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Roller-coaster election set for May 10

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The Ellis County Press

             WILMER – This southern Dallas County town’s roller-coaster city council election will be decided on Saturday, but controversy abounds over the eligibility of one candidate to the registered sex offender status of another and to the group aligned with former mayor Linda Root.

            Incumbent Don Hudson, a former councilman, is vying for a second two-year term against former councilwoman Teresa Bain and James Brian Sliter, a registered sex offender; Sliter’s candidacy drew international headlines after The Ellis County Press published a chart of the candidates, of which Sliter then used to contact local television stations informing them of his record.

Sliter then withdrew from the race after an ECP Internet radio show, but due to the deadline passing for withdrawn candidates, the Root-backed candidate could still pull in enough votes to win the mayor’s seat.

Sliter declined to comment about the possibility of him winning the race, but Hudson believes he’ll keep his seat.

“I think I have a lot to offer the city of Wilmer,” said Hudson, who has faced criticism over questions about a brick home he built outside of Palmer. Hudson maintains he’s still a Wilmer resident. “I've been mayor of this city from when we started the new buliding in town and when the Union Pacific [intermodal] first opened up. I can continue giving the residents what it takes to keep up this town moving in a new direction.

“The fact that we got the union labor building out there added tax base as well as helped in  negotiating new business’,” he said. “Evidentially with the industrial growth in the city, I would like to have land set aside for housing…with residential growth leads to retail [like grocery stores, etcetera] which in turn, is being just a well rounded town. I would ultimately like to have the citizens work, shop and live in the same city.”

Bain, after several attempts to reach her, did not return questionnaire answers.

            One-year term
            Incumbent Mary Evans originally requested a questionnaire via e-mail, but when contacted after she was sent questions, she declined to comment “at this time.”
            Two challengers are aiming to take her place for the unexpired term: Stan Bell, who said he’s wanting to change the direction at city hall and former Councilwoman Marlena Hagen, whose husband helped the former mayor (Root) spearhead a lawsuit against the ECP several years ago.

            “Several people asked me to run because they felt [a] change was well overdue at city hall,” Bell said. “They had confidence that I could make an improvement to the current situation.”

            A former ally of Root, Hagen said she had no part in the lawsuit – an alleged libel case - against the paper for reporting on the mayor’s husband at public council meetings. Root and her allies later lost the case in Dallas County district court.

            “I wasn't involved in that [lawsuit],” Hagen said. “I was not involved in any lawsuit with any of the press for anything. That was strictly a Linda Root thing.”

            Hagen’s ex- husband (she notified ECP to say it was her ex) called this newspaper threatening legal action if the ECP published a story about Root’s husband, who had at the time been attending council meetings and at one point, grabbed an elderly man from behind. The suit, for $50,000, was also aimed at Hudson and other political opponents of Root.

            Bell and Hagen both said they are running to change the direction of the council, as well as promote more growth in the city.

            Large warehouses are being built without adequate control by the city,” Bell said. “Enforcement of building codes is lax. Proper set-backs, green areas and other issues that would add to the quality of life in Wilmer need to be addressed. Notice the lack of soil erosion fences required by state law. Notice there is no safety fence around a huge retention pond next to the service road which never drains making it a nice place for mosquitoes. A resident on South Dallas Avenue [said] that her house was flooded because the construction site adjacent to her property was not properly draining at the time.”

            Hagen said she doesn’t want favoritism to any one particular developer.

            I don't want all residential, commercial and retail,” she said. “I want school growth. I want any company to come to Wilmer and try to grow. I don't want favoritism with different builders. What each builder can give to Wilmer not what each builder can give to council members like has happened before in Wilmer. That's basically why I am running.”


            Two-year term
            Two incumbents are running for re-election, but they have four opponents vying for their jobs.

            Councilwoman Tiny Lange said a family emergency prevented her from submitting answers to a questionnaire, but incumbent Billy Wickliffe could not be reached for comment after several attempts. Candidate James Jistel’s contact information was not correct in listings this paper received.

            Matias Leal, however, said he is sick and tired of the corruption at city hall and wants a change.

            “Honestly, I am sick and tired of all the [BS] from the current council,” the 53-year-old owner of Dallas Tortilla said. “I'm not a politician, I'm a business man. I care about straight forwardness with the people. I'm all about taking a common-sense approach to matters, which is something the current city council I don't think has. It's a no- nonsense job and it shouldn't be dealt with any other way.”

            Dennis and Vicky Vandeygriff are a married couple vying for the two seats, and both said they want honesty in their city council.  

            “We are really concerned about the city,” they said in a joint questionnaire answer sheet. “[We want] honest government [and] taxpayers’ money to benefit the city and change come to Wilmer in the area of growth and improvement.”

            Jon Aldrich, meanwhile, isn’t in the race, but his blog has stirred the interest in the Wilmer election.

            “I have plenty of opinions about the elections here in Wilmer,” said the publisher of the Wilmer Public Citizen. “Most all of them are posted on my blog. Like I have said, it’s [kind of] a horse race out there.”

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