Q&A: Incumbent Jerry Wyatt, Vashaundra Edwards in the running for Missouri City at-large Position 1 council seat

Missouri City residents can decide who will represent them as the at-large Position 1 council member during the Nov. 6 election. Incumbent Jerry Wyatt and newcomer Vashaundra Edwards will be on the ballot. See where they stand on local issues here:

Vashaundra Edwards
Occupation: Probation department
Experience: Worked in various elected official’s offices, community advocate/activist
Top priorities: Community involvement, transparency of local government, economic development, servant leadership

Phone number: 281-401-9469
Website: www.vedwards.org

Jerry Wyatt
Occupation: Retired
Experience: Over 45 years upper management experience in healthcare; 33 years city council experience; chair of Financial Services Committee and Infrastructure Committee
Top priorities: [Supporting] the city’s Economic Development Plan and Comprehensive Plan to support development in all areas of our city; [maintaining] the city’s strong fiscal position with a balanced budget; maintaining a safe city by continuing support for public safety and a quality of life that supports our citizens and the business community

Phone number: (713)826-88759

City Council has expressed interest in growing its commercial tax base. What strategies do you propose to accomplish this goal?
Edwards: Sales tax revenue and commercial property tax revenue are important sources of funding for local governments. As economies fluctuate and state and federal grant policies change, local revenue sources are important for preserving city services during economic downturns. My goal is to recruit the retailers that are the best matches for our community’s needs and interests. That method will keep sales tax dollars in Missouri City’s general fund and increase our commercial tax revenue as well.

Wyatt: The City Council recently approved a new Economic Development Plan. The plan places emphasis on continued business development, including interest within our commercial zones. The plan heightens interest in what has already happened in Lakeview Business Park, Park Eight-Ninety and Beltway Crossing. The plan calls for more emphasis along the Fort Bend Parkway, [Hwy.] 6, Texas Parkway and FM 1092. Since the city is over 80 [percent] built out, it is even more important to attract development that brings high values to the tax base.

Staff recommended a 3-cent tax increase for fiscal year 2018-19. Do you support this and why or why not?
Edwards: Unfortunately, due to [the] city not being able to generate an increasing amount of revenue, the city would have to increase taxes to assure we’re able to meet basic obligations. Without the increase of the tax rate, the city could possibly lose jobs, services, and the city could potentially go into further debt.

Wyatt: The effective tax rate calculation as prescribed tells us what amount is needed to generate the 2018 budget. The 2018 calculation is not enough to advance any growth and upcoming needs for 2019. I specifically support the city’s employees. As a result [of] the recent salary and benefits study, retaining four police officers coming off the COP’s grant that paid their salaries and benefits, the replacement of critical equipment and starting the process for adding a new Fire Station [No.] 6 in an underserved portion of our city [are important items].

If elected, which challenges to address will be your top priority for the next term?
Edwards: My priorities if elected, are to promote community involvement. My goal is to create various events and programs that would provide resources to the community. By giving back to the community through resources and programs, it will increase the community involvement within local government. Community involvement reassures every citizen that they have the right to participate in decision making regarding their community. My priority also will be to assure that as a policy maker, I’m able to be in tune with the needs and issues within the community.

Wyatt: My first priority is to maintain a workable relationship with council. I have one vote, but it takes four votes to get anything done. To support those issues where there is common ground for economic development, public safety and quality of life, I will continue my effort to bring projects that council can support and have ultimate benefit to our citizens. I believe it is important to listen to citizens to address their needs and to be proactive to avoid issues that can impact our daily lives.

By Renee Yan
Renee Yan graduated May 2017 from the University of Texas in Arlington with a degree in journalism, joining Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in July.