Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

April 22, 2013

Candidates face off tonight in debate

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Is everything all right in Jacksonville?

Three candidates representing three generations of Jacksonville resident will attempt to answer that question Monday.

Incumbent Mayor Kenneth Melvin, 72; local restauranteur Rob Gowin, 44; and newcomer William Igbokwe, 23, each will outline their political platforms during this year's mayoral debate, 7 p.m. Monday at the Norman Activity Center.

It's a rarity in Jacksonville to get any opposed race, much less three citizens vying for the same slot – so this is a very unique race.

Jacksonville Daily Progress Editor Amy Brocato Pearson will moderate the exchange between candidates and ensure continuity during the proceedings.

Citizens who wish to submit questions to the candidates can do so over the weekend by emailing editor@jackson-villeprogress.com and listing their complete name, city of residence, cell phone or home number and the comments they wish repeated.

KENNETH MELVIN – Incumbent Mayor Kenneth Melvin, who turns 73 in May, has said he is seeking a second term as a vote of confidence in the way Jacksonville officials currently are managing city affairs.

In addition to the city's many department heads, Melvin has specifically voiced unequivocal support for City Manager Mo Raissi, Police Chief Reece Daniel, Fire Chief Paul White and Public Works Director Will Cole.

Melvin first won the mayoral seat by 31 votes over opponent Jeff Smith in May 2011.

Melvin has voiced extreme pride in the city's lack of need for a tax increase over the past decade or so and its ability to operate effectively and efficiently.

ROB GOWIN – Local restauranteur Rob Gowin, 44, owner of Sadler's Kitch-en, is making his first run at the office of mayor.

But he said he's ready to tackle some of the major issues facing the city.

Gowin and William Igbokwe both have indicated they intend to make full use of social media and digital information in their respective campaigns.

Already with a big fan base situated on his Facebook page, voter turnout is important to Gowin, who noted that a small margin of voters determined the last mayoral election.

He already made some things clear – politically speaking: Gowin is looking to build up the city from his perspective. Not tear it down.

WILLIAM IGBOKWE – Admittedly the youngest candidate in they mayoral race, William Igbok-we said he hopes to invol-ve more youth culture in the voting process.

He certainly is going to make use of social media, as well as the upcoming Monday debate  to help springboard his campaign.

Prepare  for an Internet campaign onslaught on Twitter and Facebook, he and his campaign team say.

He's one of the youngest candidates – and is believed to be the only African American – to run for the office.

A big fan of uniting youth culture with government, Igbokwe said he is looking to shake things up in a positive way and close the gap between local government and the community.

Debate Rules



Role: To emcee the evening, to introduce everyone, to explain the reason for the evening and the way that it will work, to ensure fairness and order


Role:  To answer the questions asked of them and to demonstrate that they are the best candidate for Mayor of Jacksonville, Texas.

Time Keeper:  

Role:  To keep time and inform candidates when the time is up and when it is time for the next segment of the debate to begin.


– The moderator will welcome everyone, explain the need for the meeting, explain the format of the meeting (including time limits) and introduce the candidates.

– The candidates will have 3 minutes each to introduce themselves.   

– The opening question will be asked by the moderator to the incumbent mayor. The re-maining candidates will answer in alphabetical order: Melvin, Gowin and Igbokwe. Each candidate will have two minutes to answer the question. After all candidates have answered, there will be opportunity for a 30 second clarification of statements.

– Debate questions will be formulated by the staff of the Jacksonville Daily Progress.

Questions will be solicited from the community in advance and vetted by the staff before being presented at the debate.

The formal part of the debate will last approximately one hour.