Two council districts in Waco, District 1 and 3 , have contested city council races this election year.
The City of Waco general election is May 7. Early voting is April 25 through May 3. The candidates for council District 1 are Wilbert Austin and Mark Stephen Shaw. For council District 3 the candidates are Dustin Weins and John Kinnaird.
Austin is currently a city councilman for District 1 and has held the position since May 2006. He graduated from A.H. Moore High School in Waco and attended Guadalupe Seminary in 1990. He is the pastor of Peaceful Rest Baptist Church in Moody.
Austin said he thinks Waco citizens should vote for him because of the work he has already done. He said when he became a city councilman, Waco was hardly anything. Just years after he became a councilman, Elm Street is back up, there are three medical clinics and two fire stations, he said. Austin also said \crime rates have dropped.
“It’s just amazing what has happened in the 10 years that I have been on city council,” Austin said. “I just want to finish what I am doing.”
Mark Stephen Shaw is running against Austin for a city council seat in district one. He is a general manager and said he is over qualified as a candidate for city council because he is a businessman. Businessmen are multifaceted, and as a social volunteer in a non-paying position, there needs to be business leaders, Shaw said.
Shaw said that he feels like Waco needs stronger leadership and someone to bring the communities together for a common good. He said he doesn’t like the stigma of living in east Waco and wants East Waco to be integrated into the community. Shaw said he wants East Waco citizens to feel the pride and ownership of living in Waco. Baylor and Waco have grown, but East Waco has suffered, Shaw said.
“This is 2016 and the most important part is we want to have the most vibrant community where we have educated citizens, safety, security and camaraderie where everyone is working together for common good,” Shaw said.
John Kinnaird is running for Waco city council District 3 seat. This is his third term, and he ran unopposed the first two terms. Kinnaird is a Baylor graduate and has worked in Waco since his graduation.
Kinnaird said he enjoys serving Waco, and there are many projects happening he would like to continue working on. Kinnaird said these projects include “Prosper,” the Waco community-wide initiative to alleviate poverty and a number of large infrastructure projects to help set the city up for its expected growth.
Kinnaird also said he would like to see development along the river and increased funding for the streets, which Kinnaird said may seem boring but are critical for the growth of the city.
“I enjoy the work, and I want to keep doing it and keep serving the citizens of Waco,” Kinnaird said. “Hopefully they think I’m doing a good job and want to keep me around.”
Dustin Weins is running against Kinnaird for the Waco City Council District 3 seat. Weins has been a Waco resident his whole life and said he felt like now would be a good time to give back to the community that has given him so much.
Weins said he wants to change the culture around city council. He said he wants to get more people involved and hear others’ opinions. If elected, Weins wants to hold regular town hall meetings in his district to gauge citizens’ opinions.
Weins said he is qualified to be a city councilman because he is willing to listen to his constituents and put their best interests first.
“I would love to see more opportunities for residents here to have better paying jobs, better access to healthcare and be proactive on water being safe,” Weins said.
Early voting sites are the McLennan County Elections Administration Office Records Building on Fourth Street in Suite 300. Additional early voting sites are the First Assembly of God Church on 6701 Bosque Blvd. and Bellmead City Hall on 3015 Bellmead Drive Sample ballots can be found on the city’s website.