Three Vie For Vacant Tyler City Council Seat
By JACQUE HILBURN-SIMMONS
Three candidates vying for the District 2 seat on the Tyler City Council said they understand the needs of their constituents and plan to roll up their sleeves to address them.
The winner of the race takes over for outgoing Councilman Donald Sanders, who cannot run again due to term limits. District 2 includes the longtime communities of Butler College, White City and St. Louis area as well as newer areas, including The Cascades.
Darryl B. Bowdre, 54, said he appreciates the careful spending practices of the current city leaders and wants to ensure that money is spent wisely and equally.
Bowdre, a minister who leads the SouthCentral Church of Christ, serves on a variety of boards: the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce, Tyler Economic Development Board, Tyler Convention and Visitors Bureau Board, Smith County Tax Abatement Committee and Tyler Civil Service Board.
He sees potential in the new development unfolding in his district and would like to see more affordable home opportunities, especially for the elderly.
"We need development to come over there," he said. "With planned growth, we can keep creating key destination points."
Bowdre says the area would benefit from a community center.
The former newspaper publisher is a former board member of PATH, North Tyler Child Development Center and Tyler Independent School District.
The candidate also helped establish and lead the Tyler Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Bi-Partisan African-American Coalition, a voter rights and education organization.
The candidate previously served as minister for North Tenneha Church.
Bowdre has been married more than 34 years to wife, Lynn. The couple has three children and four grandchildren.
"I've been a resident of Tyler for the past 30 years and the lion's share of that time has been spent being deeply involved," he said. "It's been my pleasure, to a certain degree, to help facilitate change in Tyler, hopefully for the better."
The Rev. Charles Burns, pastor at the New Zion No. 1 Baptist Church in Tyler, said he has never run for public office before, but describes himself a servant.
Burns, 45, volunteers at several community organizations: East Texas Crisis Center, Smith County Court Appointed Special Advocates, the Tyler Police Department and Smith County Sheriff's Office.
Burns said he's happy with development unfolding in his district, but believes more is needed.
"They (constituents) want more business and more money invested in that district," he said. "They want to feel like they are a part of their district ... the street I live on doesn't have curbs."
He feels the city can and should do more to aid the city's homeless population.
Burns said he's been preaching for 21 years, almost 10 at New Zion No. 1. He is recognized as the second vice president of the Congress of Christian Education in the original East Texas Baptist Association.
He founded You are Not Alone, Now Ministry in Tyler, which ministers to sexual abuse victims. He serves as a member and former chaplain for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons and an ambassador for Tyler Junior College.
He moved to Tyler from Arkansas in 1995. He and wife, Rotonger Burns, have two sons in college.
Burns believes strong families are critical for strong communities.
"I'm not a politician," he said. "I'm just a man of God."
Ms. Coats, 59, a retired Tyler computer software developer and longtime Tyler resident, said she's seen positive change in her district in recent years and wants it to continue.
"I don't wait for things to come to me," she said. "I'm a go-getter when it comes to helping people."
Civic involvement includes: Smith County Habitat for Humanity, East Texas Food Bank, Dallas Project United Community Development Corp., Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary, Keep Tyler Beautiful and Butler College Community Service Organization.
Ms. Coats said the community belongs to everyone and people should stay involved.
She established the nonprofit Brighten My Corner ministries to support needy families, and has been recognized also by the Smith County Foster Parents Association, Cub Scouts, Smith County Literacy Council and Tyler Neighborhood Empowerment Works to name a few.
Ms. Coats earned her bachelor of science in computer science from Stephen F. Austin State University at a time when the field was comprised mostly of men.
In her career, she developed computer software systems for The University of Texas at Tyler, Stephen F. Austin State University, University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler and Electronic Data System.
Ms. Coats has one son and serves as the primary caregiver to her brother and great-great niece. She is a licensed Realtor and attends United Ministries Church.
One of 13 children, she credits her parents with instilling her devotion to community.
"They raised me to love and respect one another," she said. "They raised us to work hard and be accountable."