I am writing in support of Mark Hicks for mayor.
I was employed by the City of Lufkin for 25 years in an administrative role and the last six years as city manager. I have worked with multiple city council members and several mayors. Mark is definitely one of the best.
Mark is a lifetime Lufkinite and a graduate of Lufkin High School. In all my dealings with Mark he has supported the best interest of Lufkin, even in the hard choices. Mark has worked in cooperation with each council member in moving all wards of Lufkin forward.
Over the years, the city council has faced challenges that elicit different opinions reflective of a board representing diverse constituents. Mark has always been willing to work together with all council members in order to achieve the common good of the citizens of Lufkin.
In Mark’s tenure on the city council we have had the most successful economic development program in the history of the Lufkin Economic Development Corporation (LEDC). Lufkin has had the addition and expansion of two international companies. These two international companies chose Lufkin as their sole manufacturing footprint in North America.
In addition, Lufkin and Angelina County, through the work of the LEDC, saw two long-term successful companies expand from Illinois and Wisconsin to East Texas.
The city worked with several companies on business expansion in Lufkin, including more than 125 jobs at Lockheed Martin. The LEDC and city council also worked with local investors in the development of a new sawmill and the repurposing of existing manufacturing facilities in Angelina County. This was all a team effort by staff, the council and the LEDC. Mark was a key player in these decisions due to his extensive business background, and helped lead in developing the best proposals to each of these companies.
From 2018 to 2021 the city has received commitments to add more than 700 jobs and $370 million in capital investment to Lufkin and the surrounding area.
As a property owner I can testify that none of us like property taxes. However, they are a necessary component of the operation of the city. Each year, just as you experience expense increases, the city does as well.
Fuel, chemicals, salaries, maintenance, and numerous other components increase each year. The city has been able to maintain a fairly stable tax rate by obtaining additional funding from increased property values and new construction, which allows it cover those increased expenses.
The city’s budget is lean and contains little that could be cut without cutting personnel. The city has continued to maintain the highest bond rating by Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s that it has ever had due to conservative fiscal policies. Mark apprehends the needs of the city and knows what is required in order to maintain services.
I have spent much of my life serving the city of Lufkin and praying for the prosperity of our community. One or two elections can halt all forward progress and lead to stagnation.
Therefore, I wholeheartedly, support Mark Hicks as the best candidate for mayor to continue to move Lufkin in the right direction. I believe Mark has the vision we need as a community. He has proven it so in his projects downtown, he has proven it so as a city council member, and he will prove it as mayor.
Keith Wright retired as Lufkin’s city manager in July 2020.