ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – On this week’s edition of Big Country Politics, News Director Manny Diaz sat with City Council Place 3 candidate James Sargent. Sargent served in the U.S. Air Force for ten years and is the owner of Auto Aide Repair in Abilene.

In the past, Sargent ran for place 5 on the city council. He decided to throw his name in the ring again because of his efforts to serve the community, something he and his family holds to heart.

“It’s not about the title of city council member, it’s about the position of being a city council member, which would merely be an extension of who I already am and what I’m already doing and will continue to do going forward, and that’s serving the members of our community,” Sargent explained.

In his campaign, he mentions being biblically founded and constitutionally grounded.

“Biblically founded and constitutionally grounded is a trusted foundation of which our individual rights to liberties are outlined and protected,” Sargent shared. “The biblical principles that were utilized in the founding of our country, like civic structure, equitable law, preserving civil and religious liberties and public morality are all protected by the U.S. Constitution. They provide a legal and moral framework in which I guide my life.”

Sargent added that this shows that he has a set of morals and values that he will serve and protect.

“Just as I did in the military, I fought to protect our freedoms and I will fight to protect our freedoms as citizens in our community,” Sargent stated.

Although Sargent has run in the past, he shared that there is a different feel this year while running for council.

“The field definitely looks different this year. We have three new opponents so no matter what, there’s going to be a new council member in this position and I believe that I am the most well-rounded and best-suited individual for this position,” said Sargent.

Sargent has been a big supporter of the sanctuary city ordinance that was passed last year. He said this is related to the willful intent of taking a human life, but there are resources available for those facing this.

“My heart does go out to the families and the mothers facing the fears and the challenges of not only pregnancy but also raising a child. But to them, I say, ‘You are strong, you are not alone, you don’t have to do this alone. Our community has many resources, churches and organizations that are able and willing to help you.'”

Some of the top issues Sargent wants to focus on are taxes, road conditions and public safety. To him, these topics can be addressed with communication, trust and transparency between city council members and citizens.

“I believe it all boils down to and starts with improving communication with our citizens in a transparent manner,” Sargent explained. “Now when there’s more transparency with how our tax dollars are spent, we can then earn more of the trust of our citizens and collectively and openly work together to improve our city.”

Sargent shared that on the Abilene 2022-2023 budget, the tax generated from the downtown hotel would be used to fund a debt service agreement. He added that construction for city facilities is funded by private donations and excess general fund reserves.

“The city has budgeted 29.1 million dollars for the construction of those facilities, but yet, we have park facilities kids are playing in that are outdated, they have leaky roofs and safety concerns,” Sargent pointed out.

Abilene has a debt of approximately $360 million in debt, which can accumulate up to more than $475 million by about 2041.

“It’s a simple process of looking at, that we can’t borrow our way out of debt. That we can’t spend our way out of recession, so let’s look at budgeting for what really matters to our community and benefits our citizens as a whole,” Sargent called to action.

Sargent said the city has made progress, but more can be done.

“I’m not going to sit here and bad mouth our current city administration, but I do believe there’s some improvements that can be made and it starts in transparency, it starts in effective communication,” Sargent expressed.

Sargent shared he thinks the city can move communication through documents shared with the community such as a breakdown of city council meetings for those who cannot attend.

He encourages the community to reach out to him with any concerns, whether it’s through his social media, in the community or even at his shop.

“I’m here to serve our community and no matter what that form it, so if you have a concern, it concerns me. I’m wanting to hear from you,” expressed Sargent.

This year, four candidates are running for place 3 on the city council, Blaise Regan, Shawnte Fleming, Cynthia Alvidrez and James Sargent. You can go to Sargent’s Facebook page or his website to learn more about him.