ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – In this week’s edition of Big Country Politics, Big Country Homepage hosted newly elected Place 4 Abilene City Council Member Brian Yates.

On election night, Yates earned 65 percent of the vote over Scott Beard to serve as Abilene’s next place 4 city council member and was sworn in on Tuesday in the city council chambers succeeding Weldon Hurt.

“The election process was exhausting and you should give credit to all of the people who were willing to step up and go through that because it was a lot,” said Yates. “There’s absolutely a sigh of relief to have it completed and have a resolution to be able to focus forward and focus on the city.”

A subject that was discussed throughout the election and is always an issue among voters is the maintenance of the city streets, something Yates was introduced to this election season.

“Everybody has something to say about the streets,” said Yates. “We are on a good path to resolve this and have a sustainable street program.”

When it comes to a resolution to addressing Abilene’s streets Yates claimed the process is not a quick fix.

“You’re looking at another ten years before you’ve made your way around the city to repave all of the streets,” said Yates. “If you fix all of the streets at once, in fifteen years they’re going to wear out at once and you’re going to have the same problem.”

Prior to the election, McMurry professor of political science-Dr. Paul Fabrizio told KTAB/KRBC that he believed the test of the strength between the religious and value-based viewpoint versus the business and economic point of view was evident in this May election.

“I’m not saying that Brian Yates isn’t religious or anything like that. It’s just where is their focus. I think that the religious focus, orientation, and values of Scott Beard are much more upfront with him,” said Dr. Fabrizio. 

Council Member Yates added his thoughts regarding the discussion.

“I’m certainly not anti-religion. I go to church, I believe in God and I have conservative values. When you get down to it my values weren’t that different from Pastor Beards,” said Yates. “The difference was how do you want to achieve those? Do you want to persuade and have a shared value in your community or do you want to have your government impose those values? I do not think that’s an appropriate use of government at any level.”

Yates a retired Colonel of the United States Air Force added his approach of how he would navigate the waters of values vs. business as a member of the Abilene City Council.

“I approach this from the perspective of you should persuade people that your values are the best way and you do that by listening to them,” said Yates.

In addition to the discussion of the maintenance of Abilene streets and values vs. business, Yates talked about his introduction to tackling the upcoming city budget.

“Being in a bureaucracy before in the Air Force I’m familiar with the budget process as a general thing,” said Yates. It’s really about learning the specifics of where we spend our money.”

Yates added that the upcoming City of Abilene budget is in the neighborhood of $315 million and with over 70 percent of the budget consumed by city employees there is not a lot of room for wholesale changes unless cuts in employment are made which the council does not want to do. claimed there’s not a lot of room for big changes.

“You just want to make smart choices not dramatic changes, but you want to listen to all sides.”