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

On election night, Hurt was chosen by residents of Abilene to serve as the next mayor. Since then, Hurt said he has received much support and is ready to work in this new position.

“I’m thrilled, overwhelmed and so grateful for all of this support… now it’s just getting the job done,” Hurt shared. “I just felt that we have a lot good things going in our city and I could be the person to continue to lead us that way.”

Last week on Big Country Politics, McMurry professor of political science-Dr. Paul Fabrizio said, “If Weldon Hurt is elected what he represents is I would argue the establishment here in the City of Abilene. What he represents is a continuation of largely the same policies that we’ve had over the last several years. I view as someone that’s not going to upend the apple cart, but someone who is going to be another person that speaks for the business community of Abilene.” Hurt responded to this comment, focusing on the term ‘establishment.’

“If you’re for someone who’s actively, very actively involved in the community, for economic development and growth in our city, for our city to thrive more, to grow, to just keep things going in a positive direction; I guess I am a part of the establishment,” Hurt expressed. “But yes, if I’m for positive growth of our city, I guess go ahead and call me a part of the establishment.”

Hurt has mentioned that the budget is one of the first things he wants to tackle, as well as infield development.

“There’s a lot of moving parts on that, you know. That means meeting with all of our boards, looking at how our code compliance officers are working, adding more code compliance officers to the city staff and getting all of this to work together in unison,” Hurt explained.

In the past, Hurt has also mentioned a focus from the city council on land development, not just for commercial sale but for new houses as well around Abilene, certainly in older areas of town to encourage builders and maybe give some incentives to get some single-family homes built. Hurt shared that this is still something he is focusing on.

“It’s vitally important and we’ll use a term that Mayor Barr had used years and yeas ago. It’s the donut effect and it’s when the city starts growing out and the inside of your city starts dying. So, that’s what were doing, what were wanting to do is revitalize that,” Hurt shared. “It’ll be a contagious effect, once we start getting some of these houses in these neighborhoods, it’ll be contagious. More people will want, you know, to have a nice home in these older neighborhoods. It’s just getting the ball rolling.”

Title 42, which was put in place in March of 2020 during the Trump administration to stop the introduction of communicable diseases such as COVID-19 to regulate border crossings, came to an end this week. Governor Abbott has sent migrants all over the country from the border. Meanwhile, Abilene is roughly four hours from the Del Rio border. Hurt shared leaders of this city are closely monitoring what’s going on along the border?

“I think we all have to be very cautious of what’s going on, you know. Of course, our heart goes out to our neighbors down there on the border and the issues that they’re having, but we know there will be an influx coming this way,” Hurt said. “Generally with that comes a higher crime rate, more homeless rate, more theft and a list of things like that, so we have to be prepared and ready for that.”

Hurt shared that one solution is to lower the amount of time it takes for immigrants to receive a card and be able to work.

“If we could speed that process up… We need workforce, badly, and we have people coming in to our country that are here, but yet they can’t work,” explained Hurt. “If I give a person a job, he’s less likely to have to steal to provide for his family… I understand we don’t need to let criminals just walk around from other countries into our country and I know that’s important. But if we can just vet that process and get the ones that are ready, willing and able to work quicker, I think it would help us all out.”