Weatherford candidate forum

Weatherford school board and council candidate hopefuls spoke at a forum held Thursday by the NAACP.

The Weatherford/Parker County NAACP Branch 6321 Thursday night held a candidate forum for Weatherford City Council and Weatherford ISD Board of Trustees candidates, allowing the public to meet and ask questions of the candidates. 

City Council Place 4

“I’ve lived here all my life, never left and always served my community,” Place 4 incumbent Craig Swancy said. 

Swancy, a retired Weatherford firefighter and 37-year owner of Craig’s Music who has served on the city council for eight years, said his platform is simple. 

“I’ve spent a lifetime listening to the people of Weatherford,” Swancy said. “There’s some very intelligent, very smart, very wise people here. When they speak, I listen. I form an opinion and try to vote the way that I feel is the very best from the consensus of what I’ve heard.”

“I’m pleased with where the city has been,” Swancy said. “I’m pleased with where we are going. We have a budget process that, in all respects, takes care of what our city needs, what our city expects, what the taxpayers ask for.”

Place 4 challenger Tom Holman, a native of Colorado, said he moved to Weatherford in 1986, where his wife raised his son.

“My qualifications, I really have none,” Holman said. 

After getting out of the U.S. Marine Corps, he was a truck driver, Holman said. He now volunteers once a week at the VA Clinic. 

He said he wants to be part of the growth of Weatherford. 

City Council Place 3

Dale Fleeger, a native of Pennsylvania who moved to Weatherford 11 years ago and recently retired after 10 years as the director of the Weatherford Public Library, said he has made Weatherford his home. 

“I’ve invested in this community in a variety of ways and I want to continue doing that,” Fleeger said. 

“As a [City of Weatherford] department director, my role was really broader than the normal library issues,” Fleeger said. “I was involved in budgeting. I was involved in staffing, in hiring, involved in the development of policies. So I always tell people I’m not a librarian, I’ve always been a manager. That’s the skill set I bring to the potential job.” 

Reed Wainwright, who said he grew up on a watermelon farm in Alabama and moved to Weatherford in April 2004, introduced his daughter and visiting mother. 

After coaching at Auburn University and TCU, Wainwright said his daughter was born and he began practicing as a criminal defense attorney. 

“I feel like as a small business owner and as a parent, I have the ability to assess the needs for Weatherford for this city because it’s been good to me,” Wainwright said. 

“I believe in a strong fire department, strong police department, animal control, sanitation needs, as well. Of course the parks also,” Wainwright said, adding that he knows the value of a dollar and would make sure tax monies are used appropriately, utilities are affordable and economic development is addressed. 

Jim Merritt, a native of Weatherford, said he is running on what he believes is over-spending by the city council and wants to see a regime change.

“I don’t know where there has to be 20 or more police cars sitting in that parking lot at a time,” Merritt said. “I’m for the police. I like the police and the fire department but I don’t know why there has to be that many police cars out there. If we just took away three of them, we could buy that much asphalt or finish the park at Soldier Springs, the veteran’s memorial.”

Merritt also said he believes businesses should be able to determine whether they allow smoking and that it shouldn’t be city hall’s business. 

“I don’t know why they have to mimic what happens in the Metroplex,” Merritt said. “I’m proud to be from Weatherford.”

“I don’t know what they have against the veterans,” Merritt said. “They all say they don’t have anything against the veterans but the new laws and regulations say otherwise.”

Wade Calhoun, a native of Ohio who moved to Weatherford more than two years ago, said he currently works full time as a financial analyst for Alcon Laboratories and he and his wife opened a business in downtown Weatherford in December. 

Prior to his current job, he worked for the City of Hudson Oaks and the City of Fort Worth, Calhoun said, adding that he has a bachelor’s degree in political science and minor in physics and master’s degree in public administration with a master’s certificate in public budgeting. 

“For these reasons, I believe I can apply my work experience, my education and my vested interest in this community,” Calhoun said, adding that he expects to raise his young daughters in Weatherford schools.

“I think there are major things that probably need to be addressed, as with the schools,” Calhoun said. “The city council has done a good job addressing these issues so I just want to continue that by continuing to invest in infrastructure, public safety, transportation, obviously, and then we just need to continue to grow with tradition.”

WISD Place 2 

Place 2 incumbent Jeff Geyer, who has served on the board of trustees since 2012, said one of his daughters graduated from Weatherford High School and Dallas Baptist University and his two younger daughters currently attend WISD schools.

“Laura and I moved to Weatherford in 2006 for one reason and one reason only,” Geyer said. “We came from Fort Worth to Weatherford for the school district.”

“We’re moving forward as a district and I feel I am qualified to move in that direction,” Geyer said, adding that his bachelor’s of business degree and his past as a licensed financial advisor allows him to make prudent financial decisions on behalf of the school district. 

His ownership of several construction companies in Weatherford that work in the private sector and for the U.S. government also give him expertise as the district undertakes construction projects, Geyer said. 

Geyer also expressed support for the proposed bond. 

Ben Schoonover, who is challenging Geyer for the Place 2 position, said he has lived in Weatherford since 1962 and almost his entire family has attended Weatherford ISD, starting with his grandmother. 

Schoonover said he has a master’s degree taught third through sixth grade, worked as a counselor, ran an intervention program, ran the Bridge Academy (a disciplinary alternative education program) and finished as assistant principal at Seguin Elementary. 

Schoonover’s wife is an administrator at Weatherford High School and his daughter-in-law is a teacher for Weatherford ISD, he said. 

His platform is to keep kids physically safe, emotionally strong and academic excellence, Schoonover said, adding that voters should choose the bond if they have to pick between him or the bond. 

WISD Place 1

Amy Bonnett, who is running for the Place 1 position, said her family moved to Parker County in 2006 but moved their children into Weatherford ISD in 2007 after her husband spoke with and worked with both school boards. 

After serving on the Weatherford ISD Facility Advisory of Citizens, Teachers and Students Committee, she saw firsthand the challenges the district was facing, motivating her to run for office, Bonnett said. 

“As a stay-at-home mom and an active volunteer in Weatherford ISD, I feel I am uniquely qualified to serve on the board of trustees,” Bonnett said. “I’ve had the privilege to work with many wonderful kids on various campuses and I was completely unaware of the challenges that our staff had to overcome due to deterioration of our campuses and the growing student population.”

More than the district’s facilities, Bonnett said she is focused on the teachers and staff and too many surrounding school districts have benefitted from gaining Weatherford ISD educators.

“We have to take of our teachers and our students,” Bonnett said. “We cannot make it just about the numbers.”

Brian Catlin, who was not in attendance due to his father’s recent heart surgery, provided a statement that was read by moderator Jeff Brazzell. 

Catlin, father of two adult children and a teenage son, has been a resident of Weatherford ISD for 15 years, has been a licensed certified public accountant since 1984 and is a managing partner of a CPA firm with offices in Parker and Tarrant counties. 

“I believe I am uniquely qualified to serve as your trustee for Place 1 due to my education, experience, history of service to our schools and community and my 30-plus years of business and financial background,” Catlin wrote, adding that he has volunteered for and supported many youth sports organizations, 4-H and livestock shows, booster clubs and Mary Martin Elementary Watchdogs.  

He has also served on the board of directors for the Parker County Health Foundation, Crossroads Youth Ministries and a local charitable foundation.

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