ABILENE, Texas - The race for the mayor's office might be the most hotly contested race in Abilene in years.
Thursday the candidates had a chance to talk about what issues are important to them during a half-hour live debate presented by KTXS and McMurry University.
Incumbent Mayor Norm Archibald has held office in Abilene for 10 years. His challenger, Robert Briley has served on city council for six years. Both are well known in the Key City.
"I don't want to be the mayor forever," Archibald said. "You can trust me on that. I do not want to be the mayor forever, but I do want to be the mayor for the next three years because of the issues we're going to be talking about and the problems that we're going to be handling."
"I understand what the city needs,"Briley said. "I know that I can make a difference and it's time for change."
The two hopefuls said the city needs water, but they disagree on how to get it.
Briley said we should be using water from Possum Kingdom until the Cedar Ridge Reservoir is completed.
"It won't be long that we're going to go from once a week water to once every two weeks," Briley said. "And that's troubling, especially when we have the rights to the water and we haven't taken action on it."
"It will be more expensive to treat the water from Possum Kingdom than to build Cedar Ridge and have all of that water to ourselves and treat it because of the quality of the water," said Archibald.
"I'm worried about the water today, not tomorrow. We've got that in place. I've voted for every single time," Briley said.
Archibald and Briley agree sidewalks throughout the city won't happen overnight.
"It would take millions upon millions to put sidewalks everywhere. So we have to prioritize those," Archibald said.
The candidates also discussed how they have created jobs.
"Well one of the things that I'm very proud of is when Abilene helped bring the School of Pharmacy and the School of Nursing to Abilene," Archibald said.
"The main thing we need to do to create jobs is we need to have water for today," Briley said. "If we start advertising and people start finding out that we don't get the water from Possum Kingdom, if we don't have that in place, then people aren't going to want to come to Abilene."
What do the candidates say separates them?
"He's more of an institution guy and I'm more of a small businessman," said Briley.
"I think this is an election where experience counts, especially because of the things were going to be challenged do in the next three years," said Archibald.
The city election takes place May 10.
Early voting starts on Monday.
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