Saturday, March 2, 2024

The fight for a place on Granbury City Council is underway

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The Granbury Chamber of Commerce hosted a candidate forum for Charles Beard and Gary “Skip” Overdier, who are currently running for place four on the Granbury City Council, on Nov. 27.

Beard and Overider are fighting for a spot on the council after neither of them nor Bradley Benson received more than half the votes during the Nov. 7 election.

Beard received 639 votes or 27.83% and Overdier received 1,072 votes or 45.93%.

The forum was moderated by Marcie Reynolds, an assistant professor at Tarleton State University.

The topics discussed included streets and transportation, taxes, city staff and economic development.

Beard’s main campaign push is that he is for the people, while Overdier is campaigning on his experience.

Beard is a Christian conservative and is both a United States Army and Navy Veteran. He volunteers around Granbury, is a member of Lakeside Baptist Church and is a substitute teacher for Granbury ISD.

Overdier served in the United States Air Force and has worked in real estate sales and management. He previously served as a city councilman for the City of Destin in Florida for three years. Now living in Granbury, Overdier is a member of the Granbury Rotary Club, is a volunteer for non-profits in the area and has served on the city’s Charter Review Commission; he currently serves on the Planning and Zoning Commission.

When discussing streets and transportation, Overdier wants to find additional land for public parking. He also wants to expand park-and-ride options to ease access for people to get around town and out of town. Overdier also wants to have an established bus route through Granbury, and called for improvements to Old Granbury Road to make the traffic flow better. Overdier also encourages TXDOT to continue to seek the $240 million needed for the reconstruction project on U.S. Highway 377.

Beard noted roads in the neighborhoods in town are in bad shape and thinks those roads need to be focused on first. He added that the community comes first and side roads and roads that lead to businesses need to be fixed due to tourism. He agreed with Overdier at the idea of having a form of transportation that isn’t a car. He noted the city needs to be realistic in what it can achieve when it comes to transportation and roads.

When the topic of taxes came up Beard shared that he is not for any tax increases unless absolutely necessary, but added he would speak to the public if an increase were needed. He discussed tax incentive reinvestment zones, calling them a great opportunity. He also discussed property taxes, noting that when big revenue resources come to town in the future, the city will have a chance to lower those property taxes. When it comes to the tax rate, he said the public needs to accept it is continuing to go up and to be realistic, but also try and keep it as low as possible.

Overdier pointed out Granbury’s tax rate is lower than all other cities around such as Burleson, Cleburne, Weatherford and more. He added that reviewing the budget is one of the most important aspects of being on the city council. He attributed the low tax rate to the city council that has worked up to its current board. He said people need to keep inflation in mind and remember the tax rate has even gone down in the last four years. He shared how important sales tax is for the city, as well as tourism. He also noted that although property tax bills have gone up, so have property values. With his experience and work history, Overdier said he is fully prepared to work on the city budget.

City staff was also a topic of discussion, and Overdier said the City of Granbury has a great staff. He said a new computer system has made community development tasks easier for businesses. Overdier mentioned that due to intergovernmental meetings, a lot has been accomplished through the city working with the county as well as Representative Shelby Slawson. He added that the city has a great communications team and keeps the residents of the city informed. The police budget increase was also mentioned due to the work from the city.

Beard said city staff is a second part of the town’s foundation and that they should be treated properly. He added the recent pay increase for staff was good and needed to happen. He again stated the public needs to be put first and that they are the ones who elect government officials. He said the public needs to look into who is elected and keep up with their actions as officials. Keeping everyone informed is what Beard wants to do for the public with proper communication. He said it is important to start looking toward the future, knowing changes made today will affect future generations. He also noted there should be funds available for raises for city officials and employees. He added it is important for the public to feel comfortable sharing their opinions and concerns with the city council.

The moderator then asked Beard about how communications will be facilitated across the city staff after he continued to emphasize communication.

Beard expressed that he wants the city council to have quarterly meetings with the neighborhoods in town, church groups and others who are interested. He said not many people attend the Granbury City Council meetings, adding many people tell him they want the “old Granbury.” He also wants to add places around town where the community can fill out a form for comments to give to the city.

Economic development was the next topic and Beard said the city needs to be more open-minded when it comes to new businesses and keep in mind the growth that is coming. He said the city needs to stay on top of the growth and stay informed, remaining open to changing times and changing technology. He mentioned the importance of the airport, saying it should remain in focus as a source of revenue. Beard said the most important aspect of development is whether it will improve the lives of the citizens and communication.

Overdier said a new economic development director was hired and shared that he is working on research and looking at the future of the town. He added that the city needs to continue to work with the county. Overdier mentioned Visit Granbury and the immense economic development they bring in as well as the revenue coming in from the airport. He said new hangers will be added through a 30-year land lease which will bring in more income and jobs. He also mentioned tax incentive reinvestment zones that will attract more businesses to continue to come to Granbury.

Beard and Overdier then gave their closing statements before the forum came to a close.

“My whole purpose in being on the city council is to be a voice for the people. I want to get on and do my public service by helping the people and that is the bottom line,” Beard said. “If you don’t want change and you don’t want someone to be able to get in there and hear you, I don’t know what to say. I am prepared to do this job and prepared to do anything that is set before me. I look for challenges. I just want to make sure everyone understands I am for you and not for me.”

He said although he doesn’t have prior experience with the city, he is a fast learner and added he continually researches. Through his service in the military, he added he is a leader and knows what the people want through him talking with the community members in the town.

“I think this campaign comes down to the training, education, experience and community involvement,” Overdier said.

He then restated his previous experience and achievements, noting everything he has done has prepared him for this role.

“The city council is not a training program. It should be made up of people with the ability to identify areas that need attention and how to create solutions that meet the needs of the citizens of Granbury,” Overdier said. “I know how to be a team player. I may not always agree with other members of the council, but we can work together to find solutions to keep Granbury the greatest town in Texas.”

Beard then added that he is not there to be trained and knows what he is doing.

“Time is all I have, and you can say what you want but the bottom line is there is nothing I can’t do on city council and there’s nothing I can’t get accomplished,” Beard said.

Early voting started on Nov. 27 at the Hood County Annex in room one located at 1410 W. Pearl St. in Granbury. Polls will be closed over the weekend but early voting will resume on Dec. 4 and Dec. 5 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A runoff election is scheduled to take place on Dec. 9 and voting will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.