The candidates for Lubbock County Commissioner in Precincts 1 and 3 met for a debate Tuesday. Organizers say all the questions were submitted by Lubbock citizens or asked by those attending the debate. Most of the questions had to deal with the county budget and taxes.
The debate was hosted by South Plains Area Residents Taxpayers Action Network, or SPARTAN, and moderated by SPARTAN Chair Mikel Ward. Representing Precinct 1 was incumbent and Republican Bill McCay and Democrat John Miller. Representing Precinct 3 was Democrat Gilbert Flores and Republican Frank Gutierrez.
There were many questions raised at the debate between candidates Tuesday night. The recent increase in property taxes was raised with some candidates discussing the new county jail.
"My main objective is to lower our tax rate. I want to lower our tax rate somewhere from two to three years that can be done," said Flores.
"We've had these tax increases each year and each year they blamed it on the jail and said that you overwhelming approved this thing," said Miller.
"What I propose to do in terms of finding money to finance this new jail that we've got to have is that we are going to review every department of the county," said Gutierrez.
"Good news is Lubbock County is growing, bad news is so is our jail population. We have about 1,000-1,200 individuals arrested per month and that's about 13,000 a year so our jail population continues to grow," said McCay.
Precinct 1 candidates disagreed on what should be done with the old jail.
"When the last inmate leaves that old jail, I'm going to turn the lights out. Because we've voted for the new jail with the understanding the old jail was going away," said Miller.
"If we can refurbish that facility with the minimum expense than we can in turn lease that facility to a company that can house inmates we can certainly pursue that," said McCay.
Precinct 3 candidates had their own disagreements.
"The old jail was built in 1934 in 1982 there was a great study made by the commissioners during the process of the proposal of the new jail in every detail. We knew what was going to happen within the next four to five years there was a projection made," said Flores.
"It's a matter of finding out how are we going to pay for this jail. It's needed, it's done, let's move on and find ways to continue to provide the public with this much needed service," said Gutierrez.
Questions from the audience were also taken, the only time the debate got heated, was when the question was raised of the county's hiring of minorities.
The County Commissioner elections will be November 4th.
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