You regulate you,” she said. “As a leader, you are there to work with a team and do what’s best for the city. It is not about you. You can’t have a personal agenda.”
All candidates said they will work with the law enforcement and look for ways to lower crime, while keeping the citizens safe.
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