ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – On this week’s edition of Big Country Politics, News Director Manny Diaz sat with mayoral candidate Weldon Hurt. Hurt currently sits on the city council in place 4 and is the owner of Pest Patrol.

Hurt has served on the council for almost two terms now, something that has given him a sense of how the city operates.

“I’ve learned just how the city works, how budgets work, how you procure bids, things like that. How our charter works within city government,” Hurt said.

He pointed out that people will say they will endure a balanced budget for the city, however, he said that comes with the job to start with.

“Budgets are a big deal… People will say, you know, the first thing I want to do is balance the budget. Well, by law, the city has to have a balanced budget,” Hurt explained.

Hurt was the first to throw his name into the running for mayor and is running against Dasi Reddy, Chad Clark and Ryan Goodwin. In previous elections, Hurt has never been opposed but believes it is healthier to be opposed. He said his prior experience has set him apart from other candidates.

“I appreciate anyone willing to give their time to serve in this capacity… I think that having contested races makes it a little bit healthier because we do, we talk a lot more about different issues,” Hurt expressed. “I believe the experience I’ve has on council and knowing how our government works, and how the charter is written and how to follow those laws. I think that gives me a step up in running for mayor because I have that experience.”

Hurt shared he has enjoyed the race so far and meeting with the community throughout his campaign.

“It’s been exciting, I won’t deny that… We get to have a lot more conversations, a lot more people want to be involved in the conversations,” said Hurt. “When you’re unopposed, nobody really wants to talk to you… well, it’s still important, issues are still important, it’s good to have those conversations.”

Hurt has tried to run a positive campaign and strives to look at the good things they’ve been able to do.

“Anything you do you can always do better, but I want to build off the positive,” Hurt expressed.

With the help of the Development corporation of Abilene, current mayor Anthony Williams has advocated for bringing big businesses to the Key City, something Hurt wants to continue. He shared that the DCOA has done a great job at selecting the best-fitted industries for Abilene and planning.

“The DCOA has done an excellent job… definitely, just want to stay out of their way. I like working closely with them and the ideas that they’re bringing,” Hurt shared. “Always looking at the strategies with the DCOA on not just bringing a business, but what business are going to work better for Abilene and the Big Country.”

Hurt added that he thinks the city council will focus on land and development, not just for commercial sale but for new houses as well around Abilene.

“We would like to look at some of these older areas of town, encourage builders and maybe give some incentives to get some single-family homes built in some of these older areas that are affordable,” Hurt explained. “We just need to encourage some new housing, affordable housing in those areas.”

He is also looking to improve older housing, possibly through grants, to fix things such as porches or fix safety hazards. Infrastructure is something that has been talked about a lot throughout this election, especially road improvements.

“Everyone talks about the streets. You know, since we’ve implemented the street maintenance fee, we’ve gone from spending $750 thousand a year, to between nine and 12 million dollars a year. We’ve hit the surface of almost 25 percent of our streets in that four to five-year period,” added Hurt. “I think the street maintenance fee is doing its job.”

However, he added that this leaves around 75% of streets untouched with a ways to go.

“I think, just driving around town you see a lot more streets that are fixed. That doesn’t mean we’re anywhere close… I understand that,” explained Hurt. “But I think that we are addressing those in a way now that has been neglected and in a way that is not such a strain tax-wise.”

Throughout the race, Hurt has faced folks that are critical of him, including candidates from other races. He shared that if he is elected alongside these candidates, he will work with them as communication is key.

“If I’m elected and they’re elected, that’s a done deal, we have to work together. Screaming and yelling and calling names, I’m just not going to get into that, I’ll just deal with however best I can,” Hurt expressed. “But, to get anything done, we have to communicate and we have to talk, we have to work things out.”

To learn more about Hurt, he has a Facebook page and his number is (325) 439-0915 for those who would like to get in touch.