2 trying for Jacksonville council seat
BY KELLY GOOCH
Two hopefuls are vying for a spot on the Jacksonville City Council.
Phil Huttash is challenging incumbent Billy McDonald for the District 3 position, which entails the eastern part of the city. Huttash, 66, owns Huttash Paint & Body Shop, while McDonald, 56, serves as manager of The Oil Exchange.
Huttash, whose father was a city councilman, said he always wanted to run.
He considered running before, he said, but decided not to after his friend chose to run. Now, he said a lot of friends are telling him he needs to.
"I care about Jacksonville. ... I was running out of time (at) 66 years old and just wanted to do it and help the city," Huttash said.
He added, "The city's in pretty good shape ... (but) communication between government and citizens should be a little better, and I think I can help out with that."
He said he also listens well to people and possesses common sense.
Huttash served as a volunteer firefighter in Jacksonville, and his late wife worked for Jacksonville ISD. He has two daughters as well as grandchildren.
Meanwhile, McDonald said many residents asked him to run again.
He said there's not necessarily one key issue that needs to be addressed, but it is about the city continuing on the same path.
For instance, he said the tax rate hasn't increased in the last couple years, and Jacksonville put a lot of money back into the utility fund, so the city shouldn't have to borrow if a significant utility problem comes up. He also referenced recent renovations to the Jacksonville athletic complex.
And right now, he said a committee is looking toward a proposed civic center project, which he favors.
"I believe it could help the city tremendously as far as bringing people to Jacksonville," he said, adding that hotel owners have asked about getting more people to spend the night in town on a consistent basis.
McDonald also has his own take on how he addresses the city and residents: "Right's right, and wrong's wrong; and if we have a problem, let's correct it."
The father of four has been a member of the Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club. And when he was president of the Jacksonville Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association, he said laptops were put in law enforcement vehicles, among other initiatives.