Lake Highlands residents who attended Monday’s candidate forum said they’re familiar with Councilman Jerry Allen’s body of work as District 10’s representative on the city council, and came to the event to hear how challenger Don Sanders would approach the job.

The two answered questions about redevelopment in Lake Highlands, code compliance, crime, the pending Lake Highlands Town Center and convention center hotel projects and city services.

Sanders told the crowd of more than 75 people "first I’ll listen, then I’ll speak," and would always act in the interests of the majority of Lake Highlands residents.
That resonated well with Lake Highlands resident J.C. Reneau.

"I think the answers for both of them were relatively the same and didn’t have much difference in them," he said. "I was impressed with Don saying he would rely more on more on the input on the people of the district before he made a decision because I think that’s really important."

Sanders said increasing the number of town hall meetings would be an important part of his strategy as a councilman, going as far to say he would host them at least twice a month.

Allen said that wasn’t feasible, nor would it be effective.

"Town halls are good for the people that come, they’re appropriate under the correction situation," Allen said. "But generally people today communicate differently."

In defending his record of accessibility to voters, Allen said while he’s only hosted four town hall meetings in his 22 months in office, he’s attended more than 1,800 meetings and received more than 28,000 e-mails from constituents.

Audience members were split on the breadth of the topics discussed. While some wanted to hear the candidates speak on city-wide issues like the Trinity River Corridor, other were glad the discussion stuck mostly to District 10-specific issues.

"Tonight was about Lake Highlands," resident Peggy Hill said.