The incumbent Victoria County commissioner for Precinct 4 and his challenger shared their ideas Monday night about juvenile detention, hurricane recovery and managing the county-owned hospital.
Victoria County commissioner Precinct 4 covers the northwest section of the county.
Clint Ives, who was first elected in January 2011, said he has worked to reduce the county budget and its tax rate durng his tenure while offering more services.
Mark Schroller, the challenger and an Inez resident, is a Victoria native who currently works for The Dow Chemical Company as a technology leader for its apprenticeship program. He said that if elected, this would be his first time working for the public and that he has the needed experience for the position.
More than 40 Victoria residents attended Monday’s debate in the University of Houston-Victoria North building as the two Republican candidates debated the issues before the March 6 primary election.
Schroller said that although he thought strengthing building codes was a good idea, damage in Victoria County was mostly storm debris.
Ives said there was no right or wrong answer because codes are part of a state inspection process. However, he said he does support stricter building codes if they do not deter development in area communities.
Schroller explained that he served as a hurricane coordinator for Dow, which included planning and overseeing the safety of workers.
Ives said no lives were lost in the hurricane.
Ives said Victoria was very prepared and that a full recovery is a long-term process still being handled by recovery meetings.
Schroller said planning was an issue for him. He said a better checklist and better coordination is needed for storm preparation.
Ives responded that the emergency management coordinator works with the area leaders to make those decisions about preparation collectively.
Schroller said that from his perspective he has worked with a company team when he was the hurricane coordinator.
Improving county roads
Schroller said residents have come to him with complaints about the quality of roads and that stop signs have not been picked up across Victoria.
He said a system should be in place to monitor and alert people about road work.
Ives said during the past seven years, he has addressed fixing more roads. Road signs are being fixed weekly and the rate of paving has doubled, he said.
Schroller said priorities need to be refocused because a downed stop sign poses a risk for residents.
Ives said stop signs fall lower in the process when compared to fixing roads.
Citzens Medical Center
Ives said commissioners do not have direct authority over hospitals and that Citizens Medical Center provides outstanding health care.
“How do we keep these doors open and provide the best health care?” he said.
Schroller said more ways to attract more doctors are needed, he said.
Ives said recruiting for new positions to Victoria is not an easy task.
“It’s expensive to recruit,” he said. “It’s easier said than done.”
Schroller said commissioners can act as advocates for resident they have an issue.
Regional juvenile justice center.
Ives said the issue in 2015 surrounded the the center’s budget when officials considered closing the center.
“We have to hold our departments accountable for their tax dollars,” he said.
Commissioners addressed the issue by making repairs to the center and redefining detention contracts with other counties, he said.
Schroller said he did not agree with how officials approached the situation.
Closing the center should not have been an option because of the center’s benefits, he said.
Ives responded that the center was losing millions annually and the county was liable for its unsafe conditions. Steps are being taken, he said, to get the facility back on track to accommodate the juveniles.
Schroller said officials went in with a plan to shut is down and the commissioners court agreed.
In closing, Schroller said he has the leadership qualities for to represent part of Victoria County.
“I have the ability to build relationships with people,” he said.
Ives said he has been part of lowering the tax rate.
“We’ve done more and spent less,” he said.