City Council Candidate Steve Hampton: "People need to be given the chance to do the right thing."
SAN ANGELO, TEXAS -- Steve Hampton has lived in San Angelo for 7 years. He has been married for 41 years and is a retired school teacher. LIVE! sat down with him to hear his vision for San Angelo's future.
Steve Hampton described himself as "conservative and social moderate" with "conservative values." He added that he embraces "republican philosophy, but I am very much for the people and for their quality of life." Hampton believes that San Angelo needs more parks and other amenities. He added, "It took years and years of abuse of the infrastructure that now we’re ready to fix it. What has been proposed sounds good to me. I don't have a problem with it, I think it’s very wise to rebuild the streets and then moving to sewage and water.I’m happy with the way things are being dealt with, but I am not happy with the debt. I don't see why we have to do everything in one full swoop. We can’t seem to break everything down into digestible.”
LIVE! then asked what Hampton's views were on the water issues San Angelo is currently facing?
While Hampton agrees with the idea of recycling water, his philosophy on how to finance it and the time frame in which to implement it, differs from those who are currently in office. “The Toilet to Tap project is something I am interested in. I have no problem with it, I think that's a good conservative way to approach things, but we have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars, we have to have the whole thing and it's got to be first class, I don't agree with that. I think we should do it in stages. I think we have sufficient water for our needs at this time," he added.
Hampton believes San Angelo's Christian history was an important factor in the city's survival during times of hardship. "The good Lord has blessed us with rain, and as a religious community we have the right to anticipate that. Which is a traditional idea, we seem to go from drought to flood in the history of this community. Down the road, we probably will need some more water, since we are growing at about 1,000 people a year.”
Since part of the idea was to fund toilet to tap, do you have an opinion on the five-year plan?
While in general, Hampton sees the implementation of the five-year plan as a good idea, he also thinks that it is flawed with bureaucratic problems,“I think it's always good to have a reserve. I don't like the way this has been approached. The water business is how the city makes a lot of money. I think it could be spread out over many departments and not just the water. I don't see why it has to be five years, why not ten years? If we have sufficient water for our needs now, we may not need to place such a heavy burden on people's water bills. I think the city has realized that we have hit the top of the housing tax market, and they are looking for different ways to fund themselves and not raise taxes. They're focusing on raising fees concerning the code department. They are focusing on raising water bills, they’ve not fought the appraisal issues at all, it made them $1.5 million a year, and they didn't do anything! Then, they've got that $25 late water fee they are resistant to bring down, because that’s another $1.5 million. I think our bureaucracy has gotten to big, and they are more focused on getting raises for themselves than they are on anything else.”
Speaking of bureaucracy, where do you stand on the issues of trash collection and Republic Services?
While the citizens seem to have settled down in regard to the home services, Hampton believes that the City should allow the issue to cool down to evaluate it later. “I feel that it's beginning to stabilize now. I think the trash bill may be a little high, but I don't hear a lot of complaining about it from citizens. Therefore, I think it's better to let it stabilize and then look at. We keep tinkering with it, and it confuses the issue and makes people mad. I think we need to back off of it for a year and reevaluate. Is it doing what we want it to do?"
That being said, Hampton wasted no time addressing what he perceives as the failures of the current city council in regards to monitoring Republic Services and their activities.
"I think there is a lot of oversight that is being neglected by the city council, because they keep having to put out fires. We have that responsibility as councilmen, to reevaluate and investigate. A great deal of investigation ought to be put in to that contract on the trash. It was supposed to be supervised and monitored by the City, and apparently, it was not. Apparently, whoever was given responsibility of that, neglected it. What happened to that person? Clearly, they were not doing their job. The audit was done internally by the company that we were supposed to be observing. Everybody knows that you have to have outside audits otherwise you get concealment. There's a long history of organized crime in the trash industry. And we’re supposed to take it at face value that they're a good honest company? I don't think that's wise. Where's the oversight? Where's the evaluation? If they are a good honest company, they should have a paper trail.”
What is your vision for your district and the city of San Angelo as a whole?
In Hampton's eyes, "the future of San Angelo is healthy, very healthy." He thinks "that San Angelo has many great and wonderful points in its make up. However, he also states that "the government needs to be held accountable and investigated. We need to have an audit on the government! To make sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing--at the lowest price we can reasonably expect. If we do that, things will go well for the City. We cannot let the debt get out of control. We need to keep the debt down and the government clean, and we will do well."
He also sees a need for citizens to be more involved in the affairs of their city. “We need to get the citizens more active in their community. I think that's important for cutting costs, being happier, and having a sense of security. We need to bring back the neighborhood watch, working with the police. We need to get volunteer organizations rolling, and we need to get Churches more involved. I know there is separation of Church and State but that's been over-worked. There are charitable groups that want the right thing, and people need to be given the chance to do the right thing.”
San Angelo LIVE thanks Steve Hampton for taking the time to speak with us.
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