Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

May 7, 2013

Election 2013: Candidates share thoughts on governance, city policy

Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Kenneth Melvin:


I have greatly enjoyed serving as Mayor for the last two years, and I ask you to consider re-electing me in the upcoming election. If re-elected, I will continue to serve all citizens of Jacksonville.

Let's go back to the Mayoral Debate of April 22. I brought up the fact that the City had invested around $400,000 to purchase a Ladder Fire Truck. Mr. Gowin did not deem this as a wise expenditure. He thought the money should have been spent on beautification of downtown; i.e., new sidewalks. Now let's go back to Sunday, April 28, when a fire at Yum Yum's restaurant occurred.

It has been said by fire officials that had it not been for our ladder truck and trucks from Rusk and Tyler, the fire would not have been contained to one building. My question to Mr. Gowin is "what good are new sidewalks, when there are no store fronts left standing?" Mr. Gowin also said during the debate, that he would increase property taxes in order to beautify downtown; is this tax money well spent?

Mr. Igbokwe and Mr. Gowin both said what they would do if elected. Gentleman, please be advised that neither of you can do nothing alone. It takes a majority vote to approve or deny any motion.

You get a single vote, as do the other council members.

To the Citizens of Jacksonville: Please know that I would appreciate your vote to re-elect Kenneth Melvin as Mayor for the City of Jacksonville.

Thank you so much.

Kenneth  Melvin


Rob Gowin:

Dear Jacksonville,

A friend told me the other day that I was crazy for running for Mayor. My response to him and others who have questioned my candidacy is this: I love my hometown.  After graduating from Baylor University, I moved home to be close to my family; a family that has lived here for generations.  Jacksonville is the best place to live in East Texas, but I always say, even the best can do better. Improving Jackson-ville and the quality of life for our residents and business community is my only goal. If you think there is room for improvement in our town, Let’s Get Gowin!

As your Mayor, I believe we can do better.  

I am running for Mayor of Jacksonville because I love Jackson-ville.  My love for our city can be seen in the investment I’ve made in the heart of Downtown at Sadler’s Restaurant– where we turned an old building into a thriving business.  My love for Jacksonville can be seen in the jobs I have created for our residents.  

Because I love Jacksonville, I get upset when I’m told our city is doing “good enough,” that “everything is fine,” and that “we cannot do better.”  

As your Mayor, I won’t be satisfied with “good enough;” I won’t be satisfied with the “status quo.” I travel throughout East Texas and see cities being redefined. I see cities that are successful in economic development.  And I see cities around us that are successful in their progress and forward momentum.

If you agree that we can create new opportunities and move our town forward, Let’s Get Gowin!

Jacksonville is in good shape financially, and the Council and Mayor Melvin deserve credit for that.  But I don’t see financial stability as an accomplishment; I see it as an opportunity.   Many people are scared because of the economy.  For years, our country’s economy has struggled to recover.  We have lost jobs and industry to foreign markets. We have lost local businesses.  

And as a small businessman, I feel the pain so many of us are going through. Tough times call for tough decisions. It is proven that those who invest during a down economy, those who take advantage of opportunities, can be the most successful.  

Now more than ever we should invest in Jacksonville. If you share in my belief that our town is worth investing in, Let’s Get Gowin!

For Jacksonville, we must look at each challenge as an opportunity. Tourists from big cities aren’t taking weeklong vacations to faraway places – so let’s bring them here.

Jacksonville has plenty to offer, from shopping and dining, to our outdoor activities. Lake Jacksonville and Love’s Lookout, and our many historical buildings are unique to us. We enjoy a diverse culture.

But we have to tell our story, and we must have a strong business community when people visit. If you believe we can tell our story better, Let’s Get Gowin!

We can revitalize our downtown and the city at large to create jobs. We can create a friendlier business environment with a city hall that works for the community. We can turn the jobs we create into investments in parks and beautification for our city. And in these tough economic times, we must strengthen the relationship between the Chamber of Commerce, JEDCO, and city government.

It is only through a strong working relationship between all of these groups responsible for our success as a city, that we can accomplish our goals of prosperity and progress. If you believe in a united front for our city, Let’s Get Gowin!

My question to the voters of Jacksonville is simple – can we do better? Can we clean up our city and build a better downtown? Do we invest in our current infrastructure, or build new buildings? Can we attract more tourists and create more jobs? Can we redefine our town?  

I believe in Jacksonville, I believe in our people, and I believe we can accomplish any goals that we set.

If you share in my goals and vision, then I ask for your vote.

If you believe we can do these things, Let’s Get Gowin!

Very Truly Yours,

Rob Gowin



William Igbokwe:


Citizens of Jacksonville,

Since returning home to offer my bid for public office, I’ve been graced with numerous opportunities to address the community en masse, albeit behind a slew of designated, candidate-oriented adjectives: young, ambitious, candid, idealistic, et cetera.

Today, if I may, I would like to address you as just William, a fellow citizen.

Jacksonville, Texas, boasts a relatively small, but strong community, and this is not by coincidence. Since its official inception during the mid-1800s, the individuals who pioneered Jackson-ville during the pre-Civil War era intentionally crafted the core tenants of our city to revolve around community culture and fortitude. It is with these tenants of our city’s historic past in mind that I wish to address our city’s future:

As it stands today, the spirit of culture remains strong in our community. However, in regards to the tangible indicators used to measure a city’s health, Jacksonville teeters on the brink of irrelevancy. It is not enough for a community of citizens to thrive solely on past ingenuities and centuries old traditions: Jacksonville, Texas, must evolve its infrastructure, its relationship with business, and its approach to education investment in order to sustain itself as we progress further into the 21st century. It must also promote civic responsibility and establish an early rapport with local youth. Though many of these objectives require long-term application, their strategic development merely requires collaborative thought.

Take, for instance, the most pressing issue in Jacksonville; the job market. During the Mayoral debate two weeks ago, the current Mayor disingenuously suggested that my solution for the town’s business woes was a proverbial lasso, so that I could unceremoniously “force” businesses into Jacksonville. That is patently false.

Like many, I am completely aware that the city’s relationship to job growth is more perpendicular than parallel. Meaning, city government’s contribution to growing and sustaining businesses in Jacksonville is indirect and bifurcated. City government must work harder to create an environment that attracts businesses (enhancing our city’s aesthetics would be a great starting point), as well as working harder to communicate and collaborate with our city’s business owners so that the city may better gauge and assuage the needs of our community’s business sector. We do not require a “lasso” to bring businesses to Jacksonville; we do, however, require effort and brainpower.

Save for education, the most important, long-term investment for Jacksonville, Texas, is the beautification, renovation, and upkeep of the community’s landscape and infrastructure. Make no mistake about it, as long as Jacksonville continues to resemble a city trapped in the grips of the latest recession, the uphill climb to resuscitate the city’s job market will remain steeper than necessary. The aforementioned is true because business growth and community aesthetics are inextricably linked. We must remember that the community’s vested interest in keeping the city clean and appealing transcends community pride; it is a foundation for job growth. We cannot lasso businesses into Jacksonville, Texas. We can, however, clean up our city and pave the way for businesses of the future to willingly call Jacksonville home.     

Jacksonville, Texas, must also remember its youth, and properly invest in education and engagement. If Jacksonville is to transform itself into a 21st century city – capable of not only competing for jobs in the East Texas market, but creating them as well – it must invest more thoroughly in an early relationship with our young citizens, the very people most likely to commandeer the jobs and economy of tomorrow.

At twenty-three years old, I have returned home to a city that is perched at the same crossroad of growth and apathy that it was perched on prior to my departure for the University of Texas at Austin in 2008. In Austin, I discovered that the beauty of our country’s electoral process is that, in theory, we do not receive that for which we do not demand. However, in that same respect, we can only receive if we demand.

Fortunately, on Saturday, May 11th, Jacksonville, Texas will receive the same, biennial opportunity of self-reflection that municipalities across Texas receive. And there are only two questions that Jacksonville need ask itself:

1. Do we demand progress?

2. If yes, what type of progress are we demanding?


William Igbokwe