Bruce Kreitler, City Council, Place 2

Bruce Kreitler, City Council, Place 2

What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment as a public servant?-I hesitate to use the word “greatest” to talk about my accomplishments, but I do feel that I have accomplished a lot of good. Several onerous ordinances that were being pushed by past city staff, some of them for ten years, have been finally put to rest. {{more}} Also, city staff is now much more receptive to public input , and I’ve had a hand in that. Additionally, businesses and citizens know they can reach out to me, and have done so, if they run into unreasonable problems while dealing with the city. Such instances are great opportunities to help somebody, and to also dig deeper into the issue they brought up to prevent the same problem coming up for other entities. I am confident that I have looked out for the interests of the Abilene taxpayer in helping to make city hall more responsive to citizens needs.What do you feel like is the greatest challenge facing the city of Abilene, and what would you do to solve it?-Leadership and participation. As a community, we have lots of problems that we need to address. Homelessness, declining infrastructure , high civic debt, sub-par average wages in our region, and a need to make our workforce more adaptable, just to name a few. In my opinion, we need to do a better job with such issues, than we have been. Good leadership, accompanied by public participation will see us through these problems. Without effective leadership, and solid citizen participation, we will continue to more-or-less just muddle through with a kind of “get by” approach, as we have done in the past and as many other communities do.Sometimes the citizens have a cynical attitude when it comes to elected officials. The attitude is a we versus them attitude. What are you doing or what will you do to foster an environment where every citizen feels important?-I would begin by saying that quite often a cynical attitude is justified when dealing with government officials, be they elected, appointed, or paid employees. One of the reasons I ran for the Abilene City Council in the first place was because of my frustration with how our city government was ignoring what people had to say about what the city government was doing. I do several things in this area. First, I keep a close of an eye on what the city government is up to. I do this by going to as many of the meetings of the other boards and city commissions as I can. I attend the meetings of more than ten different boards, commission, and committees on a regular basis, and watch them operate . This allows me to get a much better idea of how the city government is “touching” people, and where I can make that process go better for citizens. Secondly, I’m a huge proponent of personal property and privacy rights. City government has the ability to affect, or intrude into, people’s lives, in many different ways. I work to limit the amount the city government interferes with citizens and/or their property, to the absolute minimum amount necessary. Third, I work diligently to respond to every citizen who reaches out to me. Be it by phone call, letter, text, e-mail, or in person, when people want to talk about something the city is doing, or want an explanation of something, I discuss the issue with them, answer their questions, and help them out if needed. I spend a lot of time on this, and am proud to be able to be of assistance. Additionally, I go to as many community meetings as I can. Granted, these meetings are harder to be aware of, as there is no community wide calendar for them, but if I find out about one, or am invited to one, I do my level best to attend, not so I can speak , but so I can listen to what the citizens have on their mind. I also thoroughly research the items that come before the City Council. If an item involves a piece of property, I go look at the property. If reading the agenda item leaves me wanting more information, I ask the questions that will get me that information. Also, when I vote on items, I do my best to cast my votes in a manner that I think best benefits our community, no matter who might be “pushing” a particular issue.How do you believe the citizens of Abilene can help make this a better community?-I like the way this question is phrased. To start with, the citizens of Abilene have already made Abilene a great community. I made the remark in a recent public forum that one of the things I like, and want to work to preserve, is the “community” feel of Abilene. It’s simple enough to be a big town, but being as large as Abilene is, and still having that community feel, instead of being just one more big town, in a state with a lot of big towns, is a unique accomplishment. We have so many citizens and groups of citizens that are doing great things in Abilene that I hesitate to try to give them advice. What I would like to see is those citizens coming to City Hall, attending Council meetings and the other public meetings of the city government, and advising us on how we should be doing business, rather than us advising them. City government should be helping citizens make, and keep, Abilene a great community, not trying to tell them how to do it.What makes you uniquely qualified to serve on the City Council?-I have several things going for me that I feel are very helpful as far as doing a good job on the Abilene City Council. One, I own a service business and talk to a lot of people during my work day. As I have long been interested in politics and current events, and have never shied away from discussing those items with my customers, I have a good feel for what the general public has on their mind. Secondly, I was involved in dealing with city government for years, before I ever ran for City Council. Frankly, I already had a lot of experience with, and knowledge of, the inner workings of our city government before I first took a seat behind the desk at a City Council meeting. Along the same lines of understanding the workings of the city government, I am also a graduate of the 2010 class of Abilene City University. Much as the current Abilene Academy, City University was a multi-month long, look into how the Abilene city government was set up, and what it was supposed to do. Additionally, I work very hard to keep up with the costs associated with city government. I ask a lot of questions about what we charge citizens, either through taxes or fees, and how that money is spent. I feel that we should be more careful when we are spending other people’s money, than we would be if we were spending our own.*According to a poll conducted by The Associated Press – NORC Center for Public Affairs research, they found that more than 8 in 10 Americans favor a federal law preventing mentally ill people from purchasing guns, along with a federal law expanding background check requirements to include gun shows and private sales. How would you feel, if that was implemented in Abilene and Taylor County?-As this is not a City Council issue, I will keep my comments on this question fairly short. First, I am pro-second amendment, and have been very public about that. I agree that guns should be kept out of the hands of mentally ill people, but the issue is who gets to define “mentally ill”, and what is the process for being put on such a list. As far as the “gun-show-loophole” that this question seems to refer to, there actually is no such thing. Gun dealers have to do background checks, no matter where they might be standing when they sell a gun.It appears that we will probably have a large number of young voters engaged in the political process, because of the 17 individuals killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland FL. Do you agree or disagree with their activism and why? Do you have a message for them?-Certainly, my message would be, “get involved, stay involved”. I talk to people all the time who say something along the lines of “I stay out of politics”. Well, individuals may think staying out of politics is a good idea, but I assure you, government are not staying out of the business of individuals. I would also point out to the people in college, or recent graduates, that it’s possible to graduate college, owing more in civic debt, taken out in their name, than they have accumulated in student loan debt. Do you believe that a person’s character is important in holding elected office? If you do please list one character trait one should have and state why you believe it’s important?-Of course I believe a person’s character is important. And not just in holding public office. Frankly, there are a lot of character traits that I think are important in elected officials, but if I have to name just one, I will say straight-forwardness, coupled with a willingness to face knotty problems head on. I think people should be able to know what an elected official thinks, and where they stand, without having to spend a lot of time trying to figure it out. Even when I was running for City Council, I was clear on my beliefs, and how I intended to conduct myself. I frequently make the statement that if you don’t know where I stand on an issue, ask me and I will clear that up. I don’t believe in checking where the political wind is blowing before stating a position, or being indefinite and wishy-washy in my statements. My record on the City Council is crystal clear on this item. I state my thoughts, and stand behind them.We have seen campaigns where individuals have been extremely mean to each other. Could you pay your opponent one compliment?-Yes, it takes a lot of determination to run for public office, and I admire determination.If you could have dinner with anyone from the past or currently living, who would it be and why?-The obvious answer, which I gave last time, is, of course, Jesus Christ. He’s the most important person to ever live . Leaving out Jesus Christ, the person I would most like to have dinner with would be Benjamin Franklin. The man was a fountain of knowledge, good sense, and good ideas, in a time and place, where his contribution was absolutely critical. I am an information/knowledge junky, living in the information age. However, if I live to be a hundred, I’ll still never know half of what Benjamin Franklin did. What he knew, and what he accomplished with that knowledge he accumulated, makes me hold him in awe.Tell us a little about your family, hobbies, etc.-My wife, Caroline, and I, recently celebrated our thirty-fourth wedding anniversary. We are long time Abilene citizens, and while we lived in Abilene before we bought a house here, we have lived in the house where we currently reside for over thirty years. We raised two great kids in that home. Both of our kids have moved away, with one living in Chicago and the other in Buffalo New York . My wife and I own Broken Willow Tree Service, which I, as a Board Certified Master Arborist, run. My wife works as a court reporter, and also helps with the paperwork involved with Broken Willow. Both of us tend to work very long hours, and while we have other pursuits that we enjoy, I can’t say that either of us has a lot of time to spend on them.