Shane Price, City Council, Place 1

Shane Price, City Council, Place 1

What do you feel like is your greatest accomplishment as a public servant? This is a difficult question. Obviously, you don’t have to be an elected official to be a public servant. Reflecting on my time in the US Army Reserves, I did a lot. I think my greatest “accomplishment” was having a positive impact on other soldiers as an instructor. {{more}}While the Boy Scouts of America is a private organization, it is open to the “public” in the sense that anyone can be a part of the organization. I think my most important “accomplishment” with them was simply spending time as a positive role model for my sons and other young men that were participating in Scouts with my sons. Similarly, I see my role as a Christian is one of service. I’ve enjoyed being a “Sunday School” classroom teacher for the past 20 years and see kids more firmly grounded in Scripture at the end of the year as an important “accomplishment”. Finally, during my tenure on the City Council, I count my efforts to improve open, honest, and respectful communication between groups as an important accomplishment.What do you feel like is the greatest challenge facing the city of Abilene, and what would you do to solve it? The City of Abilene faces various challenges. The problem with trying to put a pin in any one as “the greatest” and solving it first is you may cause more overall harm than good. Two of the three primary water reservoirs are close to capacity while the third is still almost 39 feet below the spillway. While our water supply isn’t critical now, we need to continue working towards sustainable long-term water supplies including the new Cedar Ridge Reservoir. We have been making progress in addressing the condition of some of the larger streets in Abilene since the 2015 bond was approved. However, we know there is a much larger need than what the bond will fix. In addition, we have other infrastructure needs that have been deferred. The rec. centers are old and need to be revitalized. The Convention Center has millions of dollars in improvements that have been identified. In the past few months, we’ve had ribbon cuttings at three new fire stations. The remaining five fire stations need to be maintained. The current Law Enforcement Center we share with the Taylor County Sheriff’s office is not large enough to house our officers as well as all the paperwork and evidence that we are required to store. The city is seeing a lot of growth to the south and the northeast. Growth is good, but our current growth allows areas in established areas of town to stagnate. These areas already have supporting infrastructure in place, such as water, sewer, refuse collection, police and fire service. We may soon have to look at extra fire protection service to support these high growth areas. Finally, we’ve incurred debt from our drought relief efforts and bond elections. That’s a good sampling of some challenges. Now, what should we do? I believe we need to continue pursuing the new Cedar Ridge reservoir. The Street Maintenance Fee is a way we can increase revenue specifically dedicated to street maintenance. However, the proposed fee would represent essentially the largest tax increase the City Council has ever approved. That is why I would not vote for it without first sending it before the voters as a referendum. In addition to selecting representatives for the Abilene City Council and members of the Abilene ISD school board of trustees, the voters will have the opportunity on Saturday, May 5th to tell the CityCouncil “Yes” or “No” on whether to adopt this fee. To start addressing the deferred maintenance concern with facilities, the City Council adopted a budget last summer that included an increase specifically targeted at meeting needs in the Convention Center. We also approved work towards renovating the former K-Mart building as a new municipal building that will host the Abilene Police Department, Abilene Municipal Court, and Water Utilities offices. To address service needs related to growth, I’d like us to look at possibly leveraging existing facilities. Fire Station #8 has an extra bay that is being used to store an apparatus that is infrequently used. We may be able to add a second active unit to that station with the addition of extra sleeping quarters and add a needed industrial washing machine there for cleaning hazardous material from fire uniforms like the three new stations have. Similarly, we have the existing fire training facility on East Lake Rd. that may work as location for a new station to serve the area along Hwy 351 as well as the east side of Lake Fort Phantom. Finally, debt can be useful when it is used responsibly. We need to be vigilant in making sure we don’t abuse it or let it get out of hand.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?Mayor Williams talks about the importance of making sure everyone has a place at the table. Shortly after his election, we changed our meeting schedule to have one of our two regular meetings each month held in the evening. During a discussion last month, we affirmed our desire to continue holding one of our regular meetings in the evening and one in the morning to accommodate as many people as possible. Some citizens have schedules that make it easier to attend a morning meeting while others can only attend evening meetings. We also decided to add the “open mic” session to our regular meetings. That way members of the public have an opportunity at any regular meeting to share their concerns with the City Council. While we have limitations on us in responding to issues that are not posted as part of the agenda, every citizen has an opportunity to be heard. The “us” versus “them” clash is deepest when the decision makers won’t listen to the people impacted by their decisions. I hope we can reduce this feeling of conflict by doing all we can to help the mayor invite everyone to the table.How do you believe the citizens of Abilene can help make this a better community?Every one of us can help. West Texas is a windy place. If people will bag their trash and pick up trash from their yard, together we can reduce how much trash we see around town. There are people all around us that could use a little help. For those of us that are physically able, we can help a neighbor with something simple like mowing their yard, fixing their fence, or painting their house. For those of us with limited physical abilities, we can call and provide encouragement and connection. If you don’t know where to start, check with your church. They can either connect you with someone or help you connect with a local group that needs your help.What makes you uniquely qualified to serve on the City Council?I wouldn’t describe myself as “uniquely qualified” to serve. There are many that love Abilene and could serve well. I have different strengths, weaknesses, and interests than the other members of the Abilene City Council, and I enjoy serving as part of the team. The challenge most people face when considering whether or not to run for local office is being able to devote the necessary time to this responsibility. At $1 per year, this is not a full time job. However, members of the City Council must not only allocate time for the actual meeting, but also spend time reading the packets before meetings, researching questions that come up that the City Council has to consider, and actively engaging the public to help the average citizen stay connected to the process of decision-making here in Abilene. I’m blessed to work for someone that allows me enough flexibility in my schedule to do both my “real job” and take care of my responsibilities as an elected official.*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?First, this isn’t something that would be decided by the Abilene City Council. The proposal does concern me because the definition of “mentally ill” is too easily changed, and a label, once applied to a person, can be difficult to remove.It appears that we will probably have a large number of young voters engaged in the political process. Do you have a message for them?Whether young or old, I have a similar message. Please do get involved and stay engaged. We live in a democratic republic, meaning decisions are made by representatives that have been democratically elected. From the City Council and School Board and up, we need to pay attention to what our representatives support and oppose on our behalf. If you disagree, please take time to share your concerns. If a current officeholder’s beliefs aren’t in line with your own, consider running for that seat yourself, or finding a candidate you are more closely aligned with and support his or her run for that office.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?Good character is important for everyone, but especially important for someone entrusted to act in your stead, like elected officials are. The most important to me is honesty. When I am considering a candidate, if I can’t trust his or her answer, nothing he or she says matters because I don’t know whether or not to believe what is being said.We have seen campaigns where individuals have been extremely mean to each other. Could you pay your opponent one compliment?I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting my opponent. However, I have read that he is a nurse. I respect anyone that is willing to dedicate their career to helping people that are struggling with health issues/concerns. I appreciate his willingness to serve in such a noble profession.If you could have dinner with anyone from the past or currently living, who would it be and why?I would love to have the opportunity to have dinner again with my grandparents. They all left a unique imprint on me, and I would like to be able to thank them again for how much they mean to me.Tell us a little about your family, hobbies, etc.I’m a native Abilenian. I spent nine years in the US Army Reserves and was a First Lieutenant when I left the service. My wife’s father was in the oil business, so they moved around a lot. We met when she moved to Abilene to attend ACU. We’ve been married for over 28 years, and we have four children. She currently works for ACU. Our oldest is married and in the US Air Force, currently stationed in Wichita, KS. His wife is a nurse serving at a hospital there in Wichita, KS. Our second son graduated from ACU this past December and is working here in Abilene. Our third is a Junior at ACU studying Engineering. Our youngest is a Freshman at ACU and also studying Engineering. All three of our sons are Eagle Scouts. We attend Hillcrest Church of Christ where I serve as a deacon and have taught 4th or 5th grade since joining. I also currently serve as the VP of District Operations for the Texas Trails Council, Boy Scouts of America. Finally, I have been a member of the Abilene City Council since May, 2009.