Voters in Denison will choose a representative for the City Council’s at large, Place 6 seat when they hit the polls on May 4. Incumbent Rayce Guess will face challenger Brian Hander, who tied Guess for second place during last May’s election, resulting in a coin flip decision on which would proceed to a runoff.

The Herald Democrat recently spoke with both candidates and asked them a series of questions regarding the role of the council and what they would like to accomplish if they are elected.

Both candidates were given the same questions and asked to respond to each question in 100 words or less via email. The responses are as submitted by the candidates, with edits only for space, formatting or if a candidate went well over the word limit.

What are some of the responsibilities a council member has on both a day-to-day level and on a more ongoing basis?

Hander: “Our council members are charged with the task of determining our tax rate, setting policy, approving annual budgets, and funding capital improvement plans. However, they are also responsible for so much more. The council serves as the voice of the citizens. Their job is to actively listen to Denison’s residents and make decisions that will benefit the entire city. I hope to encourage more communication between our citizens and city staff & council. I want to be an active participant in our community in order to address issues that will arise. By focusing on communication and implementation, we can increase our quality of life for all citizens.”

Guess: “Council has a variety of jobs and their isn’t a typical day .. It can entail everything from working on City Budget, Serving On Committees within the Structure of City Government, Reviewing, Adapting Information recommended by Planning and Zoning, Denison Downtown Alliance or the City Manager. Biggest job is be the Eyes, Ears, and Voice of the Citizens of our Great City.”

What skill set do you bring to the table that is different or underrepresented on the council?

Hander: “I hope to bring the voice and skillset of a young professional who chose Denison as a place to raise a family. Although our council has diverse backgrounds, we are lacking depth and variety when it comes to age. As both a property owner and commercial building owner, I want what is best for our city and want to do it in a way that is fiscally responsible and without increasing the tax burden of our residents. Although young, I have a passion for our city’s unique history. I plan to use this knowledge of our rich heritage to help keep our identity as we grow in the future.”

Guess: “I feel I have somewhat of a unique situation and experience. I am a Retired History Teacher and Coach, who still does Consulting and Volunteer work at both DHS and Scott Middle School. I also do Volunteer Youth Mentor for the AMP Program. Work I also Volunteer on an At Risk Youth Board. I serve on United Way Nonprofit Boards Wishing Well Texoma-granting Wishes to kids with Life Threatening Illness/Disease. Grayson County CASA-Court Appointed Special Advocates for Child Abuse Victims, and The Rehabilitation Center-Speech, Occupational, and Physical Therapy. I Volunteer for the City Meals On Wheels, and the Senior Citizens Center as well as various Festivals and City Activities and Committees.”

What are some of the greatest challenges you see facing the city either now or in the future and how do you plan to address it as a city council member?

Hander: “Our greatest challenge facing our city is the need to update our infrastructure, including streets and water & sewer utilities. As a councilmember, I would like to further our capital improvements spending on these projects to insure we are ready for new growth that is coming to our area. We must address the infrastructure in our historic neighborhoods as well. I would like to make sure we continue with the Main Street Streetscape Plan that will upgrade a massive amount of infrastructure in our downtown core. It’s imperative that these plans are supported while finding unique funding opportunities to provide the necessary capital for the improvements.”

Guess: “When it comes to the city’s growing pains Economically, Infrastructure and Fire/ EMS. We already have Preliminary Plans for each. We have a plan to Repave or Overlay Streets that we’re identified with the most need. We have a plan already started to upgrade our Water System. We have a Committee Meeting, Researching, and Developing a plan for Fire/ EMS.”